UAE and Jordan stress importance of immediate re-opening of Al Aqsa Mosque for worshippers

Jul 24, 2017 12:36 IST

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan in July 2017 called for immediate re-opening of Al Aqsa Mosque in Israel for worshipers.

Al Aqsa Mosque is one of the holy sites for Muslims located in the old city of Jerusalem in Israel. It is revered both by the Muslims and the Jews.

UAE and Jordan stress importance of immediate re-opening of Al Aqsa Mosque for worshippers

What is the issue?

Israel and Palestinians are close to a showdown over Tel Aviv’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrance of the Mosque.

Israel’s move follows a shooting incident at the site on 14 July 2017, killing five people including two Israeli police officials. Israel subsequently closed the site for Friday prayers and reopened it the next Sunday with new measures of control, including metal detectors and additional cameras, at the compound's entrances.

The violence came after Israeli officials banned men under the age of 50 from entering Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. The military said it had imposed the ban for security reasons after Palestinians were angered by the introduction of metal detectors at the shrine.

Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound until Israel removes the new measures, which are being seen as the latest move by Israel to impose control and Judaise the city.

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About Al Aqsa mosque

Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The silver-domed mosque inside a 35-acre compound is referred to as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) by Muslims, and as Temple Mount by Jews.

Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey. Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when God directed him to turn towards the Kaaba.

On the other hand, Jews believe the compound is where the Biblical Jewish temples once stood, but Jewish law and the Israeli Rabbinate forbid Jews from entering the compound and praying there.

The mosque was originally a small prayer house built by Umar the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, but was rebuilt and expanded by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik and finished by his son al-Walid in 705 CE.

The mosque was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 746 and rebuilt by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 754. His successor al-Mahdi rebuilt it again in 780.

Another earthquake destroyed most of al-Aqsa in 1033, but two years later the Fatimid caliph Ali az-Zahir built another mosque which has stood to the present day.

The site has also been designated a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.

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