Tag Archives: Masjid

The Fiqh of Masjid & Musalla

[Mufti Abdur Rahmaan Ibn Yusuf Mangera]

In the name of Allah, the Inspirer of truth

What exactly is a masjid? Is there a difference between a masjid, musalla,and jamāt khāna, etc? These are questions which need detailed discussion.

Nowadays, in the west, many Islamic Centers being managed include, among other things, a prayer hall, musallā, or jamāt khāna. Some communities rent an industrial unit, a store front, a house, or an apartment in which members of the Muslim community gather to perform congregational prayer (and in many cases social activities). Many communities actually have purchased property which they consider their masjid.

Which of the above can technically be considered a masjid, and what are the related rulings?

There is a difference between a masjid and a  musallā  (or jamāt khāna).
A musalla (or jamāt khāna ) literally means a place where prayer is performed or where congregations are held, or worded differently, any temporary place in which worshippers congregate to perform their prayers. A musalla is also a place that has not been made an endowment or not yet intended to become a permanent masjid  until the Last Day. In many cases, it is a temporary place from which the community will transfer once they find a more suitable, convenient, or permanent location. Though Muslims today commonly refer to their “musallā” as their “masjid,” which the literal meaning of masjid (a place where the prostration is made) allows, a musallā cannot technically be considered a legal [shar‘i ] masjid. Likewise the reward for prayer in a musallā is not the same as in a proper masjid.

The Masjid

The masjid is a sanctified area, in which the rewards of prayers in congregation increase 25 to 27 times and where the mercy of Allah descends. It is considered the best of places by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) relates:

Masjids are the houses of Allah on the earth. They shine up to the inhabitants of the heavens just as the stars in the sky shine down to the inhabitants of the earth (Tabarānī ).

A true masjid, in the legal sense, is a place that has been permanently dedicated to Allah for the sake of prayer, recitation, and His remembrance. Any piece of land that has been dedicated permanently for the sake of congregational prayers will also become a proper masjid. The great Hanafī scholar of Egypt ‘Allāma Tahtāwī states:

Know that for it [piece of land] to be considered a masjid, a building [or structure] is not necessary. Tahtāwi, Kitāb al-Waqf, Ahkām al-masjid and Qādī Khān 4:712).

masjid is normally made into a waqf or endowment (sometimes difficult to establish depending on the legal connotations of endowment in some countries). However, once a masjid is erected, it will always be a masjid and the property of Allah. It cannot return to being the property of any person or community even those who may have paid for establishing it. ‘Allāma Haskafī writes,

If the inhabitants surrounding the masjid wither away and the masjid becomes desolate, it will still remain a masjid according to Imam Abū Hanīfa and Imam Abū Yūsuf until the Last Day, and the fatwā is on this opinion (Hāwī al-Qudsī )” (al-Durr al-Mukhtār 3:371).

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,

All the earth will disappear on the Day of Judgment with the exception of the masjids for they will join with one another (Suyūtī, Jāmi’ al-Shaghīr ).

Designation of a Masjid

masjid (to become a masjid ) must be formally designated by the committee or persons in charge. They do this by defining the area it will occupy and its boundaries. Along with this they can designate other adjoining areas to be used as bathrooms, lobby, storage, etc. The latter however will be considered the auxiliary areas of the masjid and, though part of the endowment, will not classify as “masjid”  area that was previously defined by the committee. Therefore, it is possible, for example, to designate only the front half of a large hall (i.e. the first 10 rows) as the“masjid,”  while the rest of the hall is classified as a musalla. Once the front half has been designated as such, then that part, both above and below it, becomes a shar‘i masjid . This means that neither above it nor below it on any floor can be used for anything but as a masjid. Hence, all rulings that apply to a masjid will now apply to the exact same area directly below it on each of the lower floors (including the basement); and likewise on all floors above it. Constructing toilets, bathrooms, or holding any non-suitable activities above or below the “masjid” area will also be impermissible. However, it is permissible to have toilets or bathrooms constructed out of the boundary of the designated  masjid area on any of the floors, since those areas will be considered the auxiliary area of the masjid and not technically the masjid  itself. ‘Allāma Haskafī writes in his well-accepted text al-Durr al-Mukhtār:

