Aqṣā Mosque

Muzaffar Iqbal and Naseer Ahmad

This article comprises the following sections: i. Definition and Usage; ii. Early History; iii. Geography; iv. Qurʾānic verses about al-Aqsa Mosque and its Environs; v. Hadiths on the Merits and Rulings related to al-Aqsa Mosque; vi. Bibliography.

Definition and Usage

Al-Masjid al-Aqṣā (lit. “the Farthest Mosque”), the first qibla (direction of prayer), the second masjid (lit. place of prostration (see Mosque)) ever built and the third holiest site in Islam, is in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is directly mentioned twice in the Qurʾān: by name in the opening verse of Sūrat al-Isrāʾ (Q 17): Glory be to Him who carried His slave by night from the Inviolable Mosque (al-Masjid al-Ḥarām) to the Farthest Mosque (al-Masjid al-Aqṣā), whose precincts We have blessed, to show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing; and as a direct referent in Q 17:7 regarding the Children of Isrāʾīl : and when the promise of your next transgression comes to be fulfilled, they will disgrace you utterly and enter the Temple (al-masjid) as they entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever they come upon. In addition, exegetical sources enumerate certain other verses said to refer to al-Aqsa Mosque or its environs (see below).

The many appellations of al-Aqsa Mosque in early sources include Masjid Īliyāʾ, al-Bayt al-maqdis, al-Bayt al-Muqaddas, Bayt al-Quds, and others, “the abundance of names testifying to the nobility of the named” (al-Zarkashī, Iʿlām p. 277-278) (see The Name, The Naming, The Named). Various explanations are offered for the name “al-Masjid al-Aqṣā”. These include: (i) “because of its distance from Makka, as it was the farthest mosque on earth from al-Masjid al-Ḥarām (see Kaʿba), and was venerated through pilgrimage” (Zamakhsharī, Kashshāf and Qurṭubī, Tafsīr, sub Q 17:1); (ii) “because of its remoteness from impurities” (Ibn Ḥajar, Fatḥ al-bārī, qawluh bāb faḍl al-ṣalāt fī masjid Makka wal-Madīna); or (iii) according to al-ʿIrāqī (725-806/1325-1404), “because it was in the foreknowledge of Allah Most High that soon the mosque in Madina would be built, which would be a shorter distance from the mosque at Makka, and the Masjid al-Bayt al-Muqaddas would then become the farthest (al-aqṣā) [of the three]” (Ṭarḥ al-tathrīb, wa ṣalāt fī-l-masjid al-Ḥarām afḍal min miʾat alf ṣalāt fī-mā siwāh). Ibn ʿĀshūr (1296-1393/1879-1972) notes that “al-Masjid al-Aqṣā” is a specifically Qurʾānic name, for before Islam the Arabs did not use it as a proper name (ʿalam) for the site (Tafsīr, sub Q 17:1).

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after al-Masjid al-Ḥarām in Makka and al-Masjid al-Nabawī (“the Prophet’s Mosque”) in Madina, both of which enjoy the legal status of being ḥaram (“Sacred,” “Inviolable”) (see Sacred Precincts). That term is not, strictly speaking, applicable to al-Aqsa Mosque, even though in popular usage it is called al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf, or “the Noble Sanctuary” (for Makka being a ḥaram, see Bukhārī, Jazāʾ al-ṣayd, lā yuʿḍad shajar al-ḥaram; Muslim, Ḥajj, taḥrīm Makka wa ṣaydihā wa khalāhā wa shajarihā wa luqaṭatihā […]; for the status of Madina as ḥaram, see Bukhārī, Faḍāʾil al-Madīna, ḥaram al-Madīna; Muslim, Ḥajj, faḍl al-Madīna).

Early History

                   The initial foundation of al-Aqsa Mosque is attributed to Prophet Ādam, upon him peace, and subsequent reconstructions to other Prophets. The most authentic report on the matter is a hadith of Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī (d. 32/652): “I asked the Messenger of Allah which masjid was first established on earth. He said, ‘al-Masjid al-Ḥarām [at Makka].’ ‘Then which?’ I asked. He said, ‘al-Masjid al-Aqṣā [at Jerusalem].’ ‘How long was there between them?’ I asked. ‘Forty years,’ he replied. Then he said, ‘Wherever you find [yourself at the time of] prayer, pray; for that [place] is a masjid for you’” (Muslim, Masājid wa mawāḍiʿ al-ṣalāt; Bukhārī, Aḥādīth al-anbiyāʾ).

