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Masjid-Al-Quds

The city of Jerusalem is known in Arabic as "Al-Quds" or "Baitul-Maqdis", this means The Noble, Sacred Place. Jerusalem is perhaps the only city in the world that is considered historically and spiritually significant to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Perhaps you are wondering why Jerusalem is considered a holy city in Islam? Why is this place so important to Muslims?

Jerusalem is known as the land of many prophets, peace be upon them all. Muslims revere all of the "Biblical" prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus - peace be upon them all. They all taught the Oneness of God. One writer describes that "the sanctification of the connection between Mecca and Jerusalem is like a blessed tree, watered by the strivings and yearnings and self-sacrifice of Prophets, saints, soldiers, artisans, women, and people of all walks of life and nationalities who revered Jerusalem as the Holy City of God and as a symbol of human submission to the One Creator" (Nusseibeh, "Monotheism in Two Sacred Sanctuaries").

Jerusalem was the first "Qibla" for Muslims - the place toward which Muslims turned in prayer. It was many years into the Islamic mission (16 months after the Hijrah), that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was instructed to change the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca. The fools among the people will say: "What hath turned them from the Qibla to which they were used?" Say: To Allah belong both east and West: He guideth whom He will to a Way that is straight. (the holy Quran, Chapter 2, Versus 142) Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Apostle a witness over yourselves; and We appointed the Qibla to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Apostle from those who would turn on their heels (From the Faith). Indeed it was (A change) momentous, except to those guided by Allah. And never would Allah Make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people Most surely full of kindness, Most Merciful.(the holy Quran, Chapter 2, Versus 143) We see the turning of thy face (for guidance to the heavens: now Shall We turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do.(the holy Quran, Chapter 2, Versus 144) It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad said, "There are only three mosques to which you should embark on a journey: the sacred mosque (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), this mosque of mine (Madinah, Saudi Arabia), and the mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem)."

It is Jerusalem that Muhammad (peace be upon him) visited during his night journey and ascension (called "Israa and Miraaj"). In one evening, the angel Gabriel miraculously took the Prophet from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Furthest Mosque (Al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem. He was then taken up to the heavens to be shown the signs of God. The Prophet met with previous prophets and led them in prayer. He was then taken back to Mecca. The whole experience (which Muslim commentators take literally and Muslims believe as a miracle) lasted a few hours of a night. The event of Israa and Miraaj is mentioned in the Qur’an, in the first verse of Chapter 17 entitled 'The Children of Israel.’

Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). (the holy Quran, Chapter 17, Versus 1) We gave Moses the Book, and made it a Guide to the Children of Israel, (commanding): "Take not other than Me as Disposer of (your) affairs."(the holy Quran, Chapter 17, Versus 2) O ye that are sprung from those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah! Verily he was a devotee most grateful.(the holy Quran, Chapter 17, Versus 3) And We gave (Clear) Warning to the Children of Israel in the Book, that twice would they do mischief on the earth and be elated with mighty arrogance (and twice would they be punished)!(the holy Quran, Chapter 17, Versus 4) When the first of the warnings came to pass, We sent against you Our servants given to terrible warfare: They entered the very inmost parts of your homes; and it was a warning (completely) fulfilled.(the holy Quran, Chapter 17, Versus 5)

This night journey further reinforced the link between Mecca and Jerusalem as holy cities, and serves as an example of every Muslim's deep devotion and spiritual connection with Jerusalem.

It is the hope of every Muslim that the Holy Land will be restored to a land of peace.

TAKEN FROM http://www.ancient-history.nl/Islam/