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.
aqsa-side.jpg

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.

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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.