Commentaries on this hadith discuss this interval of forty years in relation to the Prophets associated with each of the two mosques. Prophet Ibrāhīm and his son Ismāʿīl constructed Masjid al-Ḥarām (see Q 2:127), while the Prophets Dāwūd and his son Sulaymān, upon them all peace, constructed the Aqsa Mosque, according to the hadith reports cited above. Abū Jaʿfar al-Ṭaḥāwī (238-321/852-933) explains: “There are as many generations between them as Allah willed (meaning that He alone knows the exact number); for after Ibrāhīm came his son Isḥāq; after [him], Isḥāq’s son Yaʿqūb; after Yaʿqūb, his son Yūsuf; after Yūsuf, Mūsā; after Mūsā, Dāwūd; and other Prophets of Allah from their progeny as well as from outside their lineage, and thus the interval between [the construction of al-Masjid al-Ḥarām and that of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā] is obviously far greater than forty years.” The query of Abū Dharr, Allah be well-pleased with him, is thus understood to concern not the interval between the construction of the two mosques but the interval between their founding—“since Ibrāhim was not the founder of the Kaʿba, nor was Sulaymān that of al-Bayt al-Muqaddas; they rebuilt these mosques, the founders of which were others who lived long before them” (Sharḥ mushkil al-āthār 1:109). Al-Qurṭubī (d. 671/1273) and Ibn Ḥajar (773-852/1371-1449) likewise explain the hadith of Abū Dharr as indicating that Ibrāhīm and Sulaymān, upon them peace, reconstructed these mosques on older foundations. Ibn Ḥajar cites a narration claiming that the Kaʿba and al-Aqsa Mosque were both founded by Ādam, upon him peace: “When Ādam, upon him peace, completed the foundation of the Kaʿba, Allah Most High commanded him to travel to Bayt al-maqdis (i.e., Jerusalem) where he laid the foundation [of al-Masjid al-Aqṣā] and worshipped in it” (Tafsīr, sub Q 3:96; Fatḥ al-bārī, qawluh bāb qawl Allāh taʿāla wa-ttakhadha Llāhu Ibrāhīma Khalīla).

Ibn Khaldūn (732-808/1332-1406) comments that wuḍiʿa in this hadith does not mean “building” (bināʾ); rather, it means consecration for worship (ʿuyyina lil-ʿibāda), and it is quite possible that the two mosques (he refers metonymically to “Bayt al-Muqaddas and Makka”) were consecrated within forty years of each other (Tārīkh 1:444). Mujīr al-Dīn al-ʿUlaymī al-Ḥanbalī (860-928/1456-1522), the Chief Qāḍī of Jerusalem and celebrated chronicler of Jerusalem and Hebron, writes that there is not necessarily any inconsistency between the narrations about the construction of al-Aqsa Mosque, since it is possible that it was first founded by the angels, then built by Ādam, upon him peace, then by Sām (Shem) son of Nūḥ, then by Yaʿqūb son of Isḥāq, then by Dāwūd and Sulaymān, upon them all peace; for these persons are separated by intervals of time lengthy enough to have potentially necessitated the building’s reconstruction (Uns al-jalīl 1:30).

In Rabīʿ I, 16/April 637, ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb, the second Caliph, may Allah be well-pleased with him, arrived in Jerusalem—called Īliyāʾ madīnat bayt al-maqdis in Islamic sources (Ṭabarī, Tārīkh 1:603), reflecting the old Roman and Israelite names for the city—to accept its surrender from the people of Jerusalem, who had agreed to submit after six months of siege by the Muslim army commanded by Abū ʿUbayda b. al-Jarrāḥ (42 bh-18/582-639) (Ṭabarī, Tārīkh 3:608-610; al-Maqdisī, Muthīr al-gharām p. 168). He found the site of al-Aqsa full of rubble and refuse, but recognized it as the Masjid of Dāwūd, upon him peace, as it had been described by the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. ʿUmar, Allah be pleased with him, personally participated in clearing the site. He then asked the Tābiʿī (Successor) and former rabbi Kaʿb al-Aḥbār (d. ca.32/653, “Which place shall we make our qibla?” Kaʿb said, “Behind the Rock (ṣakhra). That way, you will face both qiblas—the qibla of Mūsā and the qibla of Muḥammad, upon him blessings and peace.” ʿUmar said, “O Abū Isḥāq, you resemble the Jews [in saying so]; rather, I will pray where the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, prayed.” He then went toward the foremost part of the site and prayed there, with the Rock behind him, saying, “the best part of a masjid is its front portion” (Aḥmad, Musnad ʿUmar raḍiya Llāh ʿanh; Ibn Zanjawayh, Amwāl p. 389). Then he recited Sūra Ṣād, which mentions the Prophets Dāwūd and Sulaymān(Q 38:17-40), upon them peace, who according to hadith reports constructed the Temple (Nasāʾī, Masājid, faḍl al-masjid al-Aqṣā wa ṣalāt fīh; Ṭabarānī, Muʿjam al-awsaṭ, bāb al-Rāʾ, Rāfiʿ b. ʿUmayr).


The name al-Masjid al-Aqṣā is used in Islamic sources to denote the entire site enclosed by the “Walls of Sulaymān”: that is, the ruined Temple (masjid) walls. Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī (700-749/1301-1349) writes: “The city of al-Quds is located on a hill. In the middle of the city are walls surrounding the Rock and the Mosque which is now called al-Aqṣā; but in reality the entire area surrounded by these walls is al-Masjid al-Aqṣā” (Masālik al-abṣār 3:543). Likewise, Mujīr al-Dīn, who supervised two surveys of the area, wrote in 900/1495: “Indeed, al-Aqṣā is a name for the whole place of worship (li-jamīʿ al-masjid) enclosed by the walls (mimmā dār ʿalayh al-suwar), the length and breadth of which are given here” (Uns al-jalīl 2:24). The name “al-Masjid al-Aqṣā” thus properly refers not to a specific building, such as the prayer hall, but to the entire area between the walls—which today includes, among other buildings, the Dome of the Rock, a museum, subterranean halls including al-Muṣallā al-Marwānī (the vaulted reservoir converted into a prayer hall by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Mālik b. Marwān (25-86/646-705; r. 65-86/685-705), who also built the Dome of the Rock), minarets, clearings lined with pine and olive trees, fountains, schools, and colonnades. The entire area is a public endowment (waqf) and the spiritual merits associated with al-Aqsa (see below) apply equally throughout the entire site.

Of the numerous recorded descriptions of al-Aqsa Mosque, the one by the Jerusalem native Shams al-Dīn al-Muqaddasī (336-380/947-990), is among the earliest: “It was built by [the Caliph] ʿAbd al-Mālik. Its mosaics were even more beautiful than those of the Mosque at Damascus; but it was destroyed by the earthquake in the ʿAbbasid era, except for the area surrounded by the [prayer] niche” (al-Muqaddasī, Aḥsan al-taqāsīm p. 170). Its length was 1000 yards and its width 700, according to the yardstick of Malik al-Ashbānī (see Weights and Measures) (al-Bakrī, al-Masālik 1:469; Yāqūt, Buldān 5:170). Other Muslim geographers describe features of the site: “One can enter the Mosque at thirteen different points, through twenty gates. The site also has other buildings, including qubbat al-ṣakhra over which stand the famed Dome of the Rock; Qubbat al-Silsila, Qubbat al-Miʿrāj, and qubbat al-Nabī ṣallā Allāh ʿalayh wa-sallam” (Yāqūt, Buldān 5:170; Aḥsan al-taqāsīm p. 168). After a trip there, the encyclopedic biographer and geographer, Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī (574-626/1178-1229) declared its marvels and beauty impossible to describe: “One has to see it. Its greatest merit is that wherever one sits, one feels that this is the most beautiful and spacious place… It is said that Allah has glanced at it with the ‘Eye of Beauty’ (bi-ʿayn al-jamāl), whereas He beheld al-Masjid al-Ḥarām [in Makka] with the ‘Eye of Majesty’ (bi-ʿayn al-jalāl). Praise be to Allah, Who allowed me to visit it” (Buldān 5:171).


