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Another Verse That Exposes Muhammad as a Fraud: The Nonexistent Temple Pt. 3

I arrive at the final part of my discussion https://answeringallah.com/another-verse-that-exposes-muhammad-as-a-fraud-the-nonexistent-temple-pt-2/

A Muslim Neophyte Helps Expose Muhammad’s Fraud

In this section, I am going to address some of the arguments raised in the following post by a Muhammadan named Faiz Masood Siddiqi Faiz, a.k.a. quranandbibleblog (https://bloggingtheology2.com/2019/04/14/feature-article-al-isra-and-the-temple-in-the-islamic-sources-a-response-to-sam-shamoun/).

His entire rant is aimed at proving that masjid al-aqsa in Q. 17:1 doesn’t refer to a physical building but to the place or site where the Temple of Jerusalem once stood. I have already refuted this objection in the previous segments so there will be no need to repeat myself. However, what I am going to do in this section is simply cite some of this neophyte’s own sources, which candidly admit that masjid al-aqsa does in fact refer to an actual physical building that Muhammad erroneously thought still existed in Jerusalem at that time.

Note what the following Muslim referenced by this greenhorn states:

“… It is quite remarkable that Mujir Al-Din Al-Hanbali, who wrote Al-Uns Al-Jalil fo Tarikh Al-Quds wal-Khalil in the year 900 AH/1495, when there were no political disputes regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque, offered the following definition

‘Verily, ‘Al-Aqsa’ is a name for THE WHOLE MOSQUE which is surrounded by the wall… for THE BUILDING that exists in the southern part of the Mosque, and the other ones such as the Dome of the Rock and the corridors and other [buildings] are novel (muhdatha).’10” (Mustafa Abu Sway, “The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Qur’an, Sunnah and other Islamic Literary Sources”, p. 5, https://www.academia.edu/6338726/The_Holy_Land_Jerusalem_and_Al-Aqsa_Mosque_in_the_Quran_Sunnah_and_other_Islamic_Literary_Sources_i; bold and capital emphasis mine)

And:

Jerusalem or Bayt Al-Maqdis [House of the Holy] is, by definition, a holy place. It is included in verse 17:1, either by referring to the Al-Aqsa Mosque or to its precincts about which God said: “We did bless”. The great 14th century Muslim scholar, Ibn Kathir, said that Al-Aqsa Mosque is Bayt Al-Maqdis.5 Indeed, the “Al-Aqsa Mosque” and “Bayt Al-Maqdis” are used interchangeably whereby one of them is used as a metaphor of the other, as in the following hadith:

Maimuna said: “O Messenger of Allah! Inform us about Bayt Al-Maqdis!” He said: “It is the land where people will be gathered and resurrected [on the Day of Judgment]. Go (grammatically imperative!) and pray in it, for a prayer in it is the equivalent of a thousand prayers in other [mosques].” I said: “What if I couldn’t reach it?” He said: “Then you send a gift of oil to it in order to be lit in its lanterns, for the one who does so is the same like the one who has been there.” 6 The hadith shows that it is the religious duty of Muslims all over the world to maintain Al-Aqsa Mosque both physically and spiritually.

The relationship with Al-Aqsa Mosque is primarily fulfilled through acts of worship, but the physical maintenance of the Mosque is also part of the responsibility of all Muslims. The fulfillment of both duties will be impaired as long as Al-Aqsa Mosque remains under occupation! The truth of the matter is that under Israeli occupation, Muslims do not have free access to the Mosque. Those who are prevented from having freedom of worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque include, but not restricted to, all Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and occasional restrictions to Jerusalemite men younger than 45 years of age.

Since the miraculous Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad, al-Isra’ wa al-Mi`raj, took place more than fourteen centuries ago, Muslims have established a sublime and perpetual relationship with Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Prophet was taken from Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. This event marked a twining relation between the two mosques. The beginning of Surah Al-Isra’ (17:1) reminds Muslims and non-Muslims of this important event. (Ibid., pp. 3-4; bold emphasis mine)

It should be noted that the Qur’anic reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a mosque, took place years before the actual arrival of Muslims to Jerusalem. It means that part of what the Muslim believes is that Al-Aqsa Mosque was designated as a mosque by God. (Ibid., p. 6)

