Saudi lawyer and journalist Osama Yamani is claiming, Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam is not located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In an article in the Saudi news outlet Okaz, Yamani claims that the mosque is actually located in Al Ju’ranah, near Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
“Jerusalem is not Al-Aqsa, which is not cited in the missions that Allah gave Muhammad and the caliphs. Similarly, Jerusalem is a city, and Al-Aqsa is a mosque,” he states.
Yamani backs up his argument with historic facts, such as the fifth caliph from the Umayyad dynasty, Abd al-Malik, building the Dome of the Rock in the year 691 CE. Al-Malak built the dome nine years after Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr rebelled and prevented local residents from fulfilling the obligation to make the haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
“At that stage, he changed the direction of prayer toward Jerusalem,” Yamani says, referring to al-Malik.
Yamani explains that “There are stories influenced by political considerations that served purposes of that time, and sometimes claims are made that they have nothing to do with faith or following religious dictates.”
According to some scholars, Yamani is right about al-Aqsa not being in Jerusalem. Of course he doesn’t mean the structure that is called the al-Aqsa Mosque and is on the Temple Mount. He is referring to the al-Aqsa Mosque that is mentioned in the Qur’an: ” Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from the al-Haram mosque [the Great Mosque of Mecca] to al-Aqsa mosque [“the farthest mosque”], whose surroundings we have blessed, to show him of our signs. Indeed, he is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (17:1).
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem had not yet been built when this verse is supposed to have been revealed to Muhammad. According to Islamic tradition, he died in 632, while al-Aqsa Mosque was built in 705. Either the Qur’an passage refers to a different “farthest mosque,” or the passage itself was written long after Muhammad is supposed to have died, or both. In any case, the standard interpretation of the Qur’anic passage, that it refers to Muhammad’s Night Journey to Jerusalem on a winged white horse, al-Buraq, is clearly false, and that whole story is legendary, despite the fact that it is the basis for the Islamic claim to Jerusalem as a holy city for Muslims.