Qurʾānic Verses about al-Aqsa Mosque and its Environs

The Qurʾān describes Palestine as the refuge and abode of Prophets, in the following verses: And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern and western regions of the land which We had blessed. And [thus] the good word of your Sustainer was fulfilled for the Children of Isrāʾīl because of what they had patiently endured. And We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had wrought and what they had built (Q 7:137; for the Divine promise in question, see Q 7:128-129); And We delivered him (Ibrāhīm) and Lūṭ to the land which We have blessed for all (lil-ʿālamīn) (Q 21:71); And to Sulaymān [We subjected] the racing wind, speeding by his command toward the land which We have blessed. And We are ever Aware of all things (Q 21:81); and And We made the son of Maryam and his mother a sign, and provided for both an abode in a lofty place of lasting restfulness and unsullied springs (Q 23:50), this last verse according to some exegetes referring to Jerusalem (al-Suyūṭī, Itḥāf 1:96).

Shams al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (813-880/1410-1475) provides a summary of earlier exegetical reflections on ten verses related to the Holy Land and its environs in a treatise expounding the merits of al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jerusalem (Bayt al-maqdis) has innumerable merits (faḍāʾil). The verses of the Book of Allah which indicate its merits include:

Q 17:1: Had there been no other verse mentioning its merit (faḍīla), this verse alone would have sufficed to encompass its blessings—for [as it mentions] blessings around it (in the phrase whose precincts We have blessed (alladhī bāraknā ḥawlahu)), the blessings in it would be manifold. Furthermore, when Allah Most High decided to grant His Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, the blessings of Ascension (Miʿrāj; see Night Journey and Ascension), He made its path lead through Jerusalem to indicate its merits and to grant the Prophet the blessings and bounties of both the Houses [consecrated to Allah]; for otherwise, the path to the heavens from Masjid al-Ḥarām [at Makka] is just as it is from Jerusalem (i.e., the heavenward journey was no shorter or longer for its route through Palestine);

Q 2:58, addressed to Banī Isrāʾīl: And when We said, “Enter this township (qarya), and eat thereof as you desire, and enter prostrating at the gate, and say, ‘Relieve [us of the burden of our sins]!’” We shall forgive for you your sins; and soon shall We increase [reward for] the virtuous. Allah has not ascribed such merit to any other place as He has [for this], promising forgiveness for all sins through a single prostration;

Q 21:71: We delivered him (Ibrāhīm) and Lūṭ to the land which We have blessed for all, which alludes to Jerusalem;

Q 23:50: And We made the son of Maryam and his mother a sign, and provided for both an abode in a lofty place of lasting restfulness and unsullied springs, which according to some exegetes refers to Jerusalem;

Q 5:21: [Mūsā’s words] “O my people, enter the holy land (al-arḍ al-muqaddasa) which Allah has promised you; but do not turn back, for then you will be lost”—Allah has called [the land] holy after having called it blessed [in Q 17:1 and 21:71];

Q 70:43: The Day when they shall come forth in haste from their graves, as if racing toward a goal-post, which is said to refer to the Rock (ṣakhra) in Jerusalem;

Q 10:93: And, indeed, We assigned unto the Children of Isrāʾīl a most goodly abode…; it is said that Allah Most High granted them an abode in al-Shām and Jerusalem (see Syro-Palestine);

Q 50:41: And be on the alert for a day when the caller shall call from a close quarter…; it has been said that [the angel] shall call from the Rock (ṣakhra) of Jerusalem;

Q 95:1: By the fig (tīn) and by the olive (zayṭūn): the fig, according to [the Companion] ʿUqbā b. ʿĀmir, refers to Damascus and the olive to Jerusalem;

Q 57:13: …and thereupon a wall with a gate will be set up between them [and the believers]: within it will be mercy and against its outside, doom; these are the walls of Jerusalem: within the walls are the gates of mercy, and outside, the valley of Hell.

Itḥāf 1:96-97

Ibn ʿĀshūr (d. 1339/1973) writes that the building of Jerusalem by Sulaymān, peace upon him, is alluded to in Q 34:13: and they built for him what he wished of sanctuaries, and statues, and basins as [large as] reservoirs, and cauldrons firmly anchored (Tafsīr).