Al-Aqsa Mosque was developed and the buildings expanded on a large scale during the reign of the two seventh and eighth century Umayyad Caliphs, Abd Al-Malik Ibn Marwan and his son Al-Walid to the extent that it surpassed the architectural grandeur of all mosques. The magnificence of the architecture of the Dome of the Rock and the southern most building within the parameters of Al-Aqsa Mosque is witness to the importance of these holy sites in Islam. (Ibid., p. 7)

Here’s another scholar, which this neophyte quoted:

The expression al-‘udwa al-quswa recurs in extra-Qur’anic texts, in a report about a lesser pilgrimage (‘umra) performed by Muhammad.8 The report delineates Muhammad’s route, and states that he prayed IN A MOSQUE on the “farthest bank” of a valley near al-Ji’rana. The MOSQUE itself is described as the “farthest mosque” (al-masjid al-aqsa), in contrast to a “nearest mosque” (al-masjid al-adnaIN WHICH Muhammad did not pray. Here, TOO, aqsa IS DEFINITELY A DESCRIPTION OF A MOSQUE UPON THE EARTH, although it is clear that the MOSQUE itself is not necessarily identical with the one mentioned in Q 17:1.9 (Uri Rubin, “Muhammad’s Night Journey (isra’) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa: Aspects of the Earliest Origins of the Islamic Sanctity of Jerusalem,” al-Qantara 29 (2008), p. 150, https://www.academia.edu/5617249/_Muhammad_s_Night_Journey_isra_to_al-Masjid_al-Aqsa_Aspects_of_the_Earliest_Origins_of_the_Islamic_Sanctity_of_Jerusalem_; bold and capital emphasis mine)

The EARLIEST AVAILABLE MUSLIM tafsir SOURCES, from Muqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767) on, ARE ABSOLUTELY AGREED THAT THE QUR’ANIC al-Masjid Al-Aqsa STANDS FOR A SANCTUARY IN JERUSALEM. This is one of those not so frequent cases in which JUST ONE INTERPRETATION is suggested for a given Qur’anic passage, IN ALL THE EARLY COMMENTARIES INCLUDING al-Tabari (d. 310/923). The only point on which these exegetes disagree is whether Muhammad visited Jerusalem in spirit or in his body as well.31 (Ibid., p. 157; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Deviation from the exegetical consensus regarding the relationship of the Qur’anic al-Masjid al-Aqsa and Bayt al-Maqdis is first encountered in the Shi’i Tafsir of al-‘Ayyash (third century AH).51 In his exegesis of Q 17:1 he records the following tradition: The sixth imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 148/765) is said to have been visited by a man who asked him which were the most important mosques. The imam said that they were the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca) and the Mosque of the Prophet (in Medina). The man went on saying that people claimed that it was Bayt al-Maqdis (innahu Baytu l-Maqdis), to which the imam retorted: “The mosque of Kufa is better”.

A similar attitude was reportedly shared by the fifth imam Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Baqir (d. 114/732). While sitting near the Ka’bah, he is said to have recited the isra’ verse three times and then stated that Muhammad was taken at night straight into heaven and not to Bayt al-Maqdis, as claimed by the people. He added that the space between the Ka’ba and heaven was a haram, i.e. sacred area.52 (Ibid., p. 161)

I reference a final source employed by this Muhammadan that backfires against him.

Here’s a Muslim author who seeks to explain the hadiths where Muhammad is asked to describe what he saw when he was taken to masjid al-aqsa:

In the above narrations Prophet Muhammad used the term Bayt al-Maqdis, yet it is not clear what this referred to specifically. The various meanings it could have had are THE MOSQUE, the city, or the region. The text of the Hadith refers to this term in a masculine tone. THE MOSQUE IS MASCULINE, so is the region, but the city is feminine. Therefore the city could not be used at all; to have done so would have been ungrammatical. Had the city been meant, the following part of the text would have had to be feminine and would have read ayatiha and ilayha instead of ayatih and ilayh, and for the second narration it would have read farafa’aha and ilayhi instead of farafa’uh and ilayh. The city can thus be excluded. This is so if the word madinat (city), which is feminine, is added to the front of the name Bayt al-Maqdis. However, if the word balad (city), which is masculine, is added to the front of the name Bayt al-Maqdis, the word Bayt al-Maqdis is neutral and can be made feminine or masculine by the word which precedes it. Back to the same dilemma: was he referring to the Mosque, the city or the region?

A less authentic narration specifies THAT IS THE MOSQUE THAT WAS ELEVATED (al-Tabarani nd, v.12:167-8; Ibn Abi Shaybah 1994, v.7:422-3, v. 8:445; Ibn ‘Asakir 1996, v.41:235). This says that Ibn ‘Abbas HEARD THE prophet –also in Madinah– say that when he returned to Makkah from al-Isra’ and was certain the people would not believe him, Abu Jahl came to him and the Prophet told him what had happened. Then Abu Jahl went and gathered the people –of Quraysh– and asked the Prophet to tell them what he had told him. So the Prophet said…

I have been on al-Isra’ tonight, so they ask to where. He replies to Bayt al-Maqdis, They said Aelia, he replied: yes…

This narration gives us a better insight into their understanding. When he mentioned that he had been to Bayt al-Maqdis, they recognised it to be the same as Aelia. They then asked him to describe the site of the Mosque, specifically. This could have been because he would have probably recited to them the verse of al-Isra’ which mentions al-Aqsa Mosque, or mentioned to them that HE HAD BEEN INSIDE THE MOSQUE. So the Prophet adds…

They said can you describe THE MOSQUE?… THE MOSQUE WAS BROUGHT WHILE I WAS LOOKING AT IT

This text is equivalent to the other two texts, mentioned earlier in which, instead of the Mosque, Bayt al-Maqdis is stated. This could mean that Bayt al-Maqdis there REFERS TO THE MOSQUE, as this Hadith EXPLICITLY EXPLAINS IT, or it could mean the city or the region.

To conclude on the narrations of al-Isra‘: the author can safely say that the Prophet, using the term Bayt al-Maqdis, referred mostly to the city, as was even understood by the people of Quraysh. However the last narration, if joined with other narrations, could mean the Mosque. (Khalid El-Awaisi, The Names of Islamic Jerusalem in the Prophetic Period, pp. 34-35 https://dergipark.org.tr/download/article-file/294441; capital emphasis ours)

It gets a lot worse for the greenhorn since this same author candidly admits that there are hadiths where Muhammad is clearly referring to an actual physical building, a mosque in fact, and not merely to the site of where the Temple once stood:

… This is clearly evident after the Prophet had told them about his Night Journey TO AL-AQSA MOSQUE, and they asked him for precise details of what he had seen. The name used in their discussion was mainly Bayt al-Maqdis as well as Aelia… (Ibid., p. 25; capital emphasis mine)

The Night Journey was a major milestone in the connection between Muslims and Bayt al-Maqdis. This journey produced countless narrations that relate the name used for this location at that time. Both the name of the area and the Mosque will be examined, since the journey was to Bayt al-Maqdis in general AND THE MOSQUE OF BAYT AL-MAQDIS (al-Aqsa Mosque) IN PARTICULAR (Qur’an 17:1)… (Ibid., p. 32; capital emphasis mine)

Ibn Majah named the section for this Hadith as: “what is said about praying in the Mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis”; as for al-Nasa’i he names the section: “the virtue of praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque” (Ibn Majah 2000:206; al-Nasa’i 2000, v.1:112). So Ibn Majah tries to distinguish between Bayt al-Maqdis and the mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis, as does al-Nasa’i when he equates the mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis to al-Aqsa Mosque…

Prophet Muhammad told his followers that they could only set off for three mosques with the sole object of visiting; he named the al-Haram Mosque in Makkah, his mosque in Madinah, and al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamicjerusalem. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the focal point of Bayt al-Maqdis, and is referred to by various names n the Ahadith of shadd al-Rihal (setting off) to the three mosques. All these Ahadith were narrated in Madinah after the hijra (migration) for two reasons. The first is that except for a few most of the narrators would have only met the Prophet in Madinah after the hijra. The second reason is that the second mosque mentioned in the Hadith, the mosque of the Prophet, was only built after the hijra, so surely these Ahadith could not have been said in Makkah.

