There is a difference between the Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Zionists are now trying to deceive Muslims by claiming that there is no difference between the two mosques (i.e. they are all the same) with the aim of dissuading Muslims’ attention from the real fact and silencing them from claiming any right to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) was the first of the two qiblahs (prayer direction), and is one of the three mosques to which people may travel for the purpose of worship. It is said that it was built by Sulayman (Solomon, peace be upon him), as stated in Sunan an-Nasa’i and classed as authentic by al-Albani. And it is also said that it existed before Sulayman (peace be upon him) and that Sulayman rebuilt it; this is based on the hadith reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, which mosque was built on earth first?’ He said, ‘Al-Masjid Al-Haram [in Makkah].’ I said, ‘Then which?’ He said, ‘Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.’ I said, ‘How much time was there between them?’ He said, ‘Forty years. So wherever you are when the time for prayer comes, pray, for that is the best thing to do.’”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was taken on the Night Journey (isra’) to Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), where he led the Prophets in prayer in this blessed mosque. Allah says: [Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Haram) to the farthest Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Aqsa), whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).] (Al-Israa’ 17:1)
The Dome of the Rock was built by the caliph `Abd Al-Malik ibn Marwan in 72 AH. It is mentioned in Al-Mawsu`ah al-Filastiniyyah (4/203): “The name Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa was historically applied to the entire sanctuary (Al-Haram Al-Sharif) and the buildings in it, the most important of which is the Dome of the Rock which was built by `Abd Al-Malik ibn Marwan in 72 AH/691 CE, which is regarded as one of the greatest Islamic historical buildings. But today the name is applied to the great mosque which is situated in the southern part of the sanctuary plateau.”
It also says in al-Mawsu`ah (3/23): “The Dome of the Rock is situated in the middle of the plateau of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, which is in the southeastern part of the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). It is a spacious rectangular plateau which measures 480 meters from north to south, and 300 meters from east to west. This plateau occupies approximately one-fifth of the area of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The mosque which is the place of prayer is not the Dome of the Rock, but because pictures of the Dome are so widespread, many Muslims think when they see it that this is the mosque. This is not in fact the case. The Mosque is situated in the southern portion of the plateau, and the Dome is built on the raised rock that is situated in the middle of the plateau.”
We have already seen above that the name of the mosque was historically applied to the whole plateau. The Muslims’ fondness for the picture of the Dome may be because of the beauty of this building, but this does not excuse them from the resulting mistake of not distinguishing between the Mosque and the buildings that surround it.
This may be one of the plots and tricks of the Jews in order to give importance to the Rock so that they can fulfill their desire to build the so-called Temple of Solomon on the ruins of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. This is by making the Muslims think that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is the Dome of the Rock, so that if the Jews start to destroy Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Muslims denounce them for that, they will tell them, “Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is fine,” and will show them a picture of the Dome of the Rock. Thus they will achieve their aims and be safe from the Muslims’ criticism.
By Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid**