The Saudi writer Osama Yamani published on the 13th of November 2020 in the Okaz daily a column that has produced anger and fury in the Islamic world. He repeated a claim that is made by radical Jews that “al Aqsa mosque is not located in Jerusalem and that Jerusalem is not important to Muslims, except for political goals. He also claims that al Aqsa mosque is a creation of the Umayyads!!!
I would like, in this article, to explain to Yamani and his friends who have come out with similar articles questioning Islamic nation’s principles and its valued holy places. A Palestinian child who has been following the narratives that are written by extremist Jews wouldn’t be accept Yamani’s claims. A Jerusalemite child, who daily sees signs that say “an Aqsa mosque” outside the Old City of Jerusalem, realizes that the occupiers somehow think that by not use the before AL Aqsa will somehow cancel his belief Al-Aqsa is one of the three holiest mosques in Islam. Or that the children of Jerusalem will lose their way to get to the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque and go to “Al Jaraneh” (in Saudi Arabia) which is known to Palestinians only from the Bar Ilan University’s Professor Moshe Kidar, who everyone knows is an expert at misrepresenting and forging the origins of the Islamic religion!!
Yamani says with astonishment: “if you ask anyone where is Al Aqsa Mosque millions of Muslims will say that it references in the Isra’a Sura in the holy Quran that it is in Palestine.”!!!
We would like to ask Yamani does it make sense that all these millions of Muslims can make this statement that al Quds al Sharif is in Palestine in vain or blindly? Yes, every Muslim with clear beliefs that have been handed down from generation to generation and has been unchanged to Muslims and part of their doctrinal faith of the oness of the Almighty and the prophecy of his messenger (May God bless him). Yes, they will say so because the stones of Al Aqsa are in Jerusalem and the graves of the prophet’s companions and the followers are here as is the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab’s covenant and the pulpit of Salah eddin Al Ayyubid are all witness to this 1400-year uninterrupted truth. Does Yamani also believe that the Caliphate Omar Ibn Al Khattab and Salah eddin Al Ayoubi and Sultan Suleiman the Great and HM Sharif Hussein and the millions of scholars and pilgrims who sacrificed and struggled to reach al-Aqsa were misguided to the wrong mosque!!!
Below are some proofs that debunk the claims of Yamani and that can attest to the correctness of the faith and the consensus of Muslims about the location of Al Aqsa mosque being in Al Quds al Shareef.
Yamani says “it is not known to many that the city of Jerusalem’s name was not mentioned during the life of the prophet or his companions. It was known in the old times as the city of Elijah the son of Arm son of Sam son of Noah. The proven name of the city of Jerusalem is Ursalem or Yarushalim (the city of peace).” Yamani uses that to questions like his sources among extreme Jews that Al Aqsa is not in fact the first qibla for Muslims.
We would like to note to Yamani that there are plenty of references in the Holy Quran to Jerusalem. The reference is Bait al Maqdes and it is also mentioned in the hadith when it talks about the importance of al Aqsa mosque.
Al Aqsa Mosque is the first qibla for Muslims and the third holiest mosque in Islam
Al Aqsa Mosque/Haram al Sharif and by extension the entire old city of Jerusalem is the third haram and one of the three most holy places in Islam. It is no less important than the two other mosques as some often claim, it is simply one of them. Al Quds (Jerusalem) was the first qibla of Islam according to some versions 16 years including period before the duty of prayer was and some say 16 or 17 months after the call for the duty of prayer. This is documented in God’s word in the Surat al Baqarah 2:142:
“The fools among the people will say, ‘What has turned them from the direction they were facing in their prayers formerly?’ Say: ‘To God belong the East and the West.”
Al Isra wal Miraj
To Al Quds (Jerusalem) the prophet Mohammad travelled from Mecca in the miracle of al Isra (Night Journey) to al Aqsa mosque. There our prophet Mohammad guided, as Imam, God’s other prophets in shared prayer and then our prophet was lifted to the seven heavens and God bestowed on him the five daily prayers that have been part of the Islamic faith for all Muslims since then and till now. This story is well documented in Surat al Isa’ 17:1 and in many True Hadiths.
Al Quds in the Holy Quran
Jerusalem is mentioned numerous times in the Holy Quran among them
Surat al Baqarah 2:58, Surat al Baqarah 2:63, Surat al baqarah 2:93,Surat al Nisa 4:154, Surat al Maida 5:21, Surat al Isra’a 17:4-7, Surat al Isra’a 17:104, Surat Marian 19:52, Surat Al Teen 95:1
According to Qur’anic interpretations the following references all refer to locations in Jerusalem as well “Al-Aqsa Mosque”, “Village”, “land”, “holy land”, “al Tur”, “al Masjid”, “Zaytoun,”
Al Quds also namely Beit Al-Maqdis appears in more than twenty Hadiths including Sahih Bukhari, Imam Ahmad, Tabarani and al Albani.
Al Quds in Haj traditions
Over 1400 years the tradition for Muslim pilgrims has been that after they completed their Haj to Mecca and after they visited Al Madina al Munawara they would sanctify the haj by visiting Al Quds as Sahih Bukhari said when he said that there are three mosques that one prepared to travel to Mecca, Medina and Al Aqsa in Jerusalem.
Al Quds also is important to Muslims because of its relationship, affirmed in the Holy Quran, with prophets and messengers. This relationship mentioned in the Holy Quran prophets like Adam, Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, Yashou, David, Solomon, Zakaria, Yahiya and our lady Mary, and especially our lord Issa. Muslims believe that he is the Messiah. The belief in all these prophets and their books is precondition demanded from every Muslim to prove his true Islam.
The Dome of the Rock: the holiest spot
The dome of the rock, which lies in the center of Al Aqsa mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif compound contains the rock which has the footprints of the Prophet Mohammad.
This is the rock from which our prophet ascended to the high heavens and to it our Prophet was returned to earth, that is why this is the holiest part of the entire AL Aqsa Mosque compound, which is blessed to all Muslims.
After all this does the writer Osama Yamani want more proof of the relationship between al Aqsa mosque and Beit al Maqdes (Jerusalem)? Does he want interpretations of what appears in the Talmud and the Holy Bible? Does he want an explanation to believe that when the Almighty says in the Surat al Saf “Ahmad”, he is in fact referring to our prophet Mohammad?
Yamani attempts to belittle the efforts of the Umayyad caliphs by claiming that they invented the story of AL Aqsa for political reasons so that people will divert attention from the holy Mecca’s Qaba’a.
This is another claim about the doctrine of the Umayyads and their belief of the value of Al Aqsa mosque and al Quds as a religious, political and civilizational center of the Islamic nation that doesn’t lessen from the value of the Haram in Mecca for Muslims. Otherwise the Umayyads would have used Jerusalem as a location for the appointment and the support of the caliphs and would not have made those public validations (mubaiyah) to take place within the compound of Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. If they had not appreciated the importance of Al Aqsa and Beit al Maqdes from a religious perspective, they could have created great palaces and mosques in Baghdad or in their capital of Damascus, but those two cities simply don’t have the religious importance of Jerusalem in the hearts and heads of all Muslims
Al Aqsa in Al Jaraneh close to Mecca
Yamani turns to the stories repeated recently by few Jewish orientalists who claim that al Aqsa mosque is located in Jaraneh between Mecca and Tayef and this mosque is beyond the valley and therefore is known as al Aqsa (far away) mosque and that there is another mosque built by a philanthropy called Al Dna (nearby) mosque. This all is from the article by Yamani.
Scholars have replied to Yousef Zaiden , who used the narrative of Moshe Kidar in 2015 when he surprised the entire Muslim world with this idea. He must have thought that with this crazy and obnoxious idea he will solve the Palestinian cause for which Al Aqsa mosque is the most important not only to Palestinians but to all Muslims.
These explanations including the words of Ayyash and the proof of the Quranic interpretation by Hashem AL Bharani and Kafi Kelini and others from the Shite references, which exaggerated the explanations of the location of al Aqsa and the claims of whether it is in the fourth heaven based on Israeli claims or in Jaraneh that were surely created to defame what the Umayyad Caliphs made holy. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all denominations in Shiites including the current Iranian leadership which gives Jerusalem and AL Aqsa as well as the Palestinian cause a high level of importance in their political deliberations.
Dr. Hussam eddine Afaneh of Al-Quds University one of the most important researchers notes that the salfite scholars in Palestine have depended on the claim of Al Aqsa being in Jaraneh on claims made by historians such as al Waqidi in his book Al Maghzi and al Azraqi in detailing the history of mecca and other locations. They have clearly been misunderstood whether on purpose or out of ignorance the language of Arabs and the historic locations. It is important for Yamani to search for Taybah village/city name in the Arab world. He will find seven Taybah villages only in Jordan and in Palestine. Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah is also called Taybah. Shall we dig which one has the true Tomb of our prophet Muhammad.
We can see clearly that the far away mosque in Jaraneh is called in reference to the nearby mosque and this has nothing to do with the blessed AL Aqsa in Jerusalem. The references by the Okaz writer Osama Yamani about the location of Al Aqsa is only a repetition of what Jewish Orientalists have been saying on late. They have published these fake ideas about the location of Al Aqsa that it is in fact located in Jaraneh or in Sinai or near Al Medina or in heaven as a way to help them remove al Aqsa from the attention of the Islamic world and Muslims.
Idea of skeptics and these heresy repeaters can transfer AL Aqsa to Chile or Congo or New Zealand in the same way that they have questioned the authenticity of the holy Quran and other hadith of Sahih Bukhari and Muslaem as well as well-respected Islamic references. Those who don’t believe in the prophecy of Mohamad will certainly refuse to accept the miracle of the Isra’a of the prophet.
Osama Yamani’s words might be well received in certain quarters and will be considered a major victory from those repeating these claims especially among radical Jewish authors because it is helpful to them to question Islamic beliefs, especially when it is done in Islamic newspapers about the holiness of Al Aqsa and its location.
Muslims will continue to consider Al Aqsa mosque and its location in Jerusalem as a central part of their belief in the same way that they believe in the importance of Qaba in Mecca. They will continue to be faithful to it as the heart of Palestine and the center of its cause. For it thousands have become martyrs and have fought for it with Sala eddine al Ayoubi which led to its liberation after battles in Hiteen, Ein Jalout as well as modern battles of the Great Arab revolution and the 1936 revolt and the battle to liberate Jerusalem and Bab Al Wad in 1948 and the struggle continues for Palestinians and Muslims in defense of Al Aqsa.
Finally, I would like to advise Yamani learn from scientific research on Jerusalem, e.g., by asking the following question: why and when in the modern history many Muslim scholars and sheikhs have been increasingly denying Jewish relationship to Jerusalem. The answer is simple: when Jewish settlers started their aggressions against the Holy Sites and their announced plans to occupy al-Aqsa, convert it into Jewish temple or destroy it. Yamani will find the majority of Jewish scholars would disagree with Moshe Kidar stronger than my disagreement with him.
The author is the executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the restoration of AL Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Kailani also is 2007 Hebrew University Ph.D. graduate in sociology and anthropology on the subject of Jerusalem between the holy and the mundane.