Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Salahuddin Ayyubi
By: Khursheed Alam Dawood Qasmi*
Palestine is blessed to be the birthplace of numerous prophets of Allah. It is only because of Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and al-Masjid al-Aqsa, Muslims living all over the world love Palestine. Due to the hypocrisy of some anti-Islamic elements, the establishment of a free Zionist and extorter country namely Israel was announced in the heart of the Arab land, Palestine, on 14th May 1948. No sooner had Israel’s establishment was announced than some powerful countries recognized it and provided it political strength. Not to speak of other countries, even some Muslim countries have recognized it. It is very surprising that the UNO had recommended for 54% land of Palestine then for supposed Israel in 1947, the present Jew community in Palestine then had the ownership of only 6.59% of the land. Now the condition is so worst that almost 87% of Palestinian land including Bayt al-Maqdis, where al-Masjid al-Aqsa is situated, is occupied by the illegitimate Israeli state. Now, it is trying to stomach al-Masjid al-Aqsa and even the original Palestinian Muslims are facing ban to enter freely al-Aqsa Mosque for worship.
Al-Quds: the Blessed City
Jerusalem, which is actually Al-Quds or Bayt Al-Maqdis as it is called in Arabic language, is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is an important and integral part of Palestine. It was called “Ilia” before the arrival of Islam. The Jebusites are the first to establish this city 3000 BC, and that is why its first name was Jebus, pronounced as Yebus, after their name. It is nearly 1,300 kms away from Makkah city of Saudi Arabia to North side. It was divided into two parts following the 1948 war. One part was named West Bayt Al-Maqdis (New City) and was controlled by Israel. Another part was named East Bayt Al-Maqdis (Old City) and it was controlled by Jordan government. In 1967 Arab-Israel war, Israel occupied the whole city including East Bayt Al-Maqdis. The Old City is fenced from all four sides by high wall. The sacred and holy places are found in it. It is considered a Holy place by Jews as it is equally regarded by Muslims. Currently this city is occupied by the extorter Israel. The Israeli government claims it as its undivided capital city and even its some government departments are found there in the city as well. International communities have rejected Israel’s claim. They recognized it as a part of Palestine. Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is situated in the same city.
Allah has blessed Bayt al-Maqdis with many peculiar and antic things. This is third holy city for Muslims following Makkah and Madinah. It is the first Qiblah of Muslims as the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and the companions directed their faces towards it in their prayers for approximately sixteen months in Madinah. Al-Masjid al-Aqsa, which is situated in the same city, is such a sacred mosque if a person visits it is rewarded. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) travelled by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to the same al-Masjid al-Aqsa in the night of Miraj (Ascension to Heaven). He (SAWS) led Salah for all the prophets there. Then he (SAWS) started his journey of Miraj with Jibril (AS). The Holy Qura’an stated this place as the blessed one. The Qura’an describes that event in the following words: Glorious is He Who made his servant travel by night from Al-Masjid-ul-Haram to Al-Masjid-ul-Aqsa whose environs We have blessed, so that We let him see some of Our signs. Surely, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Bani Israil: 01) (Al-Fath Al-Umari Lil Qudus Namudhaj Lil-Dawah Bi Al-Amal Wa Al-Qudwah, P.: 186)
Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Mosque):
Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is called also Al-Haram Al-Qudusi Al-Sharif by the Palestinian people. It should be made clear that when Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is said, it means the whole Haram Qudusi which is surrounded by establishing the wall. There are different buildings inside. The first Qiblah is the rock present there, upon which there is a beautiful yellow dome. (Aqsa Ke Aansu, P.: 25)
There are different opinions and views regarding the foundation and the construction of al-Masjid al-Aqsa. But the view which matches the prophetic narration is that Adam (Aleihis Salam), the first man, founded it after 40 years he had founded al-Masjid al-Haram. As the renewal of the construction of the holy Kaabah was done by Ibrahim (AS), in the same way the construction of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa was renewed by Yaqub (AS) or Dawood (AS) and Suleiman (AS) completed the construction. Abu Dharr (RA) narrates: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (SAWS)! Which Masjid on the earth was built first?’ He said: ‘Al-Masjid Al-Harâm (in Makkah).’ I said: ‘Then which?’ He said: ‘Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Bayt al-Maqdis).’ I said: ‘How long was there between the two?’ He said: ‘Forty years.” (Sahih Muslim: 520)
Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani (1372-1448) says: The person who founded Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is Adam (AS); while some people are of the opinion that it was the angels, some people say it was Sam bin Nooh (AS) and some people are of the view that it was Yaqub (AS). Following the discussion on the topic, Ibn Hajar prefers the stand of those who are of the opinion that Holy Kabah and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa both were founded by Adam (AS). (Fath Al-Bari: 6/409)
Anyway, before the arrival of Islam, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon (Iraq) attacked the Bayt Al-Maqdis and demolished its buildings. When Roman general, Tights attacked it, he also destroyed it. The Roman King, Hedren after attacking it, sent its citizens in exile. Due to these attacks, this city continued being constructed and destroyed with the passage of times. After these destructions and demolition, it was conquered making peace with the citizens during the caliphate of the second Caliph Umar bin Khattab (RA) in 16 AH (637AC), under the leadership of Amr bin Al-Aas (RA) and Abu Obaidah (RA).
