Research on approach and understanding of Islamic History, Sunna and Hadith.
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Post by mubashir »

Friends Salaam

Wanted to share the following claim that was emailed to me. I want some input to see how much of it is based on facts and how much on fiction:

Thanks in advance.

Toronto, Canada

a. Restoration of the Mosque site by Umar

Before Jerusalem came under the control of Muslims in 638, it was
widely understood that al-Aqsa mosque is the same as David's sanctuary. When Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattāb was given the key to the city by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, he signed with him a treaty that is known as the "Covenant of Omar" and he later asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to
show him what Umar spelled out as "Masjid Dawood" (Mosque of David). This was called David's sanctuary or prayer niche (mihrab Dawud), in the Qur'an (38:21).
David chose the site on which Solomon built his temple.

It was an abandoned place and abused by the Romans and the Church at the time.

The Patriarch took him to the door of the sanctuary which was almost
blocked due to the trash that was placed at the door. Umar looked left and
right and said: “Allah is Great, I swear by the one who hold my soul in his hand that this is the Mosque of David which the prophet of Allah described to us after his night journey.” The Caliph Umar started cleaning up the place. He asked Kaab al-Ahbar (كعب
الأحبار), a Jewish Rabbi who had converted to Islam and came with Umar from Medina, to guide him to the place
of the Rock. Umar used his cloths to remove the trash covering the
Rock, and other Muslims did what Umar was doing.

After cleaning up the place, Umar
went to the al-Mihrab (a chamber inside the Mosque where the Imam
usually stands) and started praying and reading Surat Sad from Quran.

b. Construction of the Mosque

Interior of Al Aqsa mosque showing mihrab The term the farthest mosque
is considered in Islamic tradition as the general name for the precinct of
al-Haram al-Sharif ("The Noble Sacred Enclosure") in Jerusalem, as well
as the specific name for the mosque located at its southern edge.

Umar wanted a place of prayer that did not infringe on nearby Christian
and Jewish worship places. That place, to the south of the rock, was
developed into a mosque. Sometime between 687-691, Caliph Abd al-Malik built a shrine
over the sacred rock, and it was named Qubbat As-Sakhrah, which means
"The Dome of the Rock." Some years later, in 709-715, Umayyad caliph
al-Walid, son of Abd al-Malik, built, renovated, and expanded the mosque south of the
Dome, and at this time called the mosque al-masjid al-aqsa, which means
"the farthest mosque".

c. Isra and Miraj:

The Qur'an, chapter 17 (Al-Isra), verse 1: “ Glory be to Him (God) Who
made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote
mosque of
which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

My remarks:

1. Isra and Miraj:
I do not know why Mr Mubashir Inayat is trying to doubt the words from
Quran by saying that Isra & Miraj is just fiction. But for the adversaries
of slam no one has doubted that it was a physical journey. And that the
prophet went from Mecca to Jerusalem (where he prayed at the Al aqsa
site), and then ascended to heaven for his visit there that resulted in Allah
enjoining Muslims to pray 5 times every day.. The date of this event is
621 CE (before prophet's migration to Medina).

2. Al aqsa mosque:
As elaborated in the above Wikipedia excerpt the term Al aqsa refers to
the holy site. Prophet David did build a sanctuary there in Jerusalem in
about 1,000 BC (Abraham built Kaaba in Mecca in about 4,000 BC). When Muslims got control of Jerusalem caliph Omar built a mosque at that site (from which prophet had ascended to heaven) without interfering with the pre-existing Jewish and Christian structures. It is totally erroneous to say that the Al Aqsa mosque was built on top of a Jewish religious shrine. Later other Muslim caliphs built/expanded the said mosque.

The temple that prophet Solomon had built earlier in that area was
demolished by the Roman emperor Nebundachez who also razed other Jewish
structures of that time and expelled Jews from that area. It happened
pre-Islamic times.

