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Al-Aqsa: The Blessed Land: Part 1

Aqsa Week 6th – 12th March 2021

Aqsa Week will coincide with al-Isra wal-Miraj to bring the love of Al-Aqsa to the global community under the banner of #LoveAqsa.

Aqsa Week is about creating conversations on why we #LoveAqsa

The aim is to deliver an exciting educational week in order to bring a global focus to Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian people.

Aqsa Week brings to fore the centrality of Al-Aqsa and the plight of the Palestinians. The highlight of the campaign is to teach Muslims and non-Muslims of the great heritage of Masjid Al-Aqsa and how to support the occupied people around the world.

In order to gain a complete understanding of Al Aqsa, the first thing we need to understand is “What is Masjid Al Aqsa?”

A Blessed and Holy Land

THE “BLESSED LAND” under the Islamic ethos means land associated with barakah – the land over which Allah has endowed spiritual and physical blessings from which all of humanity can derive benefit. The barakah also extends to the people who reside within this land, on condition that they conform to the commands of Allah, i.e., practise Islam.

Al-Aqṣā Sanctuary has been honoured and glorified by Allah and showered with His divine blessings for the benefit, enlightenment and guidance of all mankind. The Qur’ān states that the blessings of this land are for “al- ‘Ālamīn” – which means for all the world’s creatures until eternity. It implies that the blessings are not restricted to any specific group of people or species, rather encompassing all living and non-living things.

The boundaries of this “blessed land” are not clear and there are differences of opinion about its exact extent. Some classical Islamic scholars of the Qur’ān and aḥādīth, including Ibn Kathīr, al-Qurṭubī and Ibn al-Jawzī, consider the whole area of al-Shām (modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine) as blessed. Other interpreters believe that the blessed land is contiguous from the Ḥijāz (Saudi Arabia) through al-Shām to Egypt. A further, and maybe a more logical opinion, is that within the area of the modern Middle East, there are pockets of “blessed land” like the compound of al-Aqṣā Sanctuary, the Prophet’s ﷺ Masjid in Madinah and the Holy Masjid in Makkah. However, in all the opinions on the extent of the “blessed land”, al-Aqṣā Sanctuary is included. The blessings of al-Aqṣā Sanctuary in particular and alShām area in general is expounded in the Holy Qur’ān and the traditions of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ:

Al Aqsa in the Holy Quraan

Prophet Ibrāhīm (AS) and his immediate family were deported by his clansmen from the city of his birth, Ur, in a country called Sumer (modern-day Iraq), for preaching the tawḥīdof Allah. The Qur’ān informs us that Ibrāhīm (AS) was delivered by Allah to the land which Allah has “blessed for the nations”. This land, which Allah eloquently refers to as “blessed for the nations”, is the glorious land of Palestine. Prophet Ibrāhīm (AS) is believed to have re-constructed the Masjid alAqṣā in al-Quds (Jerusalem) with his son Isḥāq (AS).

وَنَجَّيْنَٰهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ ٱلَّتِى بَٰرَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَٰلَمِينَ

And We saved him and Lot and brought him to the land upon which We had bestowed Our blessings for all the people of the world. [Sūrah al-Anbiyā’ 21: 71]

The verses of the Holy Qur’ān indicate that unlike any other place on earth, Allah has blessed the land of Palestine. Allah has blessed and honoured this area prior to any event or incident through His Great Mercy and through the subsequent events that took place there are further reasons by which the followers built their love and affection for this area. No doubt the presence of Prophets (AS) and the historical link to them builds a bond, but it is Allah through His Great Mercy and Wisdom, who has chosen the area around al-Aqṣā Sanctuary to be blessed.

Al Aqsa in the Ahadith

The Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ is reported to have said, “Allah has blessed what lies between al-Arish (in Egypt) and the Euphrates and has made Palestine particularly holy”. [Kanz al-‘Ummāl]

Aqsa Week 6th – 12th March 2021

Aqsa Week will coincide with al-Isra wal-Miraj to bring the love of Al-Aqsa to the global community under the banner of #LoveAqsa.

Aqsa Week is about creating conversations on why we #LoveAqsa

The aim is to deliver an exciting educational week in order to bring a global focus to Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian people.

Aqsa Week brings to fore the centrality of Al-Aqsa and the plight of the Palestinians. The highlight of the campaign is to teach Muslims and non-Muslims of the great heritage of Masjid Al-Aqsa and how to support the occupied people around the world.

In order to gain a complete understanding of Al Aqsa, the first thing we need to understand is “What is Masjid Al Aqsa?”

“What is Masjid Al Aqsa?”

Al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) is the holiest site in al-Quds (Jerusalem); a place used for worship, residence and meditation by many Prophets (AS) and pious individuals. It is a site blessed by Allah and selected by Him to be one of the most holy areas on earth, where angels descended with Allah’s message to many of His Prophets (AS). It is also the site of the most fantastic and incredible journey undertaken by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ during the night of al-Isra’ and al-Mi‘raj, when he was taken up to the heavens by the command of Allah. The revered site of al-Aqsa Sanctuary was also the first qiblah in Islam, before Allah inspired the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to change it to the Holy Masjid in Makkah.

Muslims of previous generations have constructed the most fantastic places of worship within al-Aqsa Sanctuary. They have maintained it by investing their wealth, energy and resources, and when it was required, they gave their lives to protect al-Aqsa Sanctuary.

The city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) now extends over an area of 45 km square. Within al-Quds is the ‘old city’ where major historical events took place and within the old city on the southeast corner is the area referred to as al-Haram al-Sharif or al-Aqsa Sanctuary. Al-Aqsa Sanctuary covers an area of approximately 35 acres and within this area, at the southern end, is the black domed Masjid called Masjid al-Aqsa; in the centre lies the golden domed Masjid, Qubbat al-Sakhrah (Dome of the Rock) and there are within al-Aqsa Sanctuary 42 other monuments and buildings. It has become common practice to refer to the whole area simply as al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) and the black domed Masjid as Masjid al-Aqsa. However it is important to be aware of the distinction between the al-Aqsa Sanctuary and Masjid al-Aqsa. As it is extremely important to appreciate that it is the land of al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) that is the most precious and blessed. When the Holy Qur’an (in Surah al-Isra’) refers to Masjid al-Aqsa (meaning a place of prostration) it is this land of al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) that is implied and not any of the buildings. Although the buildings within the Noble Sanctuary like the black domed Masjid al-Aqsa and gold domed Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah) are of great historical significance, however, one must understand it is the land that is holy and blessed and not the bricks and mortar.

The love and sacrifice of the pious predecessors indicates the importance and centrality of al-Aqsa Sanctuary. Al-Aqsa Sanctuary has been carved within the psyche of the Muslim Ummah and formed the nucleus of one of the most Holy sites on earth. Above and beyond these great events and personalities associated with al-Aqsa Sanctuary which brings to the fore glorious memories of Prophets (AS) and miraculous events, one can never forget that Majid al-Aqsa is mentioned by name in the Holy Qur’an. Further, Almighty Allah refers to the region of al-Aqsa Sanctuary as blessed and holy. The Noble Sanctuary of al-Aqsa and al-Quds are referred to directly or indirectly many times in the Holy Qur’an. The Prophet ﷺ has repeatedly mentioned the importance of Al-Aqsa.

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