“It is prohibitively disliked to have sexual intercourse above the masjid. Likewise it is disliked to urinate or defecate above it because it is a masjid to the peaks of the heavens (Ibn ‘ Ābidīn adds, “Likewise to the recesses of the earth below”) … it is disliked to enter any impurity into it.… [However] these are not disliked above a room which has been just set aside as a masjid  [in a person’s home] nor in the room itself, since that is not a shar’i masjid .… It is permitted for those in a seminally defiled state or menstruating women to enter into it [i.e. a musalla or place especially prepared for ‘Id or funeral prayer] just as is permitted into the extended yard of the  masjid [i.e. the overflow area].… (al-Durr al-Mukhtār with Radd al-Muhtār 1:441-442).

Hence, no area of the actual masjid prayer area can be excluded from the masjid once designated as a masjid. However, before the plans are finalized and the area is designated a masjid, portions can be excluded from any of the floors above or below where the masjid will be, to be used for something else that is related to the masjid, for instance, a storage area, office for the imām, a basement for storing masjid amenities, a shop to bring in income for the masjid, etc. Ibn ‘ Ābidīn writes in his Radd al-Muhtār,

If they build a room above it for the imam then there is nothing wrong with that, because that is part of the welfare of the masjid. However, once the construction [designation] of themasjid is completed then they want to add a room, it will be prohibited [to change the designated masjid area and add a room for something else in it]. If the committee states that we had intended to do such, their statement will not be upheld [in court] (Radd al-Muhtār 3:371).

Likewise the Egyptian jurist Ibn Nujaym writes,

It states in the Mujtaba that it is not permitted for the guardian of the masjid to build shops in the masjid or in its courtyard [i.e. the courtyard in which salats are performed during summer in hot countries – also known as the external masjid] (al-Bahr al-Rā’iq 5:249).

Storage Areas and Water Reservoir Above or Below a Masjid

masjid can have a storage area above or below the actual prayer hall. The storage space below the prayer hall however must be used solely for the amenities of the masjid and must have been designated as such in the masjid’s design phase. Likewise, it would be permitted to have constructed a water reservoir underneath the masjid (as in some Muslim countries). It states in theal-Durr al-Mukhtār,

If they make a basement beneath the masjid  for its welfare [however, ‘Allāma Ibn ‘ Ābidīn adds here that this should be of limited area], it would be permissible just as is in the Masjid in Jerusalem (al-Durr al-Mukhtār ma’a ‘l-Radd  al-Muhtār 3:370).

A Residence or Bathrooms Above or Below a Masjid

Although it is permissible to allocate certain parts of the masjid as a room for the imam and other uses from the original plan, bathrooms or a complete apartment for the imam should not be planned directly above the actual masjid area, even during the masjid’s initial design phase, since it is impermissible to have sexual relations, relieve oneself, etc., above or below a masjid . In any case, adding a residence or office to the existing masjid area will not be permissible after the masjid area is designated. ‘Allāma Ibn ‘ Ābidīn writes,

“It remains [to be ruled], whether it would be permissible if the person making the endowment designates lavatories [ bayt li l-khalā’ ] to be directly beneath the masjid, as is the case in Masjid Mahallat al-Shahm in Damascus. I have not seen a specific ruling on this. Yes, it states in the Chapter of Endowments [of al-Durr al-Mukhtar ] ‘ If they make a basement beneath the masjid for its welfare it would be permissible’ so ponder” (Radd al-Muhtar 1:441).

Ibn ‘Abidin however only mentions this analogy between a storage basement and bathrooms in passing, stating that it is an issue in need of further deliberation. It is not based on any strong analogy.

Islamic Centers and Musallas Today

In the case of large Islamic centers today, which include a prayer hall, the prayer hall area could be considered the shar‘ī masjid, if it has been intended and designated as such. However, the adjacent rooms, such as the lobby, dining hall, children’s room, gymnasium, or offices would be considered as supplementary or extensions of the masjid and hence, not part of the shar‘ī masjid area, even though they would be part if the endowment [waqf ] (i.e. not returnable to any one’s ownership), but the rulings would be different for the two as we will highlight below.

