Islam’s Connection with Palestine

Syed Sharfuddin

Some people ask why Jerusalem is so important to Muslims, and to Palestinians. Should this city not be left to the Jews to rebuild their prophesised Temple of Solomon, since Muslims have Makkah and Madinah as the holiest shrines of Islam. Some brothers also ask where is Masjid Aqsa mentioned in the Quran and what is the significance of the Dome of the Rock in Islam.

Whether you are asked this question or not, you must tell your children that Masjid Haraam (Kaaba) and Masjid Aqsa are the only two mosques mentioned in the Quran by their name. There are also numerous indirect references to Palestine in the Quran.

We love Palestine because Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, travelled from Masjid Haraam in Makkah to Masjid Aqsa in Jerusalem, where he led the prayers of all other prophets who also gathered there. Then he ascended from the Dome of the Rock to the seven heavens to meet other prophets and see Allah’s wonders. Then the Prophet returned to his bed in Makkah all in a split of a second in one holy night. Reported in Bokhari Book 54 Hadith 429, and Book 58 Hadith 227.

The name of Jerusalem is synonymous with Bait al-Maqdis and Al Quds. The sanctity and holiness of this city distinguishes it from all other cities. Hundreds of Bani Israel prophets and companions of Prophet Mohammad are buried in Palestine. They sacrificed their lives to promote the message of peace and humanity and oppose injustice and Zulm. The chapter of martyrdom is not closed until this day. This city of Jerusalem is thus also known as the city of martyrs. The Bab ur Rahma Cemetery in Jerusalem is the third most blessed burial site in Islam after Jannat al Moalla in Makkah and Jannat al Baqee in Madinah. The Prophet’s great grandfather Hashem bin Abd Munaf is believed to have been buried in Gaza in a mosque that bears his name.

Sayid Abu Umamah narrated that the Prophet said: “A group from my Ummah will continue to help each other in [matters] of religion; they will prevail over their enemies except for hunger and [other such] difficulties, until the Day of Resurrection”. The companions asked: “Where will they be, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said: “In Jerusalem and around it”. Reported by Ahmad.

The largest international organisation of Islamic countries, OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) was founded in Saudi Arabia in September 1969, a month after an arson attack on Masjid Aqsa by an Australian extremist Jew in occupied Jerusalem. Since then, the OIC has taken a united stand on defending the integrity and independence of Al-Quds al Sharif, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. After performing Hajj or Umrah, it is the wish of every Muslim to visit Jerusalem and offer prayers inside Islam’s third holiest shrine.

From pre-historic times, Palestine has been inhabited by many races and nations. In biblical times, the inhabitants of Palestine included the tribes and subtribes of Edomites, Nabatean Arabs in the South, Kaderites in the North, Greeks, Phoenicians (the gentiles), Samaritans, Bani Israel (the Jews) and Amotites. Jerusalem belongs to all humanity. It is not the exclusive preserve of any one race or religion.

King Herod the Great was the ruler of Judea (Palestine) in 37 BC. He belonged to the tribe to Edomite Arabs. He ordered his security to arrest Isa bin Maryam when the Jews revolted and demanded that Isa bin Maryam be put to death for claiming to be a prophet in Jerusalem, and for offering a new interpretation of their Hebrew Bible. When Herod’s security found Isa bin Maryam, he was replaced by Allah by another man who was crucified. (Surah Al Nisa, Verse 157).

Palestine has been the land of the Prophets; peace be upon them all. In the Quran in Surah Al-Baqara Muslims are commanded to believe in all messengers of Allah, including those from the progeny of Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Israel and his children, and give them equal place and respect. Prophet Ibrahim is buried in the courtyard of Masjid Ibrahim in Hebron. Allah punished the nation of Prophet Lut in Palestine and saved His prophet. Prophet Dawood lived in Palestine and built a masjid here. Prophet Suleiman made Palestine the capital of his kingdom and ruled over the whole world. The mihrab/prayer place of Prophet Zakariyya was in the city of Jerusalem. The events related to these prophets which are mentioned in the Quran took place in the land of Palestine.

Surah Al Naml in the Quran mentions the story of the Ant and Prophet Suleiman in which an ant said to the rest of his ants: “O ants, get into your burrows in case Suleiman and his troops unwittingly crush you” (Surah Al Naml, Verse 18). This event happened in a valley in the city of Ashkelon in Palestine, which was later named Wadi al Naml.

During the time of Prophet Musa, an arrogant race of mighty people lived in the gated city of Palestine. They were called Amalek in the Hebrew Bible and Jabbareen in the Quran (Surah Al-Maeda, Verse 22). The other names given to them were Amaliqa, Canaanites, Philistines and Anakim. Prophet Musa told Bani Israel to enter the gates of this city and restore peace and harmony there, but they refused to go inside the city. They said: “Musa, there are fearsome people in this land. We will not go until they leave. If they leave then we will enter it” (Surah Al Maeda, Verse 22). Allah wanted this city to be free from shirk and oppression. For their disobedience Allah forbade the land of Palestine to Bani Israel for forty years. They wandered the earth aimlessly in punishment (Surah Al Maeda, Verse 26).

The Amalek had invaded Egypt and lived there for 500 years before it was liberated by the believers. Among them were Anakims who were physically overbearing, fearsome and powerful. They were descendants of a giant man Og bin Anak who is famous in Jewish folklore concerning the conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews. But history teaches the lesson that even a giant race will be defeated by the humble servants of God if they remain steadfast against oppression and merciless killing of women and children like the Zionists have done in Palestine for many decades, and more recently in Gaza.