The very first qibla towards which Muslims prayed was the Al aqsa site.
was only later after the Muslims migrated to Medina that Allah
prophet Mohammad to change the qibla towards Kaaba in Mecca. This is a
documented historical fact. In fact there is a mosque in Medina called
Masjid Qiblatain that has the distinction of being the mosque where
praying towards Al Aqsa, prophet receievd the command to change the
direction of Qibla towards Kaaba (Mecca).

3. When in the name of interfaith dialogue any Muslims make erroneous
statements such as above on key Islamic religious matters, because they
think it shows tolerance of other faiths, they cause much harm to the
efforts of those Muslims who are making genuine interfaith efforts.

Kaleem Kawaja
Toronto, Canada
Arnold Yasin Mol


Post by Arnold Yasin Mol »

Salam brother,

Here are some references of some non-Muslim sources on Jerusalem and comments made by Dr.Ayman:

John bar Penkaye

Relatively speaking, John spoke favorably of the Arabs (around 687CE). He conveyed that no attempts were made by the Arabs at forced conversion. He said that they only required each person to pay a tribute allowing him to remain in whatever faith he wished. He spoke highly of Mu'awiya and wrote: "Justice flourished in his time and there was great peace in the regions under his control; he allowed everyone to live as they wanted." He also spoke of the prosperity and unprecedented economic boom under his rule. His only criticism of the Arabs was the lack of persecution of people who are not Roman Christians: "There was no distinction between pagan and Christian," he complained, "the faithful was not known from a Jew."

So here the picture that we get is one where the Ummayadds seem to be a kind of secular regime that lets everyone live and believe freely as they wished as long as they paid taxes. This attitude was unheard of under Roman Christian rule where even Christians themselves who slightly deviated from the Roman Christian Church's dogma faced brutal persecution.

Interestingly, John inadvertently gave us a crucial clue about what caused corruptions to appear so quickly and a strong motive for why those corruptions rapidly and firmly took hold. Naturally, due to the practice of levying a tax on non-Muslims, many people must have converted not out of conviction but only to save money. Obviously, the majority of converts only converted superficially but largely remained loyal to their forefathers' doctrine. Thus, pagans, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians who converted simply imported their practices and beliefs and assimilated them into their new religion. This allowed them to participate in the economic boom without giving up their forefathers' traditions.

Anastasius of Sinai

Anastasius (died 700CE) is a fervent Christian apologetic and his writings merely focused on attacking other religions. He writes angrily of some Saracens, "who had expressed their disbelief and blasphemed the holy place, its icons and its crosses". He mocks them, saying that "no such miracles had occurred in any other religion, or in any synagogue of the Jews or Arabs."

What is interesting here is that Anastasius talks about Saracens as BOTH Jews and Arabs and describes them in the same terms. So once again we get the impression of a very close alliance that goes well into the Ummayyad dynasty. This is completely contrary to the traditional Sunni accounts, which claim that the prophet severed his ties with the Jews and persecuted them long before the Ummayyads. This confirms that Hadiths talking about Muslims killing and persecuting Jews were invented in a later period after the relationship went sour.

Anastasius talks about the enslavement of Christian prisoner of wars from islands such Cyprus. He indicates that the masters of the Christians performing forced labor in Sinai were Jews and the slaves were refused permission by their Jewish master to attend mass in honor of the Virgin Mary. So here we have the Jews taking slaves from the wars fought by the Saracens. So once again, we see that Jews played major roles in those wars and benefited from them as victors do. The enslavement of prisoners of war is a Jewish and pagan practice that was adopted by the Saracens. Therefore, naturally there was a strong motive for fabricating Hadiths justifying such practices by claiming that the prophet did the same.

Jacob of Edessa

Jacob of Edessa (died 708CE) mainly wrote about how a Roman Christian can cope with the new reality of Christians being rapidly reduced to a religious minority. In doing so, he described in passing some of the practices of the Muhajirin and the Jews. Jacob was in favor of leniency. For example, he said that priests may give the blessing of the saints to the Muhajirin or the pagans. He said that they may also teach the children of Muhajirin, Harranians, and Jews.

