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Al-Aqsa Mosque

The al-Aqsa Mosque was originally a small prayer house build by the Rashidun caliph Umar, but was rebuilt and expanded by the Ummayad caliph Abd al-Malik and finished by his son al-Walid in 705 CE. After an earthquake in 746, the mosque was completely destroyed and rebuilt by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 754, and again rebuilt by his successor al-Mahdi in 780. Another earthquake destroyed most of al-Aqsa in 1033, but two years later the Fatimid caliph Ali az-Zahir built another mosque, which has stood to the present-day. When the Crusaders, captured Jerusalem in 1099, they used the mosque as a palace and church, but Salah ad-din b. Ayyob restored its function as a mosque after its recapture. The Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottomans, the Supreme Muslim Council and Jordan undertook more renovations, repairs and additions in the later centuries. Today, the Old City is under Israeli control, but the mosque remains under the administration of the Palestinian-led Islamic waqf. Its name refers to a chapter of the Qur’an called “The Night Journey” in which it is said that Prophet Muhammad travelled from Mecca to “the farthest mosque”, and then up to Heaven on a flying horse called al-Buraq al-Sharif. “Farthest” as used in this context means the “farthest” as used in this context means the “farthest from Mecca”.

In August 21, 1969, a fire occurred inside al-Aqsa Mosque that gutted the southeastern wing of the mosque. Among other things the fire destroyed was Salah ad-dins’s Minbar. A tourist from Australia named Denis Michael Rohan a member of an evangelical Christian hoped by burning down al-Aqsa Mosque he would hasten the Second Coming of Jesus, making way for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.

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