Jerusalem's main mosque is the silver-domed El Aksa, "the furthest". Al-Aqsa Mosque (The Farthest Mosque), EL AQSA MOSQUE (Arabic, Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa), commonly refers to the southern congregational mosque that is part of the complex of religious buildings in Jerusalem known as Al-Haram al-Qudsi al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) to Arabs and Muslims, although the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is considered Al-Aqsa Mosque according to Islamic law.
The name "Al-Aqsa Mosque" translates to "the farthest mosque" ("the remote mosque" according to some translations, such as that of Muhammad Asad), or 'The End' and is associated with the Isra and Mi'raj, a journey, Muslims believe was made around 621 by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (c. 570-632) on the winged steed Buraq, which was brought to him by the Archangel Gabriel
The largest mosque in Jerusalem, on the southern side of the Temple Mount.
After completion of the Dome of the Rock, construction began at the site of the original timber mosque built in the time of 'Umar. A vast congregational mosque rose up, accommodating more than five thousand worshippers. Originally commissioned by 'Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, it was apparently completed by his son Al-Walid in 705AD.
The building became known as Masjid al-Aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque, although in reality the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is considered Al-Aqsa Mosque, the entire precincts inviolable according to Islamic law. Every Friday prayer, the Al-Aqsa Mosque building overflows, with thousands of worshippers who must make their prayers outside in the courtyards of the vast open expanse of the Noble Sanctuary.
While the Dome of the Rock was constructed as a mosque to commemorate the Prophet's Night Journey, the building known as Al-Aqsa Mosque became a centre of worship and learning, attracting great teachers from all over the world.
It has been modified several times to protect it from earthquakes, which sometimes occur in the area, and to adapt to the changing needs of the local population. The form of the present structure has remained essentially the same since it was reconstructed by the Khalif Al-Dhahir in 1033 AD. It is said that he did not alter it from the previous architecture except to narrow it on each side.
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Today the El Aqsa Mosque is a huge hall 82 X 55m (26 X 180ft.), with seven rows of columns supporting the roof. Over the southern wall is a mihrab (niche) oriented towards Mecca, the holy city of Islam. This wall, which is decorated with mosaics, is one of the few remnants if the original mosque. Near the mihrab are a preacher's platform and another elevated one fir the leader of the service. There is no other furniture in the spacious hall; the congregation sits and prostrates on the carpet covered floor. East of the main hall are three rooms. One of them- the Mihrab of Zachariah- is a small Crusader chapel with a typical medieval rose window and other architectural features of that period. West of the main hall is a smaller one of the Crusader period, used to today as a women's paryer hall.
Under the masque is a large subterranean hall divided in two by a row of seven pillars. Although it is called El Aqsa el Kadima - "the ancient El Aqsa" it has nothing to do with the mosque but was one of the original entrance passages to the Temple Mount in the Second Temple period. It is usually closed to the public.
The Masque of El Aksa
Jerusalem's main mosque is the silver-domed El Aksa, "the furthest". The original mosque was constructed in the early eighth century by Caliph Walid, son of Abd El Malik. Prone to frequent earthquakes, the mosque has often been rebuilt do that there are only few remains of the original building. The roof rests on beautifully decorated pillars and arches and the floor is covered with priceless rugs. From 1099-1187, the Crusaders used the mosque as headquarters of the Templar Knights, but aftre the defeat of the Crusaders, Saladdin restored it as a mosque.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, Israel - view toward east.
The mosque along the southern wall of the Temple Mount.
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