Women in Menstruation

A menstruating women or one who is experiencing post natal bleeding or a person in a seminally defiled state is prohibited from entering into a masjid. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

I do not make the masjid lawful for the menstruating women or the one experiencing post natal bleeding (Abū Dāwād, Ibn Māja, Tabarānī, Zayla‘ī has considered it sound [hasan] 1:193-194).

Young Children in the Masjid

It is unlawful [haraam] to bring in infants or young children into the masjid if there is a possibility of them polluting the area of the masjid . If they are in diapers and less likely to pollute any part of the masjid, it will still be somewhat disliked (makruh tanzihan) to bring them as they could be carrying filth in their diapers (Radd al-Muhtar ’ala ‘l-Durr  1:441, Al-Ashbah wa ‘l-Naza’ir, al-Qawl fi Ahkam al-Masjid  407). The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said.

Keep your infants and the insane away from your masjids (Sunan Ibn Maja, babu ma yukrahu fi ‘l-masjid ).

Sleeping & Eating in the Masjid

It is disliked to sleep or eat in a masjid without the intention of i’tikāf or unless one is a traveler (al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Nazā’ir 407)

Congregation for Five Daily Prayers in the Masjid is a Communal Obligation

A congregation for the five daily prayers have to be established in amasjid otherwise the local inhabitants would be sinful for negligence, since it is a wājib to perform the congregational prayers for the locals in the masjid. ‘Allāma Ibn ‘ Ābidin writes regarding tarāwīh prayer which is a confirmed sunna and not wājib:

The apparent purport of their [jurists] statement is that it is a communal sunna to perform it [tarāwīh] in congregation in the masjid, to the extent that if they performed it in congregation in their homes, and no congregation took place in the masjid, they would all be sinful (Radd al-Muhtār 1:473).

Hence, if this is the case for a confirmed sunna congregation, it would be more binding to have a congregation for every obligatory prayers in each locality. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,

There is no salāt for the neighbor of themasjid except in the masjid (Dāraqutnī, Hākim from Kashf al-Khafā’).

Conversation in the Masjid

It is likewise disliked [makrūh] for one to speak about worldly affairs in the masjid, ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) had designated a special place outside the masjid where people could go and talk.  Ibn ‘Abidin writes,

(It is disliked to speak in the masjid) this is regarding that talk which is of [a] permissible nature, [and] not regarding other than that which would warrant much greater sin (i.e. if one were to speak of it in the masjid) (Radd al- Muhtār 5:269).

The Musallā or Temporary Place of Prayer

All the above restrictions (i.e. that it is disliked to speak of worldly matters in the masjid, etc.) do not technically apply to a musallā  since it is a temporary place for worship. Hence, it can have apartments, bathrooms, etc., above or below it; or itself even turned into such (i.e. an apartment), once it is no longer used as a musallā. However, it is recommended to treat it as a masjid, since it is being used for similar purposes.

A third floor musallā within an industrial complex, which has other activities and businesses operating on the other floors (basement included), cannot be considered a shar‘ī masjid, but rather comes within the definition of a musallā. ‘Allāma Haskafī writes,

If the basement was designated for any other use [i.e. not for the masjid ] or he [the owner] made a room above it and faced the door of the masjid to the street [meaning he made it separate], then it cannot be a masjid. Hence he may sell it… [if he wishes, since it does not become an endowment] the same as if he had made [a portion from] the middle of his home into a masjid, and permitted for the adhān to be called therein – it would not become a masjid.

‘Allāma Ibn ‘ Ābidīn comments on this by saying:

The reason for the place not being a masjid is because the additional rooms are not designated for the welfare of the masjid. This is explicitly mentioned in the Is āf , where it says, “If the basement or the floor above it is endowed for the benefit of the masjid or they were properly endowed for that then it would become a masjid  (Shurunbulāliyya ). It states in al-Bahr [al-Rā’iq] that the summary of this [issue] is that it is a condition for it being considered a masjid that the lower and upper floors need to [also] be a masjid, so that the rights [and ownership] of people is waived from it, as Allah says ‘And verily the masjids are for Allah…’” (Radd al-Muhtār 3:370).

