In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1-Allah has described Jerusalem in the Qur’an as being blessed.
2-Allah has described Jerusalem as being holy.
3-In al-Quds there is al-Masjid al-Aqsa, and one prayer there is equivalent to two hundred and fifty prayers elsewhere.
4-The one-eyed Dajjal (“Antichrist”) will not enter Jerusalem.
5-The Dajjal will be killed close to al-Quds.
6- The Messenger (peace be upon him) was taken to Bayt al-Maqdis on his Night Journey (al-Isra’) from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa.
7- It (al-Quds) was the first qiblah of the Muslims
8- Jerusalem is the place where revelation came down, and it is the homeland of the Prophets.
9- Jerusalem is one of the mosques to which people may travel.
Answering this question, Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi lecturer and author, said:
With regard to the importance of Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), you should know – may Allah bless you –that the virtues of Bayt al-Maqdis are many:
1- Allah has described it in the Qur’an as being blessed. He said, “Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), the neighborhood whereof We have blessed…” (Al-Isra’ 17:1)
Al-Quds is part of the neighborhood surrounding the mosque and hence it is blessed.
2- Allah has described it as being holy, as He says, “[Moses said:] O my people! Enter the holy land (Palestine) which Allah has assigned to you…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:21)
3- In Al-Quds there is al-Masjid al-Aqsa, and one prayer there is equivalent to two hundred and fifty prayers elsewhere.
It was reported that Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: we were discussing, in the presence of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which of them was more virtuous, the mosque of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) or Bayt al-Maqdis. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: One prayer in my mosque is better than four prayers there, but it is still a good place of prayer. Soon there will come a time when if a man has a spot of land as big as his horse’s rope from which he can see Bayt al-Maqdis, that will be better for him than the whole world. (Al-Hakim and Adh-Dhahabi)
One prayer in al-Masjid al-Nabawi is equivalent to one thousand prayers elsewhere, so one prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqsa is equivalent to two hundred and fifty prayers elsewhere.
With regard to the famous hadith which says that prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqsa is equivalent to five hundred prayers elsewhere, this is da’eef (weak).
4- The one-eyed Dajjal (“Antichrist”) will not enter it, because of the hadith, “He will prevail over all the earth, apart from al-Haram [in Makkah] and Bayt al-Maqdis.” (Ahmad)
5- The Dajjal will be killed close to al-Quds. He will be killed by the Messiah `Isa ibn Maryam (peace be upon him), as was stated in the hadith: “The son of Maryam will kill the Dajjal at the gates of Ludd.” (Muslim) Ludd (Lod) is a place near Bayt al-Maqdis.
6- The Messenger (peace be upon him) was taken to Bayt al-Maqdis on his Night Journey (al-Isra’) from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa. Allah says: “Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem)…” (Al-Isra’ 17:1)
7- It (al-Quds) was the first qiblah of the Muslims, as was reported by al-Bara’ (may Allah be pleased with him): the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prayed in the direction of Bayt al-Maqdis for sixteen or seventeen months. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
8- It is the place where revelation came down, and it is the homeland of the Prophets. This is well known.
9- It is one of the mosques to which people may travel.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No journey should be made except to three mosques, al-Masjid al-Haram, Masjid al-Rasul (peace be upon him) and Masjid al-Aqsa.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
10- The Messenger (peace be upon him) led the Prophets in one prayer in al-Aqsa, as reported in the lengthy hadith: “… Then the time for prayer came, and I led them in prayer.” (Muslim)
It is not permissible to travel to any spot on earth for the purpose of worshipping there, except these three mosques.
The fact that Ya`qub (peace be upon him) built al-Masjid al-Aqsa does not mean that the Jews have more right to the mosque than the Muslims, because Ya`qub was a monotheist and the Jews are polytheists.
The fact that their father Ya`qub built the mosque does not mean that it belongs to them. He built it for the monotheists to worship in it, even if they were not his children, and he did not allow the polytheists to enter it, even if they are his children, because the call of the Prophets has nothing to do with race; it is based on taqwa (piety, awareness of Allah).
Your saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) led the previous Prophets in prayer to signify the unity of the message and all divine revelations is correct from the point of view of the origin of the religion and belief of the Prophets.
All of the Prophets received their Message from one source, which was the revelation, and they all had the same belief, which was the belief in tawhid (absolute unity of Allah) and the worship of Allah Alone, even though there were differences in the details of their laws.
This was confirmed by our Prophet (peace Allah be upon him) when he said: “I am the closest of mankind to `Isa ibn Maryam in this world and in the Hereafter. The Prophets are brothers although they have different mothers, and their religion is one.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The phrase “brothers although they have different mothers” means brothers who have the same father but different mothers, i.e., they are the children of co-wives.
Here we would caution readers against believing that the Jews, Christians and Muslims are following the same principles nowadays, because the Jews have changed the religion of their Prophet.
Indeed, part of the religion of their Prophet is that they should follow our Prophet and not reject him, but they disbelieve in the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and associate others in worship with Allah.
The Jews do not have any stake in al-Quds, because even though they may have lived in the land previously, that land now belongs to the Muslims from two points of view:
1- The Jews disbelieved and are no longer following the religion of the believers among the Children of Israel who followed and supported Moses and `Isa (peace be upon them).
2- We Muslims have more right to it than them, because land does not belong to the people who lived there first, but to those who establish the laws of Allah therein.
Allah created the land, and He created people to worship Allah in the land and to establish therein the religion, laws and rulings of Allah. Allah says: “… Verily, the earth is Allah’s. He gives it as a heritage to whom He wills of His slaves; and the (blessed) end is for the Muttaqoon (the pious).” (Al-A`raf 7:128)
It is not the matter of race or ethnicity; it is the matter of tawhid and Islam.
Here it is useful to quote the words of one of the researchers:
“History tells us that the first people to settle in Palestine were the Cananites, six thousand years BCE. They were an Arab tribe who came to Palestine from the Arabian Peninsula, and after their arrival, Palestine was named after them [i.e., Canan].”
(Al-Suhyuniyyah, Nash’atuha, Tanzeematuha, Anshitatuha, by Ahmad al-`Awadi, p. 7).
“As for the Jews, the first time they entered Palestine was approximately six hundred years after Ibrahim had entered the land, i.e., they entered it approximately 1400 years BCE. So the Cananites entered Palestine and lived there approximately 4500 years before the Jews.” (Ibid., p. 8)
Hence it is clear that the Jews have no right to the land, whether according to religious law or in terms of who lived there first and possessed the land. They are aggressors who are seizing the land by force. We ask Allah to rid Bayt al-Maqdis of them sooner rather than later, for He is Able to do that and He is Most Generous in answering. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
Almighty Allah knows best.