Al-Aqsa Mosque PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur
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Al-Aqsa Mosque
Muslim Prayer
The Dome of the Rock was finished in 691 AD. In 711, the Caliph al-Walid added the al-Aqsa Mosque on the platform's southern end. This building has frequently suffered damage in earthquakes (twice in its first sixty years, most recently in 1927 and 1937): unlike its bedrock'd father on the peak, it depends on Herod's arches.

After leaving our shoes (see Logistics), we enter through the porch (its three middle bays are Crusader). We find ourselves in a great hall, whose parts derive from different times. Little attempt has been made to preserve the unity of detail we saw in the Dome. There are large white pillars of a purer marble than any in the land. They hail from Carrara, a gift of Mussolini. (He meant them perhaps as a gesture of reconciliation after his treatment of the Muslims in Libya.) On the west side we do not see them, for there the earthquakes did not damage the mosque.


The painted wooden roof was a gift of Egypt's King Farouk. On the southern end is the mihrab , which goes back to Saladin. (He also gave a pulpit (minbar) carved out of cedar wood, which a crazed Australian burned in 1969, hoping thus to bring the Messiah.) The great arch before the mihrab is the oldest part of the current building: it dates to repairs that followed the earthquake of 1033.

The overall impression is one of immense solemnity, as if the desert were incorporated in a building. The absence of seats plays a part in this impression: a seat would merely obstruct the Muslim in prayer.

Logistics for a visit.