The first Qibla and its importance10 min read

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The first Qibla and its importance

Palestine is part of the region known as Sham, and its virtues are mentioned in the Hadiths. Sham is the land honored for being the place where many prophets (عليهم السلام) were sent. Numerous prophets migrated to this region from various other areas and made it their dwelling place, including Prophet Syed Ibrahim, Prophet Syed Isma’il, Prophet Syed Ya’qub, and Prophet Syed Yusha (عليه السلام). Even Prophet Syed Musa (عليه السلام) prayed for his death in this land (Bayt al-Maqdis) when the Jews plotted against Prophet Syed Isa (عليه السلام). Allah Subhanahoo Wata’ala, then took him up to the heavens, and his return will also be to this very land.

Although the birth and early years of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (), took place in Mecca, the miraculous night journey (Isra and Mi’raj) led him to visit the sacred land of Masjid al-Aqsa (Bayt al-Maqdis). This is where Allah appointed him as the leader of all the prophets, and the beginning of the journey took place from here, in Bayt al-Maqdis (Masjid al-Aqsa).

The eternal enemies of Muslims, the Jews, have consistently attempted to desecrate this sacred land in an effort to harm Muslims. They have always shown disrespect for this sacred land. Recently, they have been relentlessly bombing the first Qibla of Muslims for over ten days, causing a massacre of Muslims who reside there.

Palestine (Sham) and the Importance and Virtue of Masjid al-Aqsa

The significance and virtue of Palestine and Masjid al-Aqsa are highlighted in several texts, which shed light on the importance of this region and its sacred mosque.

The universe is Allah’s second home on Earth

The first Qibla is the second home of Allah built on the world of the universe.

وَعَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ قَالَ: قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَيُّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَوَّلُ؟ قَالَ: «الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ» قَالَ: قُلْتُ: ثُمَّ أَيْ؟ قَالَ: «ثُمَّ الْمَسْجِدُ الْأَقْصَى» . قُلْتُ: كَمْ بَيْنَهُمَا؟ قَالَ: «أَرْبَعُونَ عَامًا ثُمَّ الْأَرْضُ لَكَ مَسْجِدٌ فَحَيْثُمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلَاةُ فصل»

Abu Dharr said that he asked God’s Messenger which mosque was set up first in the earth and was told that it was the sacred mosque. He asked which came next and was told that it was the Aqsa mosque. He asked how long a space of time separated their building and the Prophet told him it was forty years, adding, “Then the earth is a mosque for you, so pray wherever you are at the time of prayer.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)

Sayyiduna Sulaimaan (عليه السلام) constructed the Holy House (Bayt al-Maqdis) and prayed to Allah. (Sunan al-Nasai: 3366)

It is unequivocally established that these sacred places, the House of Allah (Bayt Allah), Bayt al-Maqdis, and the Prophet’s Mosque, are the inheritance of the honorable Prophets. The true heirs and custodians of these places are only and exclusively the Muslim Prophets.

Blessed, Sacred Land

Palestine, which is actually situated in the region of Sham (Greater Syria), is an extremely sacred and blessed land. It is where the Lord of the Worlds, Allah, had His chosen Prophets build His houses, and this is the same sacred land where the Owner of the Dominion sent many of His honored Prophets. This is why this land is referred to as the Land of the Prophets.

Allah, the Almighty, commanded Prophet Abraham and Prophet Lot, (ﷺ) to migrate to this blessed land after delivering them from their respective peoples.

وَنَجَّيْنَـٰهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ ٱلَّتِى بَـٰرَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

And We rescued him and LūT towards the land we blessed for all the worlds. (21:71)

In a similar manner, Moses, (عليه السلام) also, when he advised his people to enter this town, expressed it with sacred words:

يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْأَرْضَ ٱلْمُقَدَّسَةَ ٱلَّتِى كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَرْتَدُّوا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنقَلِبُوا۟ خَـٰسِرِينَ

O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has destined for you, and do not turn back, lest you should turn losers.” (5:21)

Meaning, this sacred land is for those who believe in and respect Moses, peace be upon him, not for those who are great mischief-makers, break their covenants, distort heavenly scriptures, conceal the truth, and are the killers of the community of prophets. In the same way, when Allah, the Almighty, mentioned our Lord Solomon, (عليه السلام) He referred to this land as the Blessed Land:

وَلِسُلَيْمَـٰنَ ٱلرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةًۭ تَجْرِى بِأَمْرِهِۦٓ إِلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ ٱلَّتِى بَـٰرَكْنَا فِيهَا ۚ وَكُنَّا بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَـٰلِمِينَ

And for Sulaimān, (We subjugated) the violent wind that blew under his command to the land in which We placed Our blessings. And We were the One who knew everything. (21:81)

إلى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا، يَعْنِي الشَّامَ

By that, the Blessed Land referred to is Syria.

Similarly, in this blessed verse, Allah the Almighty has designated this sacred land as a land of blessings.

وَأَوْرَثْنَا ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَانُوا۟ يُسْتَضْعَفُونَ مَشَـٰرِقَ ٱلْأَرْضِ وَمَغَـٰرِبَهَا ٱلَّتِى بَـٰرَكْنَا فِيهَا ۖ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ ٱلْحُسْنَىٰ عَلَىٰ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا۟ ۖ وَدَمَّرْنَا مَا كَانَ يَصْنَعُ فِرْعَوْنُ وَقَوْمُهُۥ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْرِشُونَ ١٣٧

We caused those people who were deemed to be weak (the Israelites) to inherit the East and West of the land that We had blessed. And the sublime word of your Lord was fulfilled for the children of Isrā’īl, because they stood patient; and We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people used to build and what they used to raise high. (7:137)

The location of Masjid al-Aqsa

In the Noble Quran, Allah the Almighty also mentions Lady Maryam and her son, our Lord Isa (Jesus), peace be upon them, settling in this very land and highlights its virtue, designating it as a place of tranquility. Thus, it is a divine guidance:

وَجَعَلْنَا ٱبْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَأُمَّهُۥٓ ءَايَةًۭ وَءَاوَيْنَـٰهُمَآ إِلَىٰ رَبْوَةٍۢ ذَاتِ قَرَارٍۢ وَمَعِينٍۢ

And We made the son of Maryam (Mary) and his mother a sign, and gave them shelter on a height, having a place of rest and running springs. (23:50)

Hafiz Ibn Kathir has preferred that by this elevated place or Talye, it is meant as the House of Allah (Bayt al-Maqdis).

Former Qibla of Muslims

Before the Muslims used to offer prayers facing towards Bayt al-Maqdis, but later Allah Almighty changed the Qibla and directed the Muslims to face the Kaaba as their new Qibla.

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، سَمِعَ زُهَيْرًا، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ، رضى الله عنه أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم صَلَّى إِلَى بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ سِتَّةَ عَشَرَ شَهْرًا أَوْ سَبْعَةَ عَشَرَ شَهْرًا، وَكَانَ يُعْجِبُهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ قِبْلَتُهُ قِبَلَ الْبَيْتِ، وَإِنَّهُ صَلَّى ـ أَوْ صَلاَّهَا ـ صَلاَةَ الْعَصْرِ، وَصَلَّى مَعَهُ قَوْمٌ، فَخَرَجَ رَجُلٌ مِمَّنْ كَانَ صَلَّى مَعَهُ، فَمَرَّ عَلَى أَهْلِ الْمَسْجِدِ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ قَالَ أَشْهَدُ بِاللَّهِ لَقَدْ صَلَّيْتُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قِبَلَ مَكَّةَ، فَدَارُوا كَمَا هُمْ قِبَلَ الْبَيْتِ، وَكَانَ الَّذِي مَاتَ عَلَى الْقِبْلَةِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُحَوَّلَ قِبَلَ الْبَيْتِ رِجَالٌ قُتِلُوا لَمْ نَدْرِ مَا نَقُولُ فِيهِمْ، فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ ‏{‏وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ ‏}‏

