بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Where to start when discussing how important and blessed Al Aqsa Sanctuary is? Here's a good place: Masjid Al Aqsa (meaning the whole Sanctuary as discussed earlier) is the ONLY masjid along with the Holy Ka'bah in Makkah to be mentioned BY NAME by Allah in the Quran. This occurs in the verse which I quoted in an earlier post:
“Holy is He who carried His servant by night from the Holy Masjid (in Makkah) to the further Masjid (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”. (Surah Al- Isra 17: 1)
The journey which this ayah is referring to is when the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) travelled miraculously from Makkah to Al Quds, and from Al Quds through the seven heavens to meet Allah. The journey itself will be covered in detail when we arrive to that point in history. There are two reasons for mentioning the ayah here.
Firstly, as I said at the beginning of this post, to show the great status of Al Quds as Masjid Al Aqsa was mentioned by name in the Quran. Secondly, when the disbelievers in Makkah heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) talking about his journey to Al Quds they mocked him and found the concept unbelievable. Even though the Prophet was able to answer questions of theirs which only someone who had been to Al Quds would have been able to answer, they simply refused to believe such a journey could be possible in the space of one night. For the Muslims though, both then and now, it is part of faith to believe that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) went on this journey by the qadr of Allah. Therefore Allah has connected Masjid Al Aqsa, and Al Quds with it, with a key tenet of Islamic belief; anyone who doesn’t believe the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) actually went to Al Quds is not a believer. For Allah to link a place with imaan (faith) in this way is a clear sign of its importance.