In most of these Ahadith THE MOSQUE IS REFERRED TO WITH THE QUR’ANIC TERMINOLOGY al-Masjid al-Aqsa (al-Bukhari 2000, v.1:223; Muslim 2000, v.1:548; al-Tirmidhi 2000, v.1:98), although some narrations use other terms. In the narration from Abu Hurayrah mentioned in Muslim (2000, v.1:567), it is said that the Prophet used the term masjid lliya’ (Mosque of Aelia). This would have been said by the Prophet in the later years in Madinah as Abu Hurayarah became Muslim in the year 7Ah/628CE. Therefore the Prophet used the term Aelia, the Byzantine name for the region and was aware of it. Another name used to refer to al-Aqsa Mosque is masjid Bayt al-Maqdis (Mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis) (Ibn Hanbal 1995, v.10:144). This is similar to masjid Iliya’; in both cases the Mosque is associated with the name of a place, Aelia and Bayt al-Maqdis. But could both these names be synonyms of the same name? This is also the case in two other narrations where the narrator equates both masjid Iliya’ and Bayt al-Mqadis (Malik 2000:36-7). Therefore it can be said that the mosque is part of Bayt al-Maqdis also known as Aelia.

On the other hand, in two other narrations al-Aqsa Mosque is referred to as Bayt al-Maqdis without the word masjid (Mosque) used beforehand (Ibn Hanbal 1995, v.10:293). In these narrations Bayt al-Maqdis most likely does not apply to the city or the region since the start of the Hadith CLEARLY REFERS TO THE THREE MOSQUES: it states, “only set of to three mosques” and then names them. Therefore in these two narrations Bayt al-Maqdis REFERS ONLY TO AL-AQSA MOSQUE. THIS IS FURTHER SUPPORTED by another Hadith where the Prophet was saying farewell to man and asked him where he was heading; he replied Bayt al-Maqdis. The Prophet replied saying that a prayer in this mosque –the Prophet’s Mosque– is better than a thousand prayers in any other except al-Haram Mosque (Ibn Hanbal 1995, v.10:243). So the understanding of the Prophet, in this case, when the man told him he was heading for Bayt al-Maqdis, was that HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE MOSQUE – unless it was a passing comment about the city AND ITS MOSQUE.

From the above narrations it can be observed that al-Aqsa Mosque was referred to as Bayt al-Maqdis, something that we have already noticed in previous Ahadith. But it was referred to also as the mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis and the mosque of Aelia, which was more popular in these Ahadith than Bayt al-Maqdis alone. (Ibid., pp. 38-40; capital emphasis mine)

The author is seemingly trying too hard to prove his assertion that Bayt al-Maqdis doesn’t have to always mean the Mosque or the Temple, since the phrase masjid Bayt al-Maqdis doesn’t necessarily translate into “the mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis”. The Arabic can easily be rendered as “the mosque that is known as/called Bayt al-Maqdis.” Be that as it may, the author’s acknowledgment that Bayt al-Maqdis and masjid al-aqsa do indeed refer to an actual mosque that Muhammad erroneously thought stood in Jerusalem essentially refutes this greenhorn’s desperate attempt of proving the contrary.

There’s more:

The Prophet was asked by Maymunah bint al-Harith about Bayt al-Mqadis; he told her, it is the land of raising and gathering (Ibn Majah 2000:206; ABu Dawud 2000, v.1:80). From this sentence he is obviously referring to a large area, as the term used is Ard (land), which cannot be used to refer to a small area or a city; rather it would refer to a large area that could include many cities. This is supported further by other Ahadith that refers to al-Sham as the land of the raising and gathering.

However, the second part of the Hadith states “go and pray in it, as a prayer in it is equal to one thousand times a prayer in any other.” When the Prophet was further asked if a person would not be able to get to it, the Prophet added “send oil to light it.” This RESTRICTS the meaning of the Hadith TO THE MOSQUE ONLY, and CANNOT be used for the city or the region since the text has a masculine structure, not the feminine one needed when speaking about the city.