What is interesting to note here is that Jacob refers to three entities, Muhajirin (Muslims), pagans, and Jews. What is surprising is that according to Jacob, Arab paganism continued to exist as late as the beginning of the eighth century. This is in line with the Ummayyad policy of secular tolerance towards other beliefs as long as they paid taxes as other contemporaneous eye witnesses reported in their manuscripts as we saw earlier.

In another passage, Jacob writes to priests on how to deal with Christians who convert to Muslims or pagans.

We should not rebaptise a Christian who becomes a Muhagir or pagan (mhaggar aw mahnep) then returns, but the prayer of penitents is to be said over him by the bishop and a period of penance enjoined upon him.

This again shows that Arab paganism was still practiced at the time of Jacob. In another passage, Jacob's account confirms that Christians converted on their own, without being forced to do so:

"Many people who were members of the church will deny the true faith of the Christians, along with the holy cross and the awesome Mysteries, without being subjected to any compulsion, lashings or blows."

This confirms the earlier Ummayyad policy described earlier by John bar Penkaye.

Here is a very interesting quote from Jacob's manuscripts that has significant implications on the traditional Sunni accounts:

"All we have regarding Haggar (Islam) are the notices that 'Muhammad (Mhmt) went down for trade to the lands of Palestine, Arabia and Syrian Phoenicia,' that 'the kingdom of the Arabians (Arbaye), those whom we call Tayyaye, began when Heraclius, king of the Romans, was in his eleventh year and Khusrau, king of the Persians, was in his thirty-first year' (620-21CE), and that 'the Tayyaye began to carry out raids in the land of Palestine.'"

What is interesting here is that Jacob's dating of the events pushes back the date of the beginning of Arab conquests by at least 12 years. According to the traditional accounts, in the year 620CE Islam was still in its infancy and the prophet still hasn't even emigrated from Makkah. According the traditions, the Muslim kingship over Arabia wasn't even established until 632CE and the raids on the Romans in Palestine didn't begin until afterwards. The discrepancy in the dates between the hearsay-based traditions and the archeological manuscript-based eye witness accounts places serious doubts over the entire traditional history of events.

In a letter John the Stylite, Jacob is answering a question about the direction prayer. It is one of the very few places where non-Muslim writers talk about the Muslim practices:

"Your question is vain . . . for it is not to the south that the Jews pray, nor either do the Mhaggraye (the Muslims). The Jews who live in Egypt, and also the Mhaggraye there, as I saw with my own eyes and will now set out for you, prayed to the east, and still do, both peoples?the Jews towards Jerusalem and the Mhaggraye towards the Ka'ba. And those Jews who are to the south of Jerusalem pray to the north; and those in the land of Babel, in Hira and in Basra, pray to the west. And also the Mhaggraye who are there pray to the west, towards the Ka'ba; and those who are to the south of the Ka'ba pray to the north, towards that place. So from all this that has been said, it is clear that it is not to the south that the Jews and Mhaggraye here in the regions of Syria pray, but towards Jerusalem or the Ka'ba, the patriarchal places of their races.

Now this is significant in light of the previous accounts discussed above about the Muslims building some sort of temple on the site of the temple mount in Jerusalem. This correlates with an interesting note by Arculf, the Pilgrim who in the 670s CE wrote the following:

'In that famous place where once stood the magnificently constructed Temple, near the eastern wall, the Saracens now frequent a rectangular house of prayer which they have built in a crude manner, constructing it from raised planks and large beams over some remains of ruins. This house can, as it is said, accommodate at least 3000 people."

Another interesting account is by the Rabbi Simon ben Yohai who wrote in 680CE or so:

"The second king who arises from Ishmael will be a lover of Israel. He restores their breaches and the breaches of the Temple. He hews Mount Moriah, makes it level and builds a Hishtahawaya (mosque) there on the Temple rock, as it is said: "Your nest is set in the rock."

