A historical overview on Al-Quds and its significance
Al-Quds is the oldest city in history that bears infinite scars from ancient times. From the Proto-Canaanite period dating around 4500-3500 BC, through the Neo- Babylonian period, the Roman period, the Byzantine period, the Rashidun, Umayyad, and Abbasid periods, in addition to the Fatimid period until the decline of the Ottoman period and surrendering the city to the British mandate in 1917, the city has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.
For Muslims, Al-Quds was the first Kiblah, before the Ka‘aba in the holy city of Mecca. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him and His Family), during the Night Journey, Al-Israa, he prayed leading the Prophets (Peace Be Upon Them) at the Furthest Mosque (Al-Masjid Al Aqsa). This spot was the place from which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) proceeded on his next journey, the ascension to heaven, Al- Mi‘raj. “Glory be to Him Who made His servant (Prophet Muhammad) to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) to the Farthest Mosque (Masjid al-Aqsa) 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.” (17:01). Thus, Al-Quds is recognized as a sacred site in Islam, and there are several verses in the Holy Quran that refer to it.
For Muslims, Al-Quds is the third most holy site in Islam. For Jews, Al-Quds is also a holy city and thus they pray in its direction, mention its name constantly in prayers and recall the city in the blessing at the end of each meal. However, their claim is invalid since archaeologists found no building works dating from the time when Solomon built his temple, which according to the Book of Chronicle, equates with David’s altar, concluding that it is primarily mythical.
However, historically speaking, Al-Quds has generally been the site for Muslim pilgrimage, prayer, study or residence. Al-Aqsa Mosque was a particular seat of learning. Muslim scholars came to Al-Quds from distant lands. Just as it is true to say that the first textbook in Islam was the Quran, so it is true to say that the first school was the mosque.
Al-Quds is more than just a dome, or a minaret. Thus, Muslims celebrate an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan, International Quds Day, to remember Al-Quds. The celebration expresses solidarity with the Palestinian people against the occupation. This annual celebration, or remembrance, was designated by the late Ayatollah Imam Khomeini (ra) who called Muslims and Arabs to keepAl-Quds and the Palestinian cause alive in their political and spiritual conscience and to support it to end its undue suffering.
The edited article originally published in Bayynat.