In Surah Hajj Verse 40, Allah says: “those who have been driven unjustly from their homes only for saying our Lord is Allah, if God did not repel some people by means of others, many monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques where God’s name is invoked in abundance, would have been destroyed. Allah surely helps those who help His cause.” Allah always replaces the oppressors with His true servants. The land of Palestine has seen this happen many times in history.

In Surah Al Baqarah we learn about the story of Talut and Jalut (Goliath) and Talut’s triumph over Goliath, which happened in the land of Palestine. It is from this city that Gog and Magog will start fighting and rioting across the earth toward the end of time. Palestine is the land where everyone will be raised, resurrected, and judged by Allah. (Reported by Saiyda Meymuna, wife of the Prophet, as reported by Ibn Maja). It is also reported in Ahmad and Tirmidhi.

Many miracles took place in this land, including the blessed birth of Isa bin Maryam. Saiyda Maryam was at the extreme of her physical weakness when she shook the trunk of the palm tree where she had been driven by the pain of labour and ate its ripened dates in such a state. (Surah Maryam, Verse 25).

One of the signs of the Day of Judgement will be the return of Isa bin Maryam to the earth. He will return to Palestine as a follower of the Sharia of Prophet Muhammad, and he will liberate Jerusalem. Prophet Isa will kill Dajjal, the anti-Christ, at Bab Lud in the land of Palestine. Reported by Ahmad and Tirmidhi.

Palestine also has the honour of being the first Qibla of Muslims after the five prayers became obligatory, following the Isra and Meraj. After the Hijra, angel Jibreel directed our Prophet to turn his prayer direction from Masjid Aqsa (Jerusalem) to Masjid Haraam (Makkah). It is reported that this occurred while Asr prayer was in progress. The mosque in which this incident took place is called the Mosque of two Qiblas (Qiblatain). This mosque is in Madinah and is visited by thousands of Muslims daily.

Anas Ibn Malik narrated that the Prophet said: “A prayer offered in Masjid Haraam, Makkah has a reward of 100,000 prayers; in Masjid Nabi, Madinah it is equal to 50,000 prayers, and in Masjid Aqsa, Jerusalem it is equal to 5000 prayers”. Reported by Tirmidhi. There are also other Ahadith where the number is different. But all Ahadith show the significance of Masjid Aqsa as the third holiest mosque in Islam.

Zuhair ibn Muhammad narrated that the Prophet said: “Allah has blessed what lies between al-Arish in Egypt and the Euphrates and has made Palestine particularly holy”. Reported in Kanz al ‘Amaal.

As stated in the beginning of this writing, Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was brought here from Makkah to Bait al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) before he was taken to the heavens on the night of Asra and Meraj. All the Prophets prayed behind our Prophet who led the prayers. Thus, Palestine once again became the land of all the Prophets, including Prophet Muhammad.

Abu Dharr says that he asked the Messenger of Allah which was the first mosque built on earth? The Prophet replied: Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. Abu Dharr asked which one after that mosque? The Prophet said: Al-Aqsa Mosque (Bait al-Maqdis). Abu Dharr then asked how much time was there between the two of them? The Prophet said: “Forty years”, and added, “whenever you can, you should pray there.”

After the death of the Prophet, the first caliph Abu Bakr dealt with the wars of apostasy and false prophets. Despite the dire need of military resources and manpower to deal with these many battlefronts, it is also worth noticing that in his time the army prepared by the Prophet for the expedition of Tabuk to fight the Byzantine empire was still sent by Abu Bakr to liberate the land of Palestine.

In the golden era of Islam, the second caliph Umar, leaving aside other expeditions, solely focused on the liberation of Palestine from the Byzantines. He himself went from Madinah to Jerusalem in 637 to meet Patriarch Sophronius who had put the condition that that he will not surrender Jerusalem to the Rashidun army of Muslims but to caliph Umar. Caliph Umar signed a treaty of peace with Sophronius which defined the rights and privileges of the Byzantine Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Jerusalem. The site where Masjid Aqsa once stood was used as a garbage dump during the Byzantine rule. Caliph Umar cleared the site and restored the mosque and allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem. There is also a mosque in the name of Umar in Bethlehem just opposite the Church of the Holy Sculpture where Prophet Isa bin Maryam was reportedly born in a horse stable. This mosque is built on the site where caliph Umar offered prayers after the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslims. This highlights the contribution of the second caliph to restore the greatness of this city.

The re-conquest of this city by Salahudidn Ayyubi on 27 Rajab 583 AH on the night of Meraj by defeating the Crusaders is also a sign of the importance of this blessed city for the Muslims in which the followers of three Abrahamic faiths share their religious heritage and wish to worship freely without fear of loss of life or destruction of war.

Following the fall of the Ottoman empire and the end of Muslim rule in Palestine this blessed place has never been peaceful. The establishment of the Zionist state of Israel in 1949 and its expansionist agenda have made it even more difficult to keep Al Quds peaceful. Muslims all over the world pray for the liberation of Masjid Aqsa from Zionist occupation and for the return of peace to the blessed land of Palestine.

Additional Reading

Ali Olaibo, Gaza and Jabbareen: the land of Mighty Men, printyed in This Week in Palestine, No 307, November 2023

Firas Alkhateeb, Capture of Jerusalem: The Treaty Of Umar,

Tijen Horoz, 8 Facts we didn’t know about Masjid Aqsa, News of Muslim Hands April 2018.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.