Could this be a reference to this second king building the Dome of the Rock? Is this second king, the second Caliph?

Now when we combine this with the accounts of the Jews also rebuilding a temple on the site of the Temple mount we get the impression that there were TWO structures built on the site of the Temple mount. One was built by the Muslims while the other built by the Jews who were in close allegiance against the Roman Christians. As Sebeos (or the anonymous writer) described, sometimes later, the Muslims took over the Jewish-built Temple and the Jews built another temple elsewhere in Jerusalem. At that point, the TWO structures became "Islamic". Those could very well be the originals of the two present structures of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.

Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. ca. 639)

the godless Saracens entered the holy city of Christ our Lord, Jerusalem, with the permission of God and in punishment for our negligence, which is considerable, and immediately proceeded in haste to the place which is called the Capitol. They took with them men, some by force, others by their own will, in order to clean that place and to build that cursed thing, intended for their prayer and which they call a mosque (midzgitha). (Pratum spirituale, 100-102 [p. 63])


So these Non-Muslim accounts confirm the Muslim accounts that there was no Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

Prophet time - 630s: No specific Muslim Temple
638-660s: The first Muslim Temple in Jerusalem is established
660s-700: The second Muslim Temple in Jerusalem is established by taking over the Jewish Temple next to it

Also the word Asra cannot refer to a journey to the sky, there are 2 major theories:

1. The word Asra comes from Sara meaning to travel by night, this also can ONLY refer to a horizontal travel and not one going 'up'.

2. Here is Ahmed Ali in his translation of the Quran:
"The interpretation of this verse (17:1) as the Prophet's being carried by night from the sacred mosque at Makkah to Al-Aqsa mosque at Jerusalem, and its assocation wit the Prophet's ascension to heaven, me'raj, starts 2 or 3 hundred years later with the compilations of Hadith and Tafsir. At the time of revelation of this Surah, there was no Al-Aqsa or any other mosque behind the Temple of Solomon, as Baidawi has observed. Historically, the Prophet migrated by night to Madina some 300 miles away from Makkah, and al-aqsa means distant, and mosque means a place where God is adored. Raghib and Muhit point out that the word isra as used here is not derived from sara yasri, to walk or journey by night, but from siratun, meaning God took His devotee to an open and spacious region, as-saru meaning to open out and siratun-nahar the zenith of the day. And it was at Madina where the Prophet's mission spread out to its widest horizon." [Ahmed Ali 'Al-Qu'ran; A contemporary translation; page 249 note 2 on verse 17]

The historian Kanan Makiya also says in his novel 'the Templemount' that the story of the me'raaj to Jerusalem was concocted as riots with Jews started as the Jews believed the Muslims had no right to have a building on their holy site. The Jews accussed the Muslims of having no historical background connection with the site, and thus had no legitemate claim to the site. To counter this accussation, people started to make up stories on how the Prophet did go there.

Many stories were concocted after that and contradict each other. Most stories were mixed Jewish stories, as for example the ladder that Jacob suppossedly saw in his dream, where angels climbed up to heaven.

There are also many contradicting stories if something was on the mount or not. It was mostly covered with trash and rubble, most believe the site had no building left. Also to believe the 'niche' of David was still there is complete nonsense as the Temple was completely destroyed by the Babyloniers around 500BC, and was rebuild by the Romans. This rebuild Temple was destroyed during the riots of 70AD, and the Jews were banned from Jerusalem to prevent further uprisings. After that, the Christians used the site as a trashsite to mock the Jews. It is impossible that anything from David still stood there, and it is highly unlikely any structure was build there after the last destruction.

1. No temple or structure at the site at the time of the Prophet.
2. The word Asra cannot mean ascension to heaven.
3. The stories on the me'raaj contradict each other and were only made up in a response to the Jewish accussations of having no right to the location.