Nevertheless the first part of the Hadith can be taken to refer to the region generally, with the second part referring SPECIFICALLY TO THE MOSQUE. This is further supported by another Hadith narrated by Abu Dhar, in which he asks the Prophet: Which is better, a prayer in the mosque of Bayt al-Maqdis or the mosque of the Prophet (in Madinah)? The Prophet replied that his mosque was four times better; however, a time would come where a place to see Bayt al-Maqdis from would be better than the whole world (al-Hakim 1990, v.4:554; al-Hindi 1998, v.12:115). In some of the narrations, in the Prophet’s reply he states… “wada ni’ma al-Musalla fi Ard al-Mahshar wal-Manshar” that it is an admirable place of worship in the land of gathering and raising (al-Hindi 1998, v:12:115). Which implies that this land is much more than the mosque; THE MOSQUE IS ONLY A SMALL PART OF IT. (Ibid., pp. 45-46)

The author basically gives away the real reason behind his attempt to demonstrate that the phrase Bayt al-Maqdis doesn’t necessarily have to refer to a mosque or a physical building:

The furthest northern expedition led by Prophet Muhammad was Tabuk – now in northern Saudi Arabia. During this expedition, and while he was in Tabuk in the year 9AH/630 CE, ‘Awf Ibn Malik came to the Prophet’s tent. The Prophet told him to count six incidents between them and the Day of Judgment. The first was the death of the Prophet, the second the Fath (conquest) of Bayt al-Maqdis, and he then named four other incidents (al-Bukhari 2000, v.2:621; Ibn Majah 2000:587). This is narrated in fourteen different narrations, all of which mention that the Prophet used the name Bayt al-Mqadis; however, in one narration aside from the other fourteen, the name mentioned was Aelia (al-Tabarani nd, v.18:66). This will not be taken into consideration as it is a weaker narration, and was possibly the words of one of the narrators rather than those of the Prophet.

The Fath of Bayt al-Maqdis here refers to both the region and the city, WHICH ALSO INCLUDES THE MOSQUE. However the mosque AT THAT TIME was in ruins, and thus IT WOULD NOT MAKE SENSE to say that this second major incident would be the conquering of a ruined site. (Ibid., pp. 42-43; capital emphasis mine)

Note the circularity of the author’s statements. Since there wasn’t an actual mosque when Muhammad spoke these words, it, therefore, makes no sense to assume that Bayt al-Maqdis refers to such!

Now it is evident why the city would be called Bayt al-Maqdis, namely, because of the physical building located within it. I.e., people identified Jerusalem and its environs with its Temple and therefore started to call the entire area by the name given to the Temple. The author himself confirms this fact, while also refuting himself at the same:

A man came to the Prophet on the day he took-over Makkah in 8AH/630CE, and told him Prophet that he had vowed if God helped the Prophet and the believers to enter Makkah victorious he would pray in Bayt al-Maqdis (Abu Dawud 2000, v.2:570; al-San’ani nd: v.8, 395-6). The man used the name Bayt al-Maqdis when telling the Prophet about this. The Prophet replied just pray here; the man however insisted and the Prophet replied it’s your business. In other narrations the Prophet told him to go and pray in it, telling him that had, however, he prayed here it would have compensated for every prayer in Bayt al-Maqdis (Ibn Hanbal 1995, v.16:544). The Prophet also used the term Bayt al-Maqdis in the discussion. But they are referring to a place of prayer, SO THIS COULD BE AL-AQSA MOSQUE. Nevertheless it could have been referring to the city or the region, as al-Aqsa Mosque is its central apart AND ITS MAIN MOSQUE. As is the case with Makkah or Madinah; when a person states that he is going to pray in Makkah or Madinah; this means that he is going to pray within the area of Makkah or Madinah in general and in its MAIN MOSQUE IN PARTICULAR. This would be the case for Bayt al-Maqdis too, i.e. that it is the area in general AND THE MOSQUE IN PARTICULAR as it is the place reward is multiplied.14 (Ibid., p. 41; capital emphasis mine)

The problem with this author’s claims is that he hasn’t provided any clear-cut case where the phrase Bayt al-Maqdis only means the site or land, and not to the physical building or mosque itself. Besides, he has given plenty of examples where the expression does refer to a physical building, which Muhammad erroneously assumed existed in Jerusalem.