The other direct reference to the al-Aqsa Mosque, aside from its mention by name in Q 17:1, occurs in a passage relating a prophecy about the Children of Isrāʾīl: We decreed for the Children of Isrāʾīl in the Book: “Twice will you cause corruption on the earth, and you will perpetrate great tyranny.” So, when the first of the two occasions came, We sent against you some of Our servants possessing great might, and they ransacked [your] habitations, and the promise was fulfilled. Then We allowed you to prevail against them once again, and aided you with wealth and offspring, and made you numerous in numbers. [And We said:] “If you persevere in doing good, you will but be doing good to yourselves; and if you do evil, it will be [done] to yourselves.” And so, when the occasion for the second prophecy comes, they will disgrace you utterly and enter the Temple (masjid) just as they entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever they come upon. Your Sustainer may well show mercy unto you; but if you revert [to sinning], We shall revert [to chastising you] (Q 17:4-8).

The historical context of these verses has been the subject of voluminous debates among exegetes, since neither the Qurʾān nor Prophetic traditions provide specific details. Certain exegetes used Judaic accounts to fill out the narrative, but others discounted such explanations (e.g., Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr). According to principles of scriptural interpretation, such “anonymous mentions” (mubhamāt)  of the Qurʾān can only be definitively linked to specific historical events and persons through a sound proof text going back to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, or his Companions reporting from him, or to Successors who narrate from the Companions (al-Suyūṭī, Mufḥimāt al-Qurʾān p. 8, 65); but no such proof text is available for these verses. All exegetes concur that the word masjid in Q 17:7 refers to the Temple in Jerusalem, even as they differ about the identity of those sent against the Children of Isrāʾīl (Ibn ʿAṭiyya, Muḥarrar) as well as the occasion of the two events (cf. Samarqandī, Baḥr; Tafsīrs of Ṭabarī, Samʿānī, Rāzī, and Ibn Kathīr).

Hadiths on the Merits and Rulings related to al-Aqsa Mosque

It was the destination of the Prophet’s Night Journey (isrāʾ) and the starting point of his Ascension (miʿrāj). According to the hadith of Anas, Allah be well-pleased with him: “The Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, said, ‘I was brought [the mount] al-Burāq. I took it up to Jerusalem (Bayt al-maqdis). There, I fastened it to the ring to which Prophets fasten animals. Later, I entered the Masjid and performed prayers…. Then I was taken to the heavens” (Muslim, Īmān, al-isrāʾ bi-Rasūl Allāh ṣallā Allāh ʿalayh wa-sallam ilā al-samawāt wa farḍ al-ṣalawāt).

It was the first qibla according to various hadiths, including one reported by al-Barāʾ b. ʿĀzib, Allah be well-pleased with him: “I prayed with the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, in the direction of Jerusalem (Bayt al-maqdis) for sixteen or seventeen months” (Sufyān, one narrator in the chain of the hadith, is unsure which number was mentioned); “then Allah turned us toward the [new] qibla (i.e., the Kaʿba)” (Bukhārī, Ṣalāṭ, tawajjuh naḥw al-qibla ḥayth kān; Muslim, Masājid wa mawāḍiʿ al-ṣalāt, taḥwīl al-qibla min al-Quds ilā al-Kaʿba).

It was the second building consecrated to worship ever to be built on earth, as per the hadith narrated by Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī cited above.

It is the third holiest Mosque to which journeys for the purpose of worship may be undertaken, as per the hadith narrated by Abū Hurayra, Allah be well-pleased with him: “The Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, said: ‘Do not deliberately set out on a journey [for the purpose of worship] but to three mosques: the al-Masjid al-Ḥarām [in Makka], al-Masjid al-Aqṣā [in Jerusalem], and my Masjid [in Madina]’” (Bukhārī, Faḍl al-ṣalāt fī masjid Makka wal-Madīna, masjid Bayt al-maqdis).