Although similar laws should be observed in a musalla as in a masjid, since it is emulating a masjid, it is not legally necessary. Therefore:

It would be permissible for menstruating women to enter into a musalla to attend classes or lectures. Performing prayer therein would not hold the same reward as praying in a masjid although it would be more than in the home. A hadīth related by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī from ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āas states that the reward for a congregation with one’s family members (aside from in a masjid) holds 15 times the reward of praying alone, whereas praying it in the congregation in the masjid  holds twenty five times the reward. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī concludes that the 25 times extra reward is confined to performing it in congregation in the masjid and not in a congregation performed at home. See Fath al-Bārī 106, Mirqāt al-mafātīh 3:145, and al-Bahr al-rā’iq 1:346 It would be permissible to eat or sleep in a musalla without having the intention of i‘tikāf, which is necessary in the masjid for one to eat or sleep.One can also perform Tahiyyat al-Masjid in a musalla.

A useful setup for women’s prayer could be that there be two room: one connected to the back of the men’s prayer area, which could be intended as being included in the shar’i masjid; and another room behind the first room, which could be a musalla or a multi purpose room for menstruating women or women with children to stay in.

Wassalam

The Ruling Regarding Women Attending the Masjid

By Mufti Ehzaz Ajmeri

At the outset, it is important to point out the place of women in an Islamic society. Allah has created mankind and He alone knows what is best for mankind. In today’s time people have raised the slogans of women’s rights and gender equality. These slogans might seem true to those who see the role of women as same as men. In Islam, our understanding is that Allah has created men and women differently and both have different roles which are complimentary to each other. Allah has kept it in the nature of man to be brave, bold, and take responsibility over the family’s affairs while it is in the nature of women to have modesty, gentleness, and softness. Shari’ah has stipulated the roles for each according to their nature. Men are responsible for earning an income, providing shelter, and security for his family. Shari’ah understands the temperament of women and caters for it. Therefore, it is not required from her to leave her house and step into this immodest world to earn her own living or provide shelter for herself. At the same time, Shari’ah does not prevent women from earning her own income, on condition that no laws of Shari’ah are violated.

It is clear from this that it is a general rule to remain in the confines of her home based on the feminine nature of women. Shari’ah has also considered circumstances based on need and necessity.

In view of the fitnah and immoralities of the time, a woman should not attend the masjid. Shari’ah has not made it compulsory upon her to perform salah with congregation. She could perform salah by herself. There is no compelling need for her to attend the masjid. There is no need to bend this rule as in the case of a woman being put in an unwilling situation to earn an income.

In the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) women had permission to perform their salah at the masjid, but the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) also expressed that it is better for women to perform salah at home instead of the masjid.

عن عمته أم حميد امرأة أبى حميد الساعدى أنها جاءت إلى النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالت يا رسول الله إنى أحب الصلاة معك قال قد علمت أنك تحبين الصلاة معى وصلاتك فى بيتك خير لك من صلاتك فى حجرتك وصلاتك فى حجرتك خير من صلاتك فى دارك وصلاتك فى دارك خير لك من صلاتك فى مسجد قومك وصلاتك فى مسجد قومك خير لك من صلاتك فى مسجدى قال فأمرت فبنى لها مسجد فى أقصى شىء من بيتها وأظلمه فكانت تصلى فيه حتى لقيت الله عز وجل (مسند احمد)

It was narrated from Umm Humayd (radhiyallahu anha), the wife of Abu Humayd al-Sa’idi (radhiyallahu anhu), that she came to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I love to pray with you.” He replied, “I know that you love to pray with me. However, your prayer in your storage room is better than your prayer in your bedroom; your prayer in your bedroom is better than your prayer in your courtyard; your prayer in your courtyard is better than your prayer in the mosque of your people; and your prayer in the mosque of your people is better than your prayer in my mosque.” [The sub-narrator] said, “She requested that a prayer area be built for her in the deepest and darkest part of her house, and she prayed therein until she met Allah Most High.” (Musnad Ahmad, 6:371)

