What is the significance of Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock to the Shi’a?
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
According to our observations, only three narrations have been reported on the authority of our Imams (peace be upon them) about the significance of Jerusalem. The first of which is on the authority of the Commander of the Believers (peace be upon him) who said:
A (single) prayer in Jerusalem is equal to thousand prayers, and a (single) prayer in the Grand Mosque is equal to a hundred thousand prayers.
Al-Tahthib, by Sheikh al-Tusi, volume 1, page 327 & Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih, by al-Sadouq, volume 1, page 233
This narration was reported through al-Sakouni of Imam al-Sadiq, of his father Imam al-Baqir on the authority of the Commander of the Believers (peace be upon them all).
The second narration is by Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (peace be upon them both), he said to Abu Hamza al-Thumali:
The Four Mosques are; the Sacred Mosque, the Mosque of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure family), the Mosque of Jerusalem and the Mosque of Kufa. O’ Abu Hamza. A (single) obligatory prayer performed (at these mosques) is equal to Hajj, and an additional prayer is equal to Umrah.’
Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih, by al-Sadouq, volume 1, page 229
The third narration is reported by Ali, son of Ali, son of Razin, the brother of Di’bil, of Imam al-Ridha (peace be upon him) on the authority of the Commander of the Believers (peace be upon him):
‘Four of the palaces of Paradise are in this world: the Sacred Mosque, the Messenger’s Mosque, the Mosque of Jerusalem and the Mosque of Kufa.
Amali, by al-Tusi, page 369
The rest of the narrations that speak of the significance of this mosque, as well as the first narration mentioned above, have all come from the opponents of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them); as al-Sakouni was not a Shi’a. This means that we can only rely on the other two narrations, the one through Abu Hamza al-Thumali and the one through Ali, son of Ali, son of Razin.
We cannot find in the narrations of our Imams (peace be upon them) that much of a special or exceptional significance regarding Jerusalem as much as we find in their narrations regarding the Grand Sacred Mosque, the Prophet’s Mosque, the Great Mosque of Kufa or the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him). We cannot even find a single narration about the significance of the mosque of Jerusalem reported by al-Sheikh al-Kulayni (with whom may Allah be pleased) in his book al-Kafi in the chapter that includes the most recommended mosques by our Imams’ (peace be upon them). We find, for example, in this chapter narrations that mention the significance of al-Quba Mosque, the Mosque of al-Ahzab, the Mosque of Fadhi’kh, al-Fath Mosque, al-Ghadeer Mosque, the Well of Umm Ibrahim, the Mosque of Sahlah in al-Kufa, the Sacred Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. Still, there is not a single mention of the Mosque of Jerusalem.
Therefore, we do not acknowledge what the opponents of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) narrate regarding the mosque of Jerusalem. We consider many of them to be Israeli narrations or transmitted through Ka’b al-Ahbar. One may easily realise this by looking at the narrations of Abu Huraira, as the exaggeration in it regarding the significance of Jerusalem is quite evident.
During the ruling period of Abdul Malik, son of Marwan, there was a special focus on Jerusalem. He wanted to turn people away from making the pilgrimage to Mecca so that they would not be influenced by Abdullah, son of al-Zubair, who had declared himself a caliph and therefore posed a challenge to the son of Marwan. As a result, many fabricated narrations were spread regarding the significance of Jerusalem by the followers of Abdul Malik, son of Marwan, as an attempt to attract people to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem instead of Mecca! Abdul Malik, son of Marwan, built the Dome of the Rock and claimed that Allah, the Most Exalted, had made it His footstool on earth and that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure family) had ascended from it to the heavens!.
There is no proof found to validate such claims. This rock has no significance in Islam; it was originally sanctified by the Jews who were able to, cunningly, persuade Muslims to sanctify it too! The intention of Abdul Malik, son of Marwan, for building the Dome of the Rock and encouraging people to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem was to persuade them to sanctify Jerusalem more than the Ka’bah and the Grand Sacred Mosque!