According to the condition of the citizens, Ameer Al-Mumineen Umar (RA) arrived at the time of conquering Bayt Al-Maqdis. Due to the negligence and disrespect of the rulers and the clergymen, the whole places were deserted and the dirt was thrown at the holy rock. Umar (RA) commanded to clean it; even he himself joined the companions in cleaning. There is an authentic narration in Musnad Ahmad that Umar (RA) asked Kaab bin Ahbar (RA) where he should offer Salah? He replied, if you follow my suggestion, you should offer Salah from behind the Rock so that whole Qudus would be in front of you. Umar (RA) argued, ‘Your statement is similar to the Jews’. I will offer Salah at the place where the Prophet (SAWS) offered.’ So, he went to the Qiblah direction of the Haram and offered Salah with the victorious companions nearby the place where the Lighting Horse (Buraq) was tied. Then he ordered to build a Masjid there. (Aqsa Ke Aansu, P.: 25)
In the regime of Umayyad Caliphate, when the center of Caliphate was in Syria; Bayt Al-Maqdis had special importance. Walid bin Abdul Malik, the Umayyad Caliph reconstructed Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. The construction was at the place where Umar (RA) had built and his mosque had come under the new constructed Masjid. The present foundation is the same which was built by the Umayyad caliphs. The historian says as the victory of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is the memorable work of Umar (RA), similarly the credit of its marvelous construction goes to the Umayyad caliphs. After that, other Muslim Sultans continued adding to its construction; repairing, decorating and beautifying it. (Aqsa Ke Ansu, P.: 26)
Following the First Crusades, when the Christians occupied the Bayt al-Maqdis on 15th July 1099, they made a big change in al-Masjid al-Aqsa. When Salahuddin Ayyubi conquered it in 533 AH-1187 AC, he purified it from the rubbish of the Christians. With the exception of only 88 years, from the regime of Umar Farooq (RA) Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Masjid al-Aqsa had been under the administration of Muslims. Although currently for few years, it is under the extorter Zionist Israel government; but even now its arrangement and administration is under the Ministry of Awqaf, Islamic Affairs and Holy Places of Jordan.
Conquest of Bayt al-Maqdis and Umar bin Khattab (RA):
At the time of invasion on Syria, Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) has appointed separate officers for each province. Amr bin al-Aas (RA) was selected as the officer of Palestine who latter became the conqueror of Egypt and was appointed as its governor. He conquered some places of Palestine in the regime of the first Caliph and some areas in the regime of the second Caliph. Following the success of the battle of Yarmouk and conquest of Damascus, he headed to Bayt al-Maqdis with the army. He besieged it for few days. The Christians continued fighting from the fort, but they avoided from any treaty. At the same time, following the conquest of extreme districts Qansareen etc. of Syria, Abu Obaidah (RA) moved to Bayt al-Maqdis to assist Amr bin al-Aas (RA). Then the Christians requested for the treaty; but with the condition that Muslims’ caliph himself should come here and he should write the treaty. Abu Obaidah (RA) wrote a letter to Caliph Umar (RA) explaining the situation that the conquest of Bayt al-Maqdis depends on his arrival.
The caliph Umar (RA) called a meeting of the companions and presented the situation mentioned in the letter among them. Positive and negative both types of opinions were offered. The caliph preferred to go. He made Usman (RA) his deputy (in Madinah) and left for Bayt al-Maqdis riding on his horse in the company of some respected companions among them were Zubair (RA) and Ubadah bin Samit (RA) too.
The officers of Islamic army were informed to come to Jabiyah to welcome Amirul Mumineen, the leader of the believers. According to the instruction, Yazid bin Abu Sufyan (RA), Khalid bin Walid (RA) etc. welcomed him in Jabiyah. In the course of stay in Jabiyah, a group of the chiefs of Bayt al-Maqdis left for Damascus so that they could meet him. Following their arrival, agreement of the treaty of Bayt al-Maqdis was written. According to the explanation of Balazari and Azadi, agreement of Treaty of Bayt al-Maqdis was written after the arrival in Bayt al-Maqdis; whereas according to the narration of Tibri, it was written here.
Following the agreement, Amirul Muminin, left for Bayt al-Maqdis. Close to Bayt al-Maqdis, Abu Ubaidah (RA) and the chiefs of army were present to welcome him. The Muslims were feeling ashamed due to the ordinary dress and equipment of Amirul Mumineen that what Christians would think after looking at him. So, the Muslims presented a Turkish horse and expensive dress to him. But he refused to accept them saying: the dignity which Allah has granted us that is of the honour of Islam and that is enough for us. Briefly, he entered Bayt al-Maqdis in the same condition. As the most of the officers and collectors had gathered there, so he stayed for several days and issued necessary directions and orders. (Extracted from Al-Faruq, P.: 131-133)
Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa under the Occupation of Christians:
After the agreement of treaty of Bayt al-Maqdis in 16 AH/637 by Umar (RA), it remained under the control of Muslims rulers for centuries. They made it the symbol of peace. But unfortunately, in the First Crusades in 1099, the European Christians invaded the Muslim countries. In that invasion, the Christian invaders, to prove their tyranny, killing about 70 thousand Muslim males, females and children, occupied Bayt al-Maqdis on 15th July 1099. A good number of Muslims were killed in al-Masjid al-Aqsa. They made a church in al-Masjid al-Aqsa and began using several parts as residence. But it was the worse than that they made stable of the horses in al-Masjid al-Aqsa. The Christians succeeded in establishing Christian government in the whole Palestine.
The founder of Ayyubi Sultanate, Salahuddin Yusuf (1137-1193) son of Najmuddin Ayyub, who is popularly known as Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, was born in 532AH = 1137 in Tikrit in Iraq. His father and uncle: Asaduddin Sher Koh were chief officers in political and administrative affairs. Attributing to his great grandfather, Ayyub Shadi, he was called Ayyubi. After staying for some years in Tikrit, his father and uncle shifted in Mosul where Imamuddin Zangi welcomed them with open arms. After his murder, Nuruddin Zangi was made ruler with the assistance of Ayyubis. Nuruddin Zangi conquered Balbuk in 534 AH and made Salahuddin Ayyubis father, Najmuddin Ayyub its governor.
Ayyubi was brought up in Damascus. He learnt Islamic knowledge in the very city. He got expertise in soldiering and archery. Most of the members of his family were on the high posts. He got political insight from his father; whereas he learnt expertise of defeating the enemies in the battle ground from his uncle. Then he accompanied his uncle Asaduddin in the battle ground. Asad had good relation with Nuruddin. Nuruddin realized it fully that Salahuddin is equipped with proper ability of military and administrative affairs. So, he was assigned the post of chief officer of provincial police of Damascus which he handled beautifully. Just after taking the charge of the said post, he made Damascus free from the thieves, pickpockets and mischief-mongers and the city became protected and peaceful.
Following the conquest of Egypt, Ayyubi was made its ruler in 564 AH. He was Allah-fearing man, great warrior and famous conqueror. He is one of the well-known conquerors and rulers in the world history. His intelligence, sharpness, good policy and full understanding of the affairs, made the Egyptian nation get rid of Fatimid rule and merged it with the Nuri rule. Then Ayyubi conquered Yemen in 569 AH. Following the death of Nuruddin Zangi, Salahuddin took the charge as the chief ruler.
Ayyubi passed away when he was 55 years old on 4th March 1193 in Damascus, the capital city of Syria. He was buried near by the Umayyad Masjid in Damascus. His crown installation took place in 1174 as the Sultan in Cairo, the current capital city of Egypt. He served as Sultan almost 19 years. (Extracted from Salahuddin al-Ayyubi Wa Juhudu. Wa Tahreer Bayt al-Maqdis, P.: 223-229)
Conquest of al-Masjid al-Aqsa:
The biggest desire of Salahuddin Ayyubi was to conquer Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Masjid al-Aqsa. The Almighty Allah fulfilled his desire and they were conquered under his leadership. The conquest of Bayt al-Maqdis is considered one of his great heroic deeds in Islam. With his policy, wisdom and the power, he conquered Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Mosul, Akkah, Babylose, Yafa, Sayyidun, Beirut etc. and founded Ayyubi Sultanate. Current Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Hejaz, Yemen and several African countries were included in his Sultanate.
In 1186, in an invasion of Christians, Renald along with other Christians invaded Hejaz intending to attack Madinah. Ayyubi reacted to stop their action. He used combustible matter to stop the army of enemy which causes rage of fire on the ground. So, the war began in 1187 at a place called Hutten. Renald was chased and arrested in Hutten and killed.
Following the conquest of Hutten, Ayyubi headed to Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Masjid al-Aqsa to fulfill his old desire. The war continued for a week. Then the Christians who had occupied Bayt al-Maqdis laid down their arms and pleaded for mercy. The Christian rule didn’t last long. Without any bloodshed, he freed Bayt al-Maqdis from the Christians on 27th Rajab 538 AH = 12th October 1187. After 88 years, again Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Masjid al-Aqsa were under the rule of the Muslims. Salahuddin entered Bayt al-Maqdis as an ideal conqueror. Entering al-Masjid al-Aqsa, he himself placed the pulpit made by Nuruddin Zangi in al-Aqsa. The Muslims bathed al-Aqsa with water and rose-water. Ayyubi removed those changes which were made in the Christians regime and al-Masjid al-Aqsa turned to its original shape. With the conquest of Bayt al-Maqdis, the Christian regime established in 1099 came to an end. Palestine became the part of Ayyubi Sultanate. Once again, the chanting of “Allahu Akbar” was heard everywhere in Bayt al-Maqdis.
It is a noteworthy point that Salahuddin didn’t commit those cruelties and tyrannies after entering Bayt al-Maqdis which were committed by the Christian armies at the time of occupying that city on 15th July 1099. Rather Ayyubi provided protection and safety to each Christian for ransom. Those who failed to pay ransom, he himself and his brother Malik Adil paid ransom on their behalf. Thanks to his human loving, bravery, generosity, politeness, justice, forgiveness, good character and humbleness, not only among the Muslims, but also among the non-Muslims he was considered as a decent and respectable ruler.
British Gov. Occupation of Bayt Al-Maqdis and the Establishment of an Extorter Zionist State:
Bayt al-Maqdis remained under the rule of Muslims for centuries. Palestine was under the rule of Ottoman Caliphate from 934 AH = 1516. Administration of al-Masjid al-Aqsa was also under caliphate. With the offer of tempt and trap to the 34th Caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid Thani (1842-1918), the Jews made efforts to establish a Jew state in Palestine. But the Caliph did not agree in any case. With bad luck, in 1914 (1334 AH) in the First World War, the Caliphate had to face defeat. Then in 1336 = 1917, the British government occupied Palestine and Bayt al-Maqdis, according to the Balfore agreement, it promised to establish a Jew state in Palestine and the Jews were given general permission to migrate in Palestine. They continued migrating in Palestine and their number gradually grew. The Arab protested against it, but the protest had no effect and they continued coming from other countries and locating in Palestine. Due to the conspiracy hatched by England, America and France, the General Assembly of the UNO dividing Palestine, announced the establishment of a Zionist Jew State namely Israel at the 54 percent land of Palestine in 1947. Then that extorter state, with the help of its masters, waging the forceful war against the Palestinians, it committed mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinian males, females and children. The Zionist state didn’t spare any town or a village, but destroyed it badly and still it does. The extorter state continued occupying the Palestinian land day-by-day. Today, about 87% of Palestine is under its occupation. In 1967 Arab-Israel war, the illegitimate state occupied Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Masjid al-Aqsa and stopped the Muslims entering al-Masjid al-Aqsa freely even for worship and it continues up to now. Many countries of the world whose responsibility is to speak against such crimes of Israel are silent.
Occupation of Bayt al-Maqdis, al-Masjid al-Aqsa, its sabotage frequently, ban on Palestinians to enter al-Aqsa freely, mass murder of Palestinians etc. aren’t the open victory of the humiliated and rejected Zionist state. But it is a punishment for the Muslims due to their bad deeds and disobedient of Allah. The day Muslims would express sincere regret and remorse about their sins, return towards Allah wholeheartedly, follow totally the commandments of Shariah, instead of relying on others in their political and social affairs, rely fully on Allah and come in the battle ground believing in Islamic Jihad; Allah the Almighty will grant them a clear victory and al-Qudus and al-Masjid al-Aqsa would be under their control, In Shaa Allah.
Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani (1897-1976) writes: “Allah Ta’ala has made two places on this Earth to serve as the Qiblah or orientation for those who worship Him, the Baytul-Maqdis and the Baytullah in Makkah. But, the divine law relating to each of them is different. That Baytullah in Makkah shall be protected and disbelievers shall never take it over is a security concern that Allah Ta’ala has taken it upon Himself. The Event of the Elephant mentioned in Surah al-Fil (105) of the Holy Qura’an came as its result. When the Christian king of Yemen (Abrahah al-Ashram) invaded Baytullah, Allah Taala destroyed him and his army along with the contingent of elephants he had brought, through birds, much before he could reach Baytullah. But, this law does not apply in the case of Baytul-Maqdis. Instead, as the verses cited above tell us, when Muslims go astray and start indulging in disobedience and sin, this Qiblah will be snatched away from them and will pass into the control of disbelievers.” (Maariful Quraan 5/469) ****
*Moon Rays Trust School, Zambia, Africa,