Mecca is the mother other of cities-more precisely, the earth under the Kaabah – Akhbaar Makkah. Allah has favoured Mecca for the building of the first masjid: “The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkah (Mecca).” (3: 96). Whether one is on earth or at sea, one must face the qiblah of the Kabah: “From whatever place you start, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Masjid.” (2: 149). “Full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds.” (3: 96). