History of Al Aqsa Part 5 – The first Qiblah


Welcome to a series of talk on the virtues of Masjid Al-Aqsa.


We start again today with a poem “oh beautiful city, oh holy city, let them not pollute your purity, may Allah protect you o city so fine, o Jerusalem are you not the essence of Palestine lovely Palestine.


Will you lose not Jerusalem your sweet flavour, to save her from crying you should all endeavour with you oh mighty land but fear not to save you united we stand poison fruit they feed you to make you sleep awake oh Jerusalem your children weep we’re just in Jerusalem we weep to see you grieve but rejoice the perfume of freedom you will soon achieve you search listen but your children you do not hear yet you seek them so sweet so dear you call to them to hasten, hasten to return to Palestine and resurrect the nation your children pledge to uphold your title oh Jerusalem Palestines most beautiful treasure to free you from aggression will be this ummah’s greatest pleasure


The essence of the importance of Jerusalem as we’ve mentioned eminents directly from the holy Quran and ofcourse from the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and one aspects that binds us all is the fact that masjid Al-aqsa was the first Qibla of this ummah and this is mentioned ofcourse in the holy quran and we learn from the seerah of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)


Throughout the prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) life while he was in Makkah he turned his body towards Al-Quds for prayers. The Prophets biographer states that he use to stand towards the southern end of the Kabah so that while he was in prayer and face Jerusalem the Kabah use to be in front of him


The centrality of Al-aqsa sanctuary for Muslims is not only greatly emphasised by this fact that it was the first qiblah but also by the fact that all the prayers conducted by the previous generations faced Masjid Al-aqsa remain valid


Further the hadeeth emphasise the respect of the first Qiblah Masjid Al-Aqsa this makes it incumbent upon Muslims to continue with love and affection the reverences of Masjid Al-aqsa sanctuary


Now unfortunately the hadeeth most of us quote when we’re referring to the first Qiblah is to say that after 16 or 18 months after hijrah the qiblah was changed from Al-aqsa to the haram of Makkah.


Subconsciously we think that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) only prayed for 16 or 18 months facing Masjid Al-aqsa and this could not be further from the truth because throughout the Prophets life in Makkah before hijrah (migration) he use to face Masjid Al-aqsa for salah (prayer) and we also know from the seerah that although salah was made fardh (compulsory) in the night of Al-isra/Me’raj the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) immediately after nabuwat (prophethood) use to perform Salah (prayer), and there is a biography quoted by ibn Ishaq that a man came to Makkah and he asked Abbas ibn Muttalib and asked him when he witnessed the Prophet with 2 other people as to what they were doing and he turned around and said I have never seen anybody before do this and these were the only 3 people and they were the Prophet (peace be upon him), Ali and Khadija, 3 of them were the only 3 muslims in this world and they were performing salah (prayer) facing masjid Al-aqsa.


The history of Masjid Al-aqsa begins with the creation of mankind itself from Adam (peace be upon him) and also understand that the qiblah begins with the nabbuwat (prophethood) of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) right from the very inception of his nabbuwah (prophethood)


So within the framework of muslims is the ideal concept that masjid Al-aqsa was the first qiblah but the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself spent 12 years of nabbuwah (prophethood) in Makkah and thereafter 10 years in Madinah but of those 16 to 18 months while he was in Madinah he also faced Masjid Al-aqsa, in fact for nearly 13 and a half years of his life the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) faced masjid Al-aqsa for salaah.


What we’re trying to say here that most of his life (the life of the prophet peace and blessings be upon him) he spent majority of that time facing Masjid Al-aqsa rather than the haram of Makkah.


I am trying to emphasise here for us the issue of Masjid Al-aqsa


This is not at the expense of the haram of Makkah or Madinah Munawwarah, they have their own elevated status but we have to build up the love for Majid Al-Aqsa, the holy Quran in Surah bakarah has great long verses in which Allah tells us the merits of why the qiblah was changed and how and what impact it has.


There’s 3 hadeeth (narrations) we have to emphasise upon in which the concept and idea of the qiblah the change of the qiblah was


There is one hadeeth quoted in Sahi Bukhari it’s a very long hadeeth and we need to understand this, it’s quoted by Al-bara ibn Azib who says that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah he stayed with his grandfather’s maternal uncle from the Ansaar (helpers), he offered his prayers facing bait ul maqdis for 16 to 17 months but he wished that he could pray facing the Kabah, the first prayer which he prayed facing the kabah was the Asr prayer in the company of some people then one of those who had offered the prayers with him came out and passed by some people in the Masijd were bowing during the prayers (asr salaah this is) he said addressing them by Allah I testify that I have prayed with Allah’s apostle facing the Kabah, hearing that those people changed their direction to the Kabah immediately


This is Masjid e Qiblatain in Madinah Munawarah and it is something that we need to (whenever we go for umrah or for Hajj) to visit Masjid e Qiblatain and to remember that this is a place where the Musallis while they were in prayer changed from the Qibla of Al-Aqsa to the Haram of Makkah.


And also it may be befitting in there to remember and to make dua for Masjid Al-Aqsa by facing the haram of Makkah, to say that the Qiblah that was once ours has become very difficult for us to visit and make dua that Allah take you that he has brought you to the Masjid e qiblatain and that he has taken you to the second qibla the haram of Makkah and also takes you to the first Qibla the Qibla of Al-Aqsa.


The history of the change of the Qiblah is quiet in depth and quiet important for us to understand and comprehend and Abdullah ibn umar narrates that we prayed with Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for 16 to 17 months then Allah ordered him to change his Qiblah towards Makkah and before changing the Qiblah in Madinah amongst the non-muslims there was a lot of chiming and a lot of teasing of the muslims that now you’ve changed your Qiblah how can the prayers of those who faced Al-Aqsa be accepted, then Allah through the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) he informed the people all the prayers that were made facing Masjid Al-Aqsa are not abrogated and they will be accepted in the court of Allah


It’s also telling them Al-bara whilst he was in Madinah after the first treaty of Aqabah they went back to


Makkah, on the way what happen was Salah (prayer) time came and he felt a strong urge no to pray towards Masjid Al-Aqsa  because he felt that with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in Makkah, that they were Ansaar’s (helpers) going from Madinah to Makkah he felt that it would be better to face the haram of Makkah and he was the only one in the group who changed his Qiblah alone  to Makkah the rest of them carried on praying towards Masjid Al-Aqsa, when they arrived in Makkah Mukarama the ansaar’s (helpers) obviously secretly approached the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)


Al-bara had approached the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and told him of what he had done the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) turned around and said if you had done what had been instructed to you then that would have been your Qiblah, a clear instruction that he should’ve not changed the Qiblah without having the prior commands from Allah. This also gives us a very strong emphasis that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not face the haram of Al-Aqsa because he wanted to. He did this because he was commanded to by Allah and the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) after hijrah did not change the Qiblah without waiting for a command from Allah. It’s indicative that it was Allah that had made Masjid Al-Aqsa the first Qiblah for this Ummah. And only when Allah commanded the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to change the Qiblah did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) change the Qiblah.


Despite the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in his heart of hearts after the hijrah (migration) felt it better for him to be facing the haram of Makkah for salaah (prayer) but he still had to wait for the commands of Allah to change that.


Now just to emphasise on the fact of simple prayers in Masjid Al-Aqsa we learn from the history that apart from being the Qiblah Jerusalem has served many Prophets and has been honoured by their presence, in particularly we learn directly from the hadeeth earlier mentioned that Adam (peace be upon him) visited Masjid Al-Aqsa, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) migrated there, Ishaaq (peace be upon him) raised his family there, Dawud (peace be upon him), Sulaiman (peace be upon him) were the kings and the prophets of the region, Zakariyyah (peace be upon him) was the imam (leader) of Masjid Al-Aqsa, Yahya (peace be upon him) was the son of Zakariyyah (peace be upon him) also performed salaah in Masjid Al-Aqsa, Maryam (peace be upon her) also resided in Masjid Al-Aqsa and that is where is she received the glad tidings of the birth Esa (peace be upon him), and of course he was also connected to Masjid Al-Aqsa. Therefore the connections between these great prophets and Masjid Al-Aqsa and its surrounding area’s extols the virtues of Al-Aqsa


Muslims hold all these prophets in reverence and because all these propehts are connected to Masjid Al-aqsa you can see the reverence and importance Masjid Al-Aqsa gains in the hearts and the minds of a believer and its greatness as I mentioned to you doesn’t simply stem from minor events that took place either in modern history but it goes back to the creation of mankind himself from Adam (peace be upon him) and all these great prophets who are mentioned in the holy Qura’an.


As Muslims we do not differentiate one Prophet from the other apart from accepting from the fact Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is khatamul ambiya (the last of all prophets) he’s the last of all prophets and he is the leader of all prophets but we treat all the other prophets as equal and all these great prophets had great connection from Adam (peace be upon him), Sulaiman (peace be upon him)  Dawud (peace be upon him)  Ibrahim (peace be upon him) yaqoob (peace be upon him) all these prophets have had a direct and indirect connection with Masjid Al Aqsa and  the surrounding areas of Jerusalem and therefore it is very important for us to hold close and regarding Dawud (peace be upon him)  in surah Sa’ad  there is a beautiful verse “has the story of the litigants reached you of those who entered the private chambers by climbing in over the wall as they came upon Dawud (peace be upon him) he was frightened of them, they say be not afraid we are just two litigants one of us has committed excesses against the other so judge rightly between us and be not unjust and guide us to the right way” this event is narrated in the holy Qura’an as I mentioned where Dawud (peace be upon him) was in his mihrab while he was busy reciting prayers praising Allah, the mihrab referred to here in the holy Qura’an most people believe it was within the sanctuary of Masjid Al-Aqsa. The mihrab of Dawud (peace be upon him) is thought to have existed and we don’t exactly know where it was this is how amazing alive the history and the geography of Masjid Al-Aqsa brings a believer close to all the prophets that are mentioned in the holy Qura’an and of course the glad tidings given to Maryam (peace be upon her) about the birth of Esa (peace be upon him) was also taken place in Masjid al-Aqsa.


There’s another verse in Surah Al-imran where upon it says “there upon her lord so graciously accepted Maryam and honoured to her a goodly growth and placed her in the care of Zakariyyah, whenever Zakariyyah visited her in the sanctuary he found her provided with food he asked her Maryam how do these come to you because there were fruits out of season, there was beautiful fruits out of season she said it is from Allah. Allah provides sustenance to whom he wills beyond all reckoning.


Again this great miracle, where did this take place. This took place in and around Masjid Al-Aqsa. Therefore it is imperative that this blessed land and this area is something we should derive benefit from and we should all make dua that Allah take us there to visit this place so that we can gain from this great blessings that Allah has bestowed for this ummah.


Jazakallahu khairun


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