In news- Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque courtyard was recently stormed by extremist settlers under the protection of Israeli forces.
About Al-Aqsa mosque-
- Originally built as a small prayer house, the mosque was reconstructed by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in 705 CE.
- It underwent renovations under various dynasties, including the Ottoman empire, the Supreme Muslim Council, and Jordan.
- In Arabic, “aqsa” translates as farthest, and is a reference to Islamic scripture and its account of the Prophet Muhammad traveling from Mecca to the mosque in one night to pray and then ascending to heaven.
- The mosque sits inside a 35-acre site known by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
- The site is part of the Old City of Jerusalem, sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.
- Though Jerusalem’s Old City is under Israeli control, the mosque has remained under the administration of the Jordanian and Palestinian-led Islamic Waqf since 1967.
- The Waqf is a religious trust that manages Islamic historical sites around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
- Jews and Christians are allowed to visit, but unlike Muslims (Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam), are prohibited from praying on the grounds under the status quo arrangement.
- For Jews, the Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as Har Habayit, is the holiest place because it was the site of two ancient temples.
- UNESCO has classified the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls as a World Heritage Site.