There is no doubt that in the era of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) women were permitted to come to the masjid to perform their salah. This was due to the fact that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was alive and would daily teach new injunctions of Shari’ah. The situation changed after the demise of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) states:

عن عمرة بنت عبد الرحمن أنها سمعت عائشة زوج النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم تقول لو أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رأى ما أحدث النساء لمنعهن المسجد كما منعت نساء بنى إسرائيل قال فقلت لعمرة أنساء بنى إسرائيل منعن المسجد قالت نعم (صحيح مسلم)

‘Amrah bint ‘Abd al-Rahman narrates that she heard A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) the wife of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say, “If Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) were to see the condition of the women (of today), he would have verily prevented them from coming to the masjid how the Israelite women were preventing from coming to their place of worship. The narrators say, “I asked ‘Amrah, were the Israelite women prevented form coming to the masjid?” She replied, “Yes”. (Sahih al-Muslim, 4:895)

More than 1400 years have passed by and the fitnas have increased. Immodesty, intermingling of the sexes, crime, etc are prevalent in our societies.

It is not necessary for women to perform her salah in the masjid, but it is wajib to abstain from fitna. In order to abstain from fitna, it will be makruh for women to go to the masjid, whether it be for the daily the salah, Jumu’ah, ‘Id, talim, or to listen to a lecture.
_(AlDurr al-Mukhtar, 1:566)

( ويكره حضورهن الجماعة ) ولو لجمعة وعيد ووعظ ( مطلقا ) ولو عجوزا ليلا ( على المذهب ) المفتى به لفساد الزمان ، – الدر المختار

If a woman has to go the masjid for a genuine reason, e.g. the family is out on the road and need to perform salah, then it will not be makruh (prohibitively disliked) for her to perform salah in the masjid, as this was done out of necessity.

A woman can perform salah at home without any decrease in the rewards. In fact, as stated above, it is more virtuous to perform at home. If it was possible for women to acquire knowledge at home without leaving her house on the same level as the university, then the analogy would have been correct. Nevertheless, if she does not adopt Shari’i purdah and there is a great risk offitna, then it will not be permissible for her to go to university, shopping centers, and other places as well.
_(Fatawa Rahimiyyah, 6:151)

And Allah knows best.

Clearing the Confusion regarding the Location of Masjid Al Aqsa

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We occasionally get asked why we show the image of the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as Sukhra) when we are discussing or promoting the issue of Masjid al-Aqsa. It is asserted that this causes confusion in people’s minds about what Masjid al-Aqsa actually refers to. This response intends to help resolve the confusion:

Q. What is Masjid Al Aqsa??

A. There is a common misconception that Masjid Al Aqsa refers specifically to the black/grey domed masjid within the Al Aqsa Sanctuary, however this is incorrect. Allah (swt) reminds us in the Holy Qur’an that He has blessed the land for us therefore according to Islamic teachings,
ALL the buildings within al-Aqsa Sanctuary and the entirety of the land are sacred right down to every single grain of sand within it and when we refer to ‘Masjid al-Aqsa’ it is not to any of the specific buildings upon the land, but rather, the land itself upon which the Dome of the Rock and the black/grey domed masjid stand.

Thus, references to the al-Aqsa Sanctuary/Masjid al-Aqsa are interchangeable terms, and neither refers to the grey/black domed building within the land which is routinely referred to as Masjid al-Aqsa but should be Masallah al-Aqsa (Qibly). It is this common usage of terms that has confused people.

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There are 44 buildings within the Al Aqsa Sanctuary, including the black/grey domed masjid and the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as Sukhra). These buildings have historic significance for Muslims, however, they were built some time after the passing of the beloved Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam).