A visit to al-Aqsa Mosque with the intention of praying there is rewarded with forgiveness of sins: ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAmr narrates that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said: “Sulaymān son of Dāwūd prayed for three things from Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, when constructing al-Masjid al-Aqṣā: (i) the ability to decide cases in accordance with the will of Allah, which was granted him; (ii) a kingdom the like of which would be given no one after him, which was also granted; and (iii), after finishing the construction of the Temple (masjid), he prayed, ‘May anyone who comes to this Mosque solely for the purpose of praying in it be delivered from all his sins (yukhrijah min khaṭīʾatih) as on the day his mother gave birth to him’” (Nasāʾī, Masājid, faḍl al-Masjid al-Aqṣā wal-ṣalāt fīh). Another version of this hadith adds: “The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said, ‘The [first] two prayers were granted, and I hope the third was granted as well’” (Ibn Mājah, Iqāmat al-ṣalāt wal-sunna fīhā, mā jāʾ fī-l-ṣalāṭ fī Masjid Bayt al-maqdis). Al-Maqdisī adds: “God willing, the hadith applies to anyone who travels to Jerusalem [from another city] with the intention of praying there” (Muthīr al-gharām p. 191).

Several hadiths mention the manifold reward of praying in al-Aqsa Mosque. Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī narrates that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said: “[The reward of] a prayer offered in my Mosque is four times that of a prayer in Jerusalem; and Jerusalem is an excellent place to pray” (Ḥākim, Mustadrak 4:554). Other hadiths mention the reward of a prayer in al-Aqsa Mosque as being five hundred, or even one thousand, times that of a prayer offered elsewhere (al-Maqdisī, Muthīr al-gharām p. 201-202). Specialized works such as al-ʿIrāqī’s Ṭarḥ al-tathrīb (6:52) and al-Ṭaḥāwī’s Sharḥ mushkil al-athār (2:69)resolve the discrepancy either by grading the relative soundness of the narrations or by holding that one of them abrogates the others (see Abrogation).

Setting out for pilgrimage from al-Aqsa Mosque is meritorious. Umm Salama, Allah be well-pleased with her, relates that she heard the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, say: “If anyone dons iḥrām for Hajj or ʿUmra from Masjid al-Aqsa [at Jerusalem] and then proceeds to al-Masjid al-Ḥarām [at Makka], his previous sins will be forgiven” (Aḥmad, Musnad al-Nisāʾ, ḥadīth Umm Salama, zawj al-Nabī ṣallā Allāh ʿalayh wa-sallam; Abū Dāwūd, Manāsik, fī-l-mawāqīt).

It is the land of perpetual striving for the cause of Allah. Abū Umāma, Allah be well-pleased with him, narrates that “The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said: ‘A group from my Umma will continue to help each other in [matters] of religion; they will prevail over all their enemies except for hunger and [other such] difficulties, until the Day of Resurrection.’ The Companions asked: ‘Where will they be, O Messenger of Allah?’ The Prophet said: ‘In Jerusalem (Bayt al-maqdis) and around it’” (Aḥmad, Tatma Musnad al-Anṣār, ḥadīth Abī Umāma al-Bāhilī). In another narration, the Prophet said: “A group from my Umma will continue to wage jihad from the gates of Damascus and its environs, and from the gates of Jerusalem and its environs. No deserters will harm them; they will continue to aid one another in the way of truth until the Day of Resurrection” (Ṭabarānī, Muʿjam al-awsaṭ 1:19 §47; Haythamī, Majmaʿ, Manāqib, fī faḍl al-Shām wa ahlih).

Maymūna, the wife of the Prophet, Allah be well-pleased with her, reported: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, tell us about Jerusalem (aftinā fī bayt al-maqdis).’ He said: ‘It is the place of Judgment Day where everyone will be called. Come and pray in it, for one prayer in it is like one thousand prayers elsewhere.’ ‘What if one cannot go there?’ I asked. He replied, ‘Send oil for its lamps; for whoever does so, it is as if they went there’” (Ibn Mājah, Iqāmat al-ṣalāt wal-sunna fīhā, mā jāʾ fī-l-ṣalāṭ fī Masjid Bayt al-maqdis; Aḥmad, Musnad Maymūna bint Saʿd).

Two Companions are buried in the graveyard by the eastern wall of the al-Aqsa compound: ʿUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit al-Badrī (d. 34/654), one of the twelve men who participated in the first Pledge of ʿAqaba (see Alliance and Treaty), and who was a jurist, expert in Qurʾān recitation (he supervised a school of recitation), and the narrator of about 181 hadiths (al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb 14:183-189); and Shaddād b. Aws b. Thābit (d. 58/678), who spread the knowledge of Hadith in greater Syria and combined “knowledge and forbearance” (ʿilm wa ḥilm), as per the description of ʿUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit (Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 2:613 §2393). 


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