Dr.Shabbir's comment on Asra:

Surah 17 – Al-Asra – The Night Journey
[Author’s Note] This is the 17th Surah of the Qur’an. Some historians refer to it as Surah Bani Israel. It has 111 verses. ASRA (night journey) is often mixed up with MI'RAJ (Ascension). Since Allah is Omnipresent, the notion of anyone going to meet with Him over the skies does not stand up to reason. "ASRA" signifies night journey and it refers to the beginning of the exalted Messenger's emigration from Makkah to Madinah by night. Verses 20:77 and 26:52 use the same term for migration of Prophet Moses along with his followers across the sea. Also consider 17:2.
Masjid Al-Aqsa means, the Remote Mosque and refers to the ‘Remote Mosque’ in Madinah, the place where Muslims used to establish congregational prayer before the Prophet's arrival to the city. "Masjid" here may also be understood as Madinah being the place of collective submission to Allah's Commands.

The famous Masjid Al-Aqsa (the so-called Qiblah Awwal, or the supposed First Holy Sanctuary, also widely known as Haram Sharif) in Jerusalem was, in fact, built in 72 A.H. (691 C.E.) by the Umayyad Ruler, Abdul Malik bin Marwan, about 60 years after the exalted Messenger passed on.
Jerusalem, until the Muslim conquest under the second Caliph of Islam in 637 C.E., had been under the control of the Byzantine Christians for centuries, and there was no person worshiping in a Masjid anywhere in the world but Madinah.

Hence, the question of the presence of a Masjid in Jerusalem during the life times of the exalted Prophet should not arise.
Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 637 C.E. during the Rule of the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Umar. And when he visited the place, he continued to pray in open grounds, although Pope Severinus gave him the Key to the city and invited him to pray in the Church of Holy Sepulture. But Hazrat Umar feared that Muslims might start converting churches into Masjids, so he politely declined. If a Masjid were present he would have prayed there.
The word 'Mi'raj' (Bodily Ascension of any human being) nowhere occurs in the Qur’an. Yet, under erroneous traditions it is a popular, though non-Qur’anic, belief among Muslims that the exalted Messenger was taken up physically unto the heavens to meet with Allah!
The Qur’an as usual sets the records straight by asserting that the First ever Holy Sanctuary was the Ka’bah built by Prophets Abraham and Ishmael in Makkah. And, that the Divine Laws are unchangeable under all circumstances. Bodily Ascension is a Biblical, and not a Qur’anic theme at all.

With the Glorious Name of Allah, the Instant and Sustaining Source of all Mercy and Kindness.
17:1 Glorious is He Who initiated the migration by night of His servant from the Sacred Masjid to the Remote Masjid whose environs We did bless that We might show him of Our Signs (20:23). (That the Divine System will begin to prevail from therein). Verily, He is the Hearer, the Seer.
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Post by mubashir »

Thank your for such a detailed reply Brother Arnold. This should serve as important material to set the record straight.

The mail claim of Traditional Muslims is there was a partial ruin of "David's Mosque - Mihrab Daud" at the place where Omar not only prayed but "said" he heard the Messenger referring to it". One wonders why the Romans leave it partially standing in 70AD when they razed the other buildings to the ground. This is an important point to keep in mind.

Omar was much smarter than that. He not only had some areas cleaned of trash because of it's importance to the Jews, but declined to pray in a Christian Church for fear of setting a precdent. He purposely prayed at open ground. Some claim he built a wooden mosque on the Temple Mount. Other believe the Muslims, out of their love and respect for Omar, build a mosque over the area where he prayed.

Chances are caliphs after Omar got a bit carried away and started to build a mosque on Temple Mount ground which was referred to Al-Aqsa Mosque becuase it was the farthest from Medina. As one of the writers claimed that when when faced with Jewish criticism over building a Mosque on their holy site, stories were fabricated to establish Muslim's claim over the area.


Toronto, Canada
Toronto, Canada
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