Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Al Aqsa Mosque - The First Qibla?

Was Al Aqsa Mosque the first Qibla of muslims?
Tell you what.. I do not think so! I get a different response from Quran.

First, to describe the historical significance of this mosque, I quote from wikipedia.
"The historical significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque is further emphasized by the fact that Muslims used to turn towards Al-Haram al-Sharif when they prayed. As it was the place at which Muhammad performed the first commanded prayer after Isra and Mi'raj, it became the Qibla (direction) that Muslims faced during prayer and continued to be so for sixteen or seventeen months"
Qibla is the direction in which muslims pray, it is currently The Sacred Mosque in Mecca. When Prophet Muhammad went on his Ascension to Heaven trip (mairaj), his first stop was Al Aqsa Mosque where he led the congregational prayer of Prophets (albeit the fact that there was no mosque in Jerusalem at that time!) Thus Al Aqsa mosque became the first Qibla for muslims to pray and later they were directed to pray towards the current Qibla. You must have heard the story related to it as well. While in prayers, the verses to change the Qibla were revealed and Prophet and the people observing the prayers turned towards the new Qibla. Basically stating to change the direction from Al Aqsa mosque to Masjid ul Haram, The Sacred Mosque.

When we start reading the Quran, the events turn out like this. The Qibla did change from one direction to the other.

2:142 - The fools among the people will say: "What hath turned them from the Qibla to which they were used?" Say: To Allah belong both east and West: He guideth whom He will to a Way that is straight.

It appears it was a test for the believers.

2:143 - ... and We appointed the Qibla to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (From the Faith). Indeed it was (A change) momentous, except to those guided by Allah. And never would Allah Make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people Most surely full of kindness, Most Merciful.

Now the Prophet is being told that he and the believers are to face towads the qibla that they like i.e. The Sacred Mosque.

2:144 - Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a qiblah which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you are, turn your face towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; and Allah is not at all heedless of what they do.

Did you see it? The last direction is towards the Sacred Mosque. 'Before' that it must be Al Aqsa Mosque. So in the test, the muslims were given a new Qibla (Al Aqsa Mosque). Basically it goes like 1) praying towards Sacred Mosque then 2) Test: Now face Al Aqsa Mosque and then 3) Face again towards Sacred Mosque. The Sacred Mosque was then rendered as the final direction towards which muslims all over the globe face and pray.

This proves that Al Aqsa mosque was not the first Qibla of muslims rather Sacred Mosque was. Sacred Mosque was used as the first Qibla. It was this place where Prophet Abraham was given the religious rites and was called the 'first muslim'.

2:125 - And when We made the House (at Makka) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael, (saying): Purify My house for those who go around and those who meditate therein and those who bow down and prostrate themselves (in worship).

2:128 - "Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

I know nothing much of a discussion but I thought to share what 'we think it was' and 'what it really was'. Correct your history. Or correct mine if you want to.


Anonymous said...

When we talk about Qibla, we refer to salaah (not prayer)
On the night of Miaraj, our Nabie (SAW) was given the blue-print of how to perform the salaah. For the performance of the salaah, the 'furthest' mosque was chosen as the first qibla. This was later changed to Makkah.
There is a difference between prayer and salaah.
Salaah has to be preceeded by wudu (washing) - whilst prayer does not require wudu.
So, therefor there were no change and another change in Qibla.

PostMan said...

thanks anonymous..

Actually there is this notion that Prophet Muhammad was given the salat on his ascension trip to heaven. This is wrong because all the religious duties were already present and they were actually given to Prophet Abraham.

Kindly check

Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Muhammad commanded Muslims to pray towards Jerusalem, the prayer direction of the Jews, not the Al-Aqsa Mosque since it was noly built 40 years after the building of Mecca. Muhammad then rescinded this and told them to pray towards the Kabah in Mecca. The Quran records the reaction of the people when Muhammad decided to change the prayer direction. Thus this means also that even Muhammad recognized that the Jews were already in the present land Israel and praying there even before the people of Israel was dispersed, and even before the creation of Qiblah at Mecca? So why aren't the present Muslims don't recognize Israel as the previous residence of Jerusalem as well?

PostMan said...

Jews were present in present-day Palestine and its a historical fact. Who says muslims do not agree with that? What we do not agree to is the 'occupation' of it now :)