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Al - Aqsa Mosque

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The Noble Sanctuary is a significant site with a sacred mosque and a sacred shrine within its walls, held in Jerusalem, for the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions. The Noble Sanctuary, which includes the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, represents the sacrifices and hardships many people have faced throughout the decades that formed our world in to what it is today. The Jews and the Christians have a special place in their heart for The Noble Sanctuary, but the magnitude and relevance of this place is greatest with the Muslims. It relates to their great last prophet Muhammad, who they believe, was sent from God and established Islam. Al-Aqsa Mosque, the sacred mosque within the Noble Sanctuary, accommodates the Dome of the Rock in commemorating Muhammad and Muhammad's Night Journey into Heaven. The shrine itself was not a religious place of worship; the Dome of the Rock was solely a shrine. Al-Aqsa Mosque was built to fulfill the religious needs of Muslims. It was built, spatially, near the sanctuary's closest wall to Mecca, to pay respect to the "holy city", where so Muhammad first started preaching and where so much history occurred, contributing heavily to Islamic religion of today.

Al-Aqsa Mosque would not have been built if it were not for the building of the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock was begun in the heart of Jerusalem around 684 C.E and was finally completed in 691 C.E during the Umayyad Dynasty. The ninth Caliph, Abd al-Malik, a successor of the great prophet Muhammad, built the sanctuary to remember the Prophet, who


established the Islamic religion.# The Dome of the Rock is the focal point of the Noble Sanctuary. It is an octagonal shaped building with a large dome that rests atop the structure. Spatially, it lies in the very center of the Noble Sanctuary. The Dome is decorated with colorful mosaics that depict the events that occurred in the sixth and seventh centuries before the Dome was created. The inside is a sight of beauty; the beauty that some say only God can show Muslims. It has pillars, arches, and columns that go around the outside of the golden dome. The windows are of stained glass that glistens when the sun shines through them and they project exquisiteness on those pillars, arches, and columns. The Dome also contains Arabic calligraphy all around the inside of the Dome, with religious sayings and religious propaganda. For example, there are quotes from the Qur'an written on the walls.#

The Muhammad shrine needed a mosque to go along with it, thus the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is also in the Noble Sanctuary, was built in 715 C.E. by Caliph al-Walid.# It is towards the outer edge of the sanctuary, southwest from the Dome of the Rock. The mosque was created as a central structure for Muslim prayer and Muslim tradition. In the Islamic religion, the "Muslim law lays on the faithful small number of ritual duties which constitute the angels or pillars of faith" that are to be performed in a mosque.# Since the Dome was built to commemorate Muhammad and to make Jerusalem the "holy city" there needed to be a place for the Muslims to worship. The mosque was built for Muslims to try to claim purity before Allah, worship the prophets and Allah, teach the Qur'an and pray for the blessing of Allah to be with him or her.# According to the Five Pillars of Islam, it is mandatory for a Muslim to pray five times a day.# The Noble Sanctuary, as a whole, was seen as the first important sanctuary for


Muslims, giving them a place to show their gratitude for Muhammad and also pray, learn more about the Islamic traditions and cleanse themselves of sin.

Jerusalem was chosen as the home for this sanctuary for many reasons. First, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque were built in Jerusalem because the original Holy Land of the Muslims, Mecca, was being occupied by a rival Caliph of the Caliph who was building the Dome of the Rock, Abd al-Malik.# The holiness could not be built on land that was unhappy and a place where not all Muslims were content with one another at that time. The Noble Sanctuary, Al-Aqsa Mosque included, needed to be in a place of happiness. The Caliph Abd al-Malik decided to discourage people from making the pilgrimage to Mecca, and instead, bring them to Jerusalem. Second and most importantly the mosque was built for Muslims to make Jerusalem their "holy city" was that the Prophet Muhammad had taken his Night Journey and ascended up into heaven from Jerusalem.

In Mecca, Muhammad had started preaching what God had taught him. However, the people of Mecca did not welcome Muhammad as a prophet in their city. The Jews in Mecca thought that he was not a real prophet since some of his revelations contradicted the Bible.# Although he had already converted members in his family, he didn't have enough support in Mecca to go on any longer. Muhammad knew he was a real prophet and he knew that he was sent from God to do what a prophet needed to do. He quickly left Mecca and migrated to Medina in what is called the hijra. Men he had met in a pilgrimage during the summer thought he was a great leader and wanted him to come to Medina. In return for his goodness and intelligence that they thought would benefit the city they would make him the chief judge of the city.# Muhammad


knew this was the opportunity he was waiting for. He had five main points that he was to teach to the people of the city, as described by Arthur Goldschmidt:

(1) God is good and all-powerful; (2) God will call all men and women back to himself on the Last Day and will judge and reward them on the basis of how they acted on earth; (3) people should thank God, through worship, for the blessings he has given the earth; (4) God expects people to share their worldly goods with others needier than themselves; and (5) Muhammad is God's designated messenger to his own people, the Arabs.#

By teaching and preaching these Muhammad had many followers and soon Medina was full of Muslim converts.

Around 632, Muhammad had an unbelievable experience, known as "Muhammad's Night Journey." This journey was the basis for building The Dome of the Rock and the inspiration for building the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Muhammad woke up in the middle of the night to visit a sacred mosque in Medina. After a while, he fell asleep next to the Ka'aba, a building Muslims face when in prayer, only to be awoken by an angel named Gabriel.# The angel Gabriel cut open his chest and purified Muhammad of any sin and transgression. After pulling all of the badness out of Muhammad, he then replaced it with righteousness. Gabriel then



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