Ironically, the author shows that there were other words that Muhammad could have used if he were indeed referring to the land, and not to an actual physical building or mosque, namely, “Land of Barakah” or al-ard al-muqadasah:

In addition to the Qur’anic terminology “Land of Barakah” that would have been used by the Prophet in Makkah as well as in Madinah, a further term was introduced in the Qur’an and used by the Prophet, al-Ard al-Muqadasah (Holy Land). This would have occurred towards the end of the Prophet’s life. This chapter (5: al-Ma’idah) was revealed in Madinah and was one of the last chapters to be revealed (al-Zarkashi 1998, v1: 194). The term was also used by the Prophet on numerous occasions. There are a number of Ahadith, all of which seem to have taken place towards the end of his life in Madinah. One relates to the death of Prophet Moses in which Prophet Muhammad mentions that Prophet Moses asked God to bring him close to the Holy Land as he was about to die.15 The Hadith was narrated by Abu Hurayrah (d. 59AH/679CE) who only became Muslim in the year 7AH in Madinah as mentioned earlier, thus just a few years before the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Another Hadith narrated by Samrah Ibn Jundub (d. 59 AH/679CE), who would have been young when the Prophet passed away, says that Prophet Muhammad after asking them about their dreams said that he saw that two men came to him and took him to al-Ard al-Muqadasah (al-Bukhari 2000, v.1:259-60).

In another narration ‘Abdallah Ibn Hawalah (d.58 AH/678CE), who was from amongst the Ansar (helpers in Madinah), narrates that Prophet Muhammad sent them on an expedition and when they came back exhausted, the Prophet placed his hand on ‘Abdallah’s head and told him “when the Caliphate is in al-Ard al-Muqadasah then tribulations… are near” (Abu Dawud 2000, C.2:435).

Another Hadith narrated by Abu Dhar (d. 32AH/652-3CE), tells of when he was with the Prophet in Madinah; this would have been after the year 5AH when he settled in Madinah. He was asked by the Prophet what he would do if he had to leave Madinah and Makkah and he replied he would head to al-Ard al-Muqadasah (Ibn Hanbal 1995, v.16:19). (Ibid., pp. 42-43)

Unfortunately for the Muhammadan neophyte, his prophet didn’t employ any of these terms but used the one expression that ends up exposing him as a fraud.

As if the greenhorn couldn’t get any more desperate, he quotes the Bible to prove his case that mosque or temple doesn’t have to necessarily mean a building, but can refer to a site or location:

“When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site.” Ezra 2:68

After citing this text, the Muhammadan gleefully writes, “Hmmm, now that’s interesting. In the book of Ezra, the yet-to-be-rebuilt temple is called ‘the house of the Lord in Jerusalem’.”

Sadly for this neophyte, he failed to see how this text confirms my point and refutes his entire case.

To begin with, the only way that we even know that this passage is not speaking about the physical Temple is because the context makes it clear that this took place during the time when the Temple was being rebuilt. Note the following verses from the book of Ezra:

“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah, the LORD roused the spirit of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing: This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me TO BUILD HIM A HOUSE AT JERUSALEM IN JUDAH. Any of his people among you, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah AND BUILD THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he resides, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem.’ So the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites—everyone whose spirit God had roused—prepared to go up and BUILD the LORD’s house in Jerusalem. All their neighbors supported them with silver articles, gold, goods, livestock, and valuables, in addition to all that was given as a freewill offering. King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the LORD’s house that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and had placed in the house of his gods.” Ezra 1:1-6

The immediate chapter explicitly shows that Cyrus was sending the Jews to rebuild the house of the LORD, which had previously been destroyed by the Babylonians. And here again is the very text that the neophyte cited:

“When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward THE REBUILDING of the house of God on ITS SITE.” Ezra 2:68

Notice the reference to ITS SITE, which makes it abundantly clear that this is speaking of the rebuilding of the Temple in the very place that the former Temple once stood. Now let’s see what happens when we quote the next chapter:

“When the seventh month arrived, and the Israelites were in their towns, the people gathered as one in Jerusalem. Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers BEGAN TO BUILD THE ALTAR of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. THEY SET UP THE ALTAR ON ITS FOUNDATION and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the LORD even though they feared the surrounding peoples. They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. After that, they offered the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month and for all the LORD’s appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to the LORD. On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, EVEN THOUGH THE FOUNDATION OF THE LORD’S TEMPLE HAD NOT YET BEEN. They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization given them by King Cyrus of Persia.” Ezra 3:1-7

Notice how the immediate and overall contexts of Ezra are explicit in showing that the verse in question could not be referring to a physical building, but to the site or location where the Temple once stood.

However, this is unlike Q. 17:1 since there is nothing contextually to suggest it is referring to a place as opposed to a building.

