Growing up in a non-Muslim country, I did not hear much about the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque from my parents. Like others, they focused on raising us; my siblings and I; on learning the five pillars of Islam.
Much effort was put into teaching us the significance of worships including our daily prayers and fasting. They also taught us about Hajj.
However, when I became interested in unicorns, horses with wings and Falkor the luck dragon from the movie Never Ending Story, my father taught me about our sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque. I was telling my dad about fast Falkor flew which prompted my father to introduce the story.
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The winged horse
As I sat mesmerized, my father told me, as simply as possible, that one night the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was taken on a journey by angel Gabriel on a white heavenly horse named Al-Buraq.
Our prophet was taken from the holy mosque in Makkah to Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, he ascended to Heaven and talked to Allah in a long detailed story.
Being an inquisitive child, I focused on two details: the winged horse and the mosque that was visited. “Tell me about it,” I asked my father.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is to the Muslim ummah as precious as the sacred Kabah in Makkah, he told me. After all, it was the first qiblah, the direction that Muslims face when praying and it was also the second house of Allah, built on earth.
Sharing the knowledge of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Many years later, I relayed the same story about Al-Aqsa Mosque to my children, who in turn will relay it to theirs.
I told them, just as my late father told me, that it was the only place on earth where all the Messengers of Allah prayed at the same time, led by Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all).
Many Messengers of Allah and Companions lived in Al-Quds, the city of Al-Aqsa mosque.
News about the mosque and the city of Jerusalem are hot topics in the media. Al-Aqsa has been the subject of much debate and unrest.
While this is not a political piece, it is significant we familiarize ourselves and our children with the history of this great mosque.
Our children will learn about Makkah and Madinah, as they are the birthplaces of Islam. They’re featured often in Muslim life. Let them also know the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the significant status assigned to it in Islam.
Make the family more aware of the plight of others
Islam builds within us a mentality of being concerned for the affairs of others who find themselves in difficultly. Here, we instill in our children the love of the mosque. Let them know why we love it, what it means to the Ummah.
Creating awareness is important. You can’t feel for the plight of the Al-Aqsa if you do not know where or what it is or what it represents.
Teach your children about the rights of Palestinians to their own land. Talk to them about the justice and peace that Muslims had established in the area.
Recount to them the stories of Muslims who liberated the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Crusaders. Tell them about Saladin, who nobly and mercifully, allowed defeated crusaders to evacuate Jerusalem peacefully with their belongings and families.
With knowledge comes awareness. With awareness comes love. And with love comes the motivation to help those defending the holy Mosque. If not in deed, then with speech.
The next time you have a family night, how about chatting about the mosque? Open discussions can create excitement around Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Many years later, I still remember the excitement in my late father’s eyes as he spoke to me about the beautiful Al-Aqsa.
I remember how I reflected on his words. Back then, the winged horse was what caught my attention the most. But what I took away from it was this beautiful hadith relayed by Anas Ibn Malik:
The prayer prayed in the Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) is akin to one hundred thousand prayers, and the prayer in my mosque is akin to one thousand prayers and the prayer in Bait al-Maqdis (the Al-Aqsa Mosque) is akin to five hundred prayers.
I pray that I was able to instill in my children the love of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. I hope when they narrate the story to their children it will already have been restored to the Muslims with no more clashes, no more sadness and no more loss of lives.