Narrated Al-Bara: The Prophet (ﷺ) prayed facing Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months but he wished that his Qibla would be the Ka`ba (at Mecca). (So Allah Revealed (2.144) and he offered `Asr prayers(in his Mosque facing Ka`ba at Mecca) and some people prayed with him. A man from among those who had prayed with him, went out and passed by some people offering prayer in another mosque, and they were in the state of bowing. He said, “I, (swearing by Allah,) testify that I have prayed with the Prophet (ﷺ) facing Mecca.” Hearing that, they turned their faces to the Ka`ba while they were still bowing. Some men had died before the Qibla was changed towards the Ka`ba. They had been killed and we did not know what to say about them (i.e. whether their prayers towards Jerusalem were accepted or not). So Allah revealed: — “And Allah would never make your faith (i.e. prayer) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered (towards Jerusalem). Truly Allah is Full of Pity, Most Merciful towards mankind.”   (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Permission to travel towards Masjid al-Aqsa for the sake of reward

Particularly, it is not permissible to travel towards any place just for the sake of traveling. However, there are certain places for which this privilege is granted, and among them, Masjid al-Aqsa is honored in such a way that special permission to travel towards it is permissible.

وَعَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” لَا تُشَدُّ الرِّحَالُ إِلَّا إِلَى ثَلَاثَةِ مَسَاجِدَ: مَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى وَمَسْجِدِي هَذَا ”

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported God’s Messenger as saying, “Animals are saddled only for prayer in the three mosques: the sacred mosque, the Aqsa mosque, and this mosque of mine.”*
* These are the only mosques to which long journeys may be made purely for the purpose of praying in them. The sacred mosque means the Ka’ba. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Land of Isra and Mi’raj

It was from here that Allah Almighty took His Prophet on the journey of the heavens. This is mentioned in the Holy Quran.

سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًۭا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ

Glorious is He Who made his servant travel by night from Al-Masjid-ul-Harām to Al-Masjid-ul-AqSā whose environs We have blessed, so that We let him see some of Our signs. Surely, He is the All-Hearing, the All- Seeing. (17:1)

While describing the Mi’raj, he said

“The essence of Allah is pure, and He, in one night, transported His servant (Muhammad) from the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca) to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem), the surroundings of which We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs. Undoubtedly, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. The term ‘Al-Aqsa’ means ‘the farthest,’ as the Al-Aqsa Mosque is quite distant from the Sacred Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. This is why it is given this name.” (Tafsir Qurtubi 217/10)

Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (رضي الله عنه) mentioned the wisdom behind the journey of Isra and Mi’raj from Mecca to Beit al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), stating that the beginning of Islam, the prophethood, and the completion and fulfillment of the Islamic religion, including the coming of the Mahdi and Jesus (عليه السلام), will be from the region of Sham (Syria). (Manaqib al-Sham wa Ahliha, p. 2/1)

Imamship at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the farthest side of the Earth, is the only place where all the honorable prophets gathered simultaneously and offered their congregational prayers. This honor is not achieved anywhere else, and it is an honor bestowed upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that he led all the honorable prophets in prayer, as mentioned in an authentic narration in Sahih Muslim. He said:

فَخَانَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَأَمَمتُهُمْ

Meaning, when the time for prayer came, I led the prophets in prayer.” (Sahih Muslim: 172)

The Virtue of Prayer in Beit al-Maqdis

Narrated by Syedna Abu Zar: We were in a gathering with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and we discussed whether the Masjid al-Aqsa (in Beit al-Maqdis, Jerusalem) is more virtuous or the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then said:

صلاةٌ في مَسْجِدِي هَذَا أَفْضَلُ مِنْ أَرْبَع صَلَوَاتٍ فِيهِ، وَلَنِعْمَ الْمُصَلَّى، وَلَيُوشِكُنَّ يَكُونَ لِلرَّجُلِ مِثْلُ شَطَنِ فَرَسِهِ مِنَ الأَرْضِ حَيْثُ يَرَى مِنْهُ بَيْتَ الْمَقْدِسِ ه مِنَ الدُّنْيَا جَمِيعًا – أَوْ قَالَ: خَيْرٌ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا

My one prayer in my Masjid al-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque) is superior in reward to four prayers in Masjid al-Aqsa (in Beit al-Maqdis, Jerusalem), and Masjid al-Aqsa is the best place for prayer. Soon, there will come a time when a person will have a piece of land equivalent to the length of his horse’s rope from which he will be able to see Beit al-Maqdis. At that time, praying in it (Masjid al-Aqsa) will be more virtuous than the entire world and whatever is in it. (Al-Mustadrak li al-Hakim)

The Pardon of Sins through Prayer in Masjid al-Aqsa

Narrated by Syedna Abdullah bin Amro (رضي الله عنه):

Feel free to ask if you have any more translation requests or if you need further clarification on any of the translated passages.

حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْجَهْمِ الأَنْمَاطِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَيُّوبُ بْنُ سُوَيْدٍ، عَنْ أَبِي زُرْعَةَ السَّيْبَانِيِّ، يَحْيَى بْنِ أَبِي عَمْرٍو حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الدَّيْلَمِيِّ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ‏”‏ لَمَّا فَرَغَ سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ دَاوُدَ مِنْ بِنَاءِ بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ سَأَلَ اللَّهَ ثَلاَثًا حُكْمًا يُصَادِفُ حُكْمَهُ وَمُلْكًا لاَ يَنْبَغِي لأَحَدٍ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَلاَّ يَأْتِيَ هَذَا الْمَسْجِدَ أَحَدٌ لاَ يُرِيدُ إِلاَّ الصَّلاَةَ فِيهِ إِلاَّ خَرَجَ مِنْ ذُنُوبِهِ كَيَوْمَ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏”‏ أَمَّا اثْنَتَانِ فَقَدْ أُعْطِيَهُمَا وَأَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونَ قَدْ أُعْطِيَ الثَّالِثَةَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When Sulaiman bin Dawud finished building Baitil-Maqdis, he asked Allah for three things: judgment that was in harmony with His judgment, a dominion that no one after him would have, and that no one should come to this mosque, intending only to pray there, but he would emerge free of sin as the day his mother bore him.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Two prayers were granted, and I hope that the third was also granted.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

In times of trials, keep hold of the army of the people of Sham (Syria)

حَدَّثَنَا حَيْوَةُ بْنُ شُرَيْحٍ الْحَضْرَمِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا بَقِيَّةُ، حَدَّثَنِي بَحِيرٌ، عَنْ خَالِدٍ، – يَعْنِي ابْنَ مَعْدَانَ – عَنْ أَبِي قُتَيْلَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ حَوَالَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ سَيَصِيرُ الأَمْرُ إِلَى أَنْ تَكُونُوا جُنُودًا مُجَنَّدَةً جُنْدٌ بِالشَّامِ وَجُنْدٌ بِالْيَمَنِ وَجُنْدٌ بِالْعِرَاقِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ حَوَالَةَ خِرْ لِي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنْ أَدْرَكْتُ ذَلِكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ عَلَيْكَ بِالشَّامِ فَإِنَّهَا خِيَرَةُ اللَّهِ مِنْ أَرْضِهِ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهَا خِيَرَتَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَأَمَّا إِنْ أَبَيْتُمْ فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِيَمَنِكُمْ وَاسْقُوا مِنْ غُدُرِكُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَكَّلَ لِي بِالشَّامِ وَأَهْلِهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Narrated Ibn Hawalah:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: It will turn out that you will be armed troops, one is Syria, one in the Yemen and one in Iraq. Ibn Hawalah said: Choose for me, Messenger of Allah, if I reach that time. He replied: Go to Syria, for it is Allah’s chosen land, to which his best servants will be gathered, but if you are unwilling, go to your Yemen, and draw water from your tanks, for Allah has on my account taken special charge of Syria and its people. (Sunan Abi Dawud)

The Holy Land will not fall

The turmoil of the Antichrist is a great turmoil for this nation; every prophet warned his people about it. The Antichrist will not enter four places. As the Messenger of Allah said:

لا يَأْتِي أَرْبَعَةَ مَسَاجِدَ – فَذَكَرَ الْمَسْجِد الْحَرَامَ، وَالْمَسْجِدَ الْأَقْصَى، وَالطُّورَ، وَالْمَدِينَةَ

The Antichrist will not be able to enter four places: the Sacred Mosque, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mount Sinai, and Medina.” (Musnad Ahmad 23683:88/39)

 

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