Abdul Malik, son of Marwan, commissioned the building of the Furthest Mosque (i.e. al-Aqsa) and the Dome of the Rock to divert people from making the pilgrimage in Mecca and win over their hearts. People then used to stand at the rock, circulate it just how they would around the Ka’bah, slaughter (their sheep) on the day of Eid and have their heads shaved.
Al-Nihayah, by Ibn Kathir, volume 8, page 308
Believers should be able to distinguish between the Dome of the Rock and the Furthest Mosque. The Furthest Mosque has a significance in Islam, whereas the innovated Dome of the Rock does not. People usually mix up the two together and consider them to be one. Unlike the mosque of the Rock and its dome, the Furthest Mosque is the Mosque of Jerusalem, which has a green dome.
Non-Shi’as, until today, keep on propagating the myths about the Dome of the Rock. They claim that it is suspended in air and that it shelters the Prophet’s footprint as well as Angel’s fingerprints! You only need to revise history to find out that such claims were originally made by the known Jew, Ka’b al-Ahbar, who was able to promote such myths through his students Umar, son of al-Khattab, Abu Huraira, Abul Darda’, al-Mughira, son of Shu’bah, Abdullah, son of Umar, and others.
Narrated of Urwa:
We were sitting in the presence of Abdul Malik when he said: ‘Ka’b said: ‘The rock is the footstool of the All-Merciful on the Day of Judgement.
Tafsir al-Tabari, volume 16, page 262
Abu Na’im narrated, Ka’b said:
Allah, the Exalted, observed the earth and said: ‘I shall lay My foot on some of you!’ The mountains moved up through the air while the rock moved low! He thanked the rock for this, so He placed His foot on it! He said: ‘This is My position on which My creatures will be resurrected. This is My Paradise and Hellfire and the place on which My scale will be.
Hilyatul Awliya’, volume 6, page 20
Our Imams (peace be upon them) have opposed Ka’b and stood up against his fabrications. In one narration, the Commander of the Believers (peace be upon him) said:
O Ka’b! Woe to you! The rock does not bear His Exaltedness; neither does it accommodate His Glory!’ Until he (peace be upon him) said: ‘If the rock and the air were both classified as infinite alongside Him, then they would be infinite just like Him!
Bihar al-Anwar, volume 40, page 194
According to our narrations, we find that the Furthest Mosque has, in fact, lower significance than the other Holy Mosques. For example, al-Kulayni reports on the authority of Imam Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (peace be upon him):
A man came to the Commander of the Believers (peace be upon him) while he was at the Mosque of Kufa and said: ‘May peace be upon you, O Commander of the Believers, as well as the mercy and blessings of Allah.’ He replied the peace-wishing back. He (the man) said: ‘May I be sacrificed in your name. I am heading to the Furthest Mosque, so I wanted to greet you and bid farewell to you.’ He (the Commander) said: ‘What were you hoping to get from this?’ The man said: ‘May I be sacrificed in your name, reward.’ He said: ‘(Go) Sell your riding animal, consume your stored food, and pray (instead) in this Mosque, for an obligatory prayer performed in it is equal to an accepted Hajj, and an additional prayer is equal to an accepted Umrah.
Al-Kafi, volume 3, page 491
Therefore, you can see from the above narration that the Commander of the Believers (peace be upon him) turned the man away from heading to Jerusalem and instead recommended him to pray in the Mosque of Kufa, which has more significance in Islam. Therefore, the Mosque of Kufa has more sanctity than the Furthest Mosque.
That said, we do recognise the sanctity of the Furthest Mosque and Jerusalem, consider it to be amongst the holy places in Islam, that it was the Qibla of Muslims for years and shall be the place on which Prophet Jesus, son of Mary (peace be upon them both), will be praying behind the Imam of the Time (peace be upon him). However, we do not incline to the exaggeration made by the opponents of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) by giving it a higher significance than the other Holy Mosques, as well as we do not include the Jews’ rock to it or acknowledge it to be part of it, for we only take our religion from the pure Family of Muhammad (peace be upon them).
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib