Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“Set out deliberately on a journey only to three mosques: this mosque of mine [in Madinah], the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah], and Al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem].” (Al-Bukhari)
It is no doubt that Al-Aqsa or Baitul Maqdis has a significant importance in Islam. Being the third holiest site in Islam, it is where Prophet Muhammad SAW was transported from the Masjidil Haram in Mecca to al-Aqsa and then to an ascension to the heavens during the night of Isra’ and Mikraj. Al-Aqsa is also the first qibla (direction) that Muslims faced for prayers.
And these are just some of the reasons why visiting Al-Aqsa is a special kind of journey that any Muslims can experience, besides the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah and Madinah.
More can be read here
Over our stay in Jerusalem, Alhamdulillah we did get the chance to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque for a few days. My personal favourite – the early morning Fajr or Subuh prayers.
The beauty of waking up very early in the morning and walking through the small confusing lanes of Old Jerusalem for a good 4 KMs before reaching the Al-Aqsa mosque compound is an amazing feeling. Security was tight. Highly equipped Israeli security officers were always presence at the Herod’s Gate and the entrance to the mosque’s compound but it was never a problem. A courteous smile goes a long way.
Imagine walking on these lanes and the prayer call from the mosque started to sound. Magical. We were told that it was “low season” hence there were not many tourists let alone Malaysians so it gave a bit more “like a local” kind of feel.
It is a common misconception to think that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is this iconic golden dome known as the Dome of Rock.
In reality the mosque is actually located in the south area of the Haram Al-Sharif complex area which includes a few other mosques and the Dome of Rock.
Inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, it was amazing seeing the beautiful old architecture and designs from all different empires.
The ceiling wood, glass works and craftsmanship is unique.
But the part that I love the most, the people and ambience. The moment I stepped into the mosque, I immediately felt the peaceful and calm feeling often associated with this mosque. Locals are more than happy to welcome tourist-looking visitors like myself and often greet us with a friendly smile and salam.
Just before prayers , the front row will be occupied with people reciting the Holy Quran.
In my opinion, the azan or prayer call felt a bit more special than those I’ve heard in any other mosque. Here in Al-Aqsa, it’s a symbol of presence, a symbol of existence and to some extend a reminder of the struggles that have been going for many years.
Alhamdulillah, I even had the opportunity to take photos with a couple of Imams. For those who love taking photos, good news is that Al-Aqsa mosque is camera-friendly. Of course the basic common sense applies on what and when to photograph.
Located at one part within the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the Mehrab of Prohet Zakariyya (upon him be peace) who was once a custodian of the mosque.
What caught my attention were the beautiful beginning verses of the Surah Maryam written above it. These few verses that are very familiar for me and my wife and I’m sure for many others. May Allah S.W.T bless all of us with pious beautiful children who will the coolness of our eyes. Ameen.
Outside the Al-Aqsa mosque and still within the same compound, there are various other historical sites.
A common scene is kids playing football. Feel free to join them. Some would ask for “sedekah” while some will just make fun of Malaysia’s football ranking.
In the next part I will be sharing about the iconic Dome of Rock and other mosques within the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.