I will repeat my point so that readers can see the problem with the greenhorn’s fallacious and desperate appeal to the book of Ezra. Unlike the context of Ezra 2:68, there is nothing in the context of Q. 17:1 that even remotely suggests that masjid al-aqsa refers to a place or site. As the evidence I have presented has proven, masjid al-aqsa can only refer to a physical building, one which did not exist at the time of Muhammad. As such, this is a blunder that will not go away, and which exposes Muhammad as a fraud and a false prophet.

With the foregoing in perspective, I conclude with the words of noted Christian apologist and writer John Gilchrist:

Furthermore the narratives in the Hadith expose a glaring anachronism. After proclaiming that he had been to Jerusalem Muhammad was allegedly asked to describe the Temple. He is said to have replied:

I stood at al-Hijr, visualised Bayt al-Muqaddas and described its signs. Some of them said: How many doors are there in that mosque? I had not counted them so I began to look at it and counted them one by one and gave them information concerning them. (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 248).

Another tradition states that when the Qurayah disbelieved him, Muhammad answered “Allah lifted me before Bait-ul-Maqdis and I began to narrate to them (the Quraish of Mecca) its signs while I was in fact looking at it” (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 109). There is a real problem here for the structure had been destroyed more than five hundred years earlier and the site at that time had become a rubbish-dump and was so discovered by Umar when he conquered Jerusalem some years later. It cannot be said that Muhammad saw a vision of the Temple as it had been before it was destroyed for the Quraysh were asking him to describe contemporary Jerusalem as he saw it that very night. How could he have counted the doors of a building that no longer existed?

The whole story of the Mi’raj as found in the Hadith may well be a pure fiction, a conclusion that will be reinforced through a study of its sources shortly. Here let it be said that it is not at all certain that Muhammad ever claimed that he actually ascended to heaven. It is possible that he merely related a striking dream, which he took as a vision, in which he imagined his journey to Jerusalem. Al-Hasan reported:

One of Abu Bakr’s family told me that Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, used to say: “The apostle’s body remained where it was but God removed his spirit by night”. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 183).

These words clearly teach that Muhammad never left his apartment the whole night. Furthermore the Qur’an plainly restricts the journey to the Isra as we have seen. It is probable that what was originally nothing more than a dream of a journey to Jerusalem has been transformed into an actual physical event which was followed by an ascent through the heavens to the throne of Allah himself.

The suggestion that even the Isra was only a dream is strengthened by the fact that the anachronism appearing in the Hadith is also found in the Qur’an for the latter also states that Muhammad was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem in Surah 17.1 quoted above. Although the Qur’an does not refer to the baitul-muqaddas but only to the masjidul-aqsait is clear that the same shrine is intended as the Qur’an in the same way describes the baitullah, the Ka’aba in Mecca, as the masjidul-haram. Furthermore the context establishes this interpretation for, only a few verses later, the Qur’an actually records the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem and here simply describes it as al-masjid (Surah 17.7 – the word today is only used of a Muslim mosque but in the Qur’an it is commonly used for any holy sanctuary).

Although Muhammad obviously knew of the destruction of the second Temple, it seems he believed that it had been rebuilt like the first one. The fact that he first chose Jerusalem as his qiblah before turning to the masjidul-haram in Mecca adds considerable weight to this suggestion for he would hardly have chosen the former if he had known that no masjidul-aqsa stood on the site at that time, where the mosque of this name now stands, but only a compost heap.

It seems appropriate to conclude that the experience Muhammad had was really only a dream which characterised his illusions about Jerusalem, and that the whole story of the Mi’raj is accordingly nothing more than a mythical fantasy imaginatively built upon it. (Gilchrist, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, 3. The Nature of Muhammad’s Prophetic Experience, C. Al-Mi’ra: The Alleged Ascent to Heaven https://answeringislam.net/Gilchrist/Vol1/3d.html; bold emphasis ours)

I couldn’t have said it any better!

Further Reading

The Farthest Mosque? (https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/h003.html)

Muhammad’s Night Journey to Masjid Al-Aqsa (https://answeringislam.net/Responses/Saifullah/aqsa.htm)

Reexamining the Evidence Against Muhammad’s Prophethood Pt. 1 (https://www.answeringislam.net/authors/shamoun/rebuttals/zaatari/mo-false1.html)

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