Evidence from the Qur’an

Our love and dedication to the heritage of Masjid al-Aqsa is inspired by verses of the Holy Qur’an, from numerous ahadith and historical events that took place there.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Limitless is He (Allah) Who took His servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Masjid (in Makkah) to al-Aqsa Masjid (in Jerusalem), whose precincts We have blessed, in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who hears and sees (all things).
[Al-Isra 17:1]

The relevant text in the passage is “Whose precincts We have blessed” . It is clear from this verse that Allah (swt) has blessed the land of Masjid al-Aqsa.

Understanding the term ‘Blessed Land’

“Blessed land” under the Islamic ethos means land associated with barakah –land Allah (swt) has endowed spiritual and physical blessings from which all of humanity can derive benefit. The barakah also extends to the people who reside within this land, on condition that they confirm to the commands of Allah (swt), i.e., practice Islam.

The Boundaries of the Blessed Land

The boundaries of this “blessed land” are not clear and there are differences of opinion about its exact extent. Some classical Islamic scholars of the Qur’an and a hadith including Ibn Kathir, al-Qurtubi and Ibn al-Jawzi consider the whole area of al-Sham (modern day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine) as blessed. Other interpreters believe that the blessed land is contiguous from the Hijaz (Saudi Arabia) through al-Sham to Egypt. A further, and maybe a more logical opinion, is that within the area of the modern Middle East, there are pockets of “blessed land” like the compound of al-Aqsa Sanctuary, the Prophet’s (saw) Masjid in Madinah and the Holy Masjid in Makkah. However, in all the opinions on the extent of the “blessed land”, al-Aqsa Sanctuary is included.
The city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) now extends over a 45 square kilometre area. Within al-Quds, there is the ‘old city’ where major historical events took place and within the old city on the southeast corner is the area referred to as al-Haram al-Sharif or al-Aqsa Sanctuary.

Al-Aqsa Sanctuary covers an area of approximately 35 acres and within this area, at the southern end, is the black/grey domed Masjid the Masallah al-Aqsa (Qibly); in the centre lies the golden domed Masjid, Qubbat al-Sakhrah (Dome of the Rock) and there are within al-Aqsa Sanctuary 42 other monuments and buildings. It has become common practice to refer to the whole area simply as al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) and the black domed Masjid as ‘Masjid al-Aqsa’.

Who constructed or commissioned the buildings within the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary?

Masjid al-Aqsa

When the first Caliph ‘Umar (ra) entered al-Quds (Jerusalem) he requested first to be taken to al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary). When he arrived there, he was laden with sorrow to see that the Romans had been using the Holy Sanctuary as a rubbish tip. He immediately began clearing of the site, and once cleared, he ordered the construction of a Masjid at the southern end of the sanctuary. This was originally a wooden structure and was later re-built as a solid structure by ‘Abd al-Malik’s son al-Walid (Caliph 705-715). Today, the black dome of Masallah al-Aqsa (Qibly) stands there.

Qubbat al-Sakhrah (Dome of the Rock)

The Umayyad Caliph, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan commissioned the building of the Qubbat al-Sakhr
ah (Dome of the Rock) in 72-73 AH (691-692). The reason for building this architectural wonder of the world has drawn many hypotheses. However, to most Muslims it is logical for such an endeavour of magnificence to have taken place in al-Quds (Jerusalem). As it is the site of the most miraculous event in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) – al-Isra wa al-Mi‘raj –
coupled with the many ahadith exalting the virtues of al-Aqsa Sanctuary and the fact that it is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. ‘Abd al-Malik, himself a renowned jurist, being aware of all these great virtues, decided to commemorate the Islamic heritage of the area, and undertook the grand project of building the magnificent dome over the rock.

In Conclusion

It is extremely important to appreciate that it is the land of al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) that is the most precious and blessed. When the Holy Qur’an (in Surah al-Isra’) refers to Masjid al-Aqsa (meaning a place of prostration), it is this land of al-Haram al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Sanctuary) that is implied and not any of the buildings. Therefore, all the buildings that stand within the al-Aqsa Sanctuary are all of equal worth and importance, including the black domed Masallah al-Aqsa (Qibly) and golden Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah), however, one must understand it is the land that is Holy and Blessed and not the bricks and mortar.

Source: http://www.islam21c.com/campaigns/14559/