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It is now commonly known among researchers and experts in Islamic architecture that Al-Aqsa Mosque was originally a small prayer house built by Caliph ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (13-23 A.H. / 634-644 C.E.), following the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 15 A.H. (636 C.E.). This prayer house was in the southeast corner of the Haram, and was so simple that it survived several natural disasters. Hence, it was rebuilt and expanded by the Umayyad caliphs (the current building is the one that was established by the Umayyad caliphs).
Memory of Al-Aqsa Mosque arson:
On June 11, 1967 C.E., Israel demolished the Moroccan Quarter bordering the western wall of the Aqsa Mosque after a 24-hour respite given to the inhabitants to evacuate the area. About 650 Arab citizens were expelled from the Moroccan Quarter, which was established by Saladin's son Al-Malik Al-Afdhal in the thirteenth century C.E. as a Waqf (charitable trust) dedicated to the Moroccans. Another three thousand Arabs were expelled from Al-Sharaf Quarter (later known as the Jewish Quarter).
After the demolition of the Moroccan district, the Jews seized the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque (Al-Buraq Wall), which was falsely called the “Wailing Wall” and they expanded its yard.
Al-Aqsa Mosque was built by the Umayyad caliph Al-Waleed ibn ‘Abdul Malik between 90 and 96 A.H. (709-714 C.E.), as proved by papyrus documents that contain correspondence between the Umayyad governor of Egypt, Qurrah ibn Shareek (90-96 A.H. / 709-714 C.E.) and one of the rulers of Upper Egypt. This correspondence included a register of the names of workers who participated in building Al-Aqsa Mosque, which confirms that it was built by Caliph Al-Walid ibn ‘Abdul-Malik.
Al-Aqsa Mosque consists of a central large portico with a roof supported by marble pillars. It goes from north to south and is covered by a gable roof plated with colorful lead. It ends in the south in a large and awesome spherical dome supported by four stone pillars creating four corner triangles, which form the base that carries that dome’s neck.
The dome itself consists of two internal and external layers (like the Dome of the Rock). Its interior is decorated with a beautiful mosaic of faience, and its outer parts are covered with golden brass plates (like the Dome of the Rock), but it was recently replaced with lead plates as part of the renovation work carried out by The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Restoration Committee.
The western and eastern sides of the central portico are surrounded bythree parallel lower porticos. The western porticos are covered with crossed cupolas carried by the arches and stone pillars that were established during the Mamluki period.
The eastern section is covered with concrete roofs supported by stone arches and pillars, and they were rebuilt by the Supreme Islamic Council (1938-1943 C.E.).
The Aqsa Mosque has seven northern gates leading to the seven aisles. There is a portico in front of the northern façade built during the Ayyubi period from east to west. This portico consists of seven stone arches carried by stone pillars.
These seven gates were replaced with two other doors in the western and eastern sides of the Mosque in recent periods.
What happened on August 21, 1969 C.E.?
The Israeli authorities adopted an arbitrary policy regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque and the sacred city of Jerusalem. At the beginning of 1969 C.E., it demolished the Moroccan Quarter in the neighborhood of the Mosque in addition to many other mosques and Islamic schools established during the Umayyad caliphate.
Since the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 C.E., occupation authorities demolished all the ancient Islamic buildings around Al-Aqsa Mosque to erase all the Islamic landmarks of the city.
The Israeli criminal measures included building roads inside the Muslims’ graves near the Qudsi Haram. They dredged a number of the Muslims’ graveyards including the graveyard of Al-Rahmah and Al-Yousufiyya, in addition to seizing other locations in Jerusalem and turning them into Zionist military barracks.
The daily assaults by Jewish extremists against Al-Aqsa Mosque continued unabated. The Mosque faced a series of assaults and the last one was laying the foundation stone of the alleged Third Temple, which is no more than part of an organized plan that eventually aim at seizing the sacred sites.
One of the ventilating windows in the wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque was closed in August 1999 C.E. Of course, this is considered a dangerous violation and an attack on one of our greatest Islamic sanctuaries. This measure aims at giving the impression that Israel controls the religious sanctuaries, but this contradicts the principles of international law and the UN Security Council resolutions on the status of the occupied city of Jerusalem as well as articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In 1979 C.E., a group of 40 extremist Jews attempted to break into the mosque and yet they were all acquitted by an Israeli court. In January 27, 1982 C.E., an extremist group attempted to wire the mosque and detonate it to pave the way for the establishment of the Third Temple but the plan was uncovered and failed.
Likewise, on January 14, 1989 C.E., several extremist members of the Knesset broke into the mosque under heavy police protectionand related the so-called Muqaddas Tarahhum inside the Mosque. This provoked the Muslim Palestinians and made the president of the Islamic High Council in Jerusalem call for expelling the Knesset members, but the Israeli police enabled the Israeli delegation to complete the visit.
On January 7, 1989 C.E. thirty Jews belonging to the extremist Jewish Magush Ben Haim Movement broke into Aqsa Mosque following a religious celebration held by the Movement under the pretext of commemorating the unification of Jerusalem.
The most severe Israeli measure was the attempt of the Judaization of Jerusalem[NT1] through illegal methods including confiscating Palestinian lands and properties, in addition to the terrorist and suppressive measures against the Arab and Muslim residents to Judaize the city completely. They also bring the Jews from around the world to settle in Jerusalem. They even declared Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.
In line with the Israeli policies that aim at terrorizing and harassing Muslims, the Zionist colonists committed a massacre in 1994 C.E. against the unarmed Palestinians performing prayers inside the Ibrahimi Haram in Hebron, West Bank, killing tens, and wounding hundreds.
The memory of Al-Aqsa Mosque arson comes to confirm that Jerusalem with its sanctuaries will continue to preserve their Arab and Islamic identity regardless of the attempts of occupation authorities to change the landmarks of the sacred city by bringing thousands of the Jews to colonize it.
The UN Security Council confirmed in its decision issued in June 1980 C.E. that the principle of seizing lands by force is unacceptable and reiterated its opposition to the hostile acts Israel in the sacred city. In the same year, the council also condemned the annexation of Jerusalem and declaring it the capital city of Israel and demanding that all countries move their diplomatic missions outside the sacred city.
The unanimously approved statement of the UN Security Council in 1998 C.E. came to outlaw Israeli attempts to widen the city of Jerusalem confirming that Israel violates the decisions of international laws.
The Israeli Prime Minister and leader of Likud Party, Ariel Sharon, accompanied by an extremist religious group visited the mosque surrounded with armed bodyguards, and this provocative visit sparked the second Intifaadhah, which became known as Al-Aqsa Intifaadhah.
The Israelis did not consider these measures sufficient, but they also transformed a mosque near Nablus into a Jewish synagogue at the hands of some Jewish settlers. This crime is the latest addition to the history of the worst religious practices by the occupation forces against sacred sites such as Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, the Dome of the Rock Mosque, the Ibrahimi Haram in Hebron, the ‘Umar Mosque in Jerusalem and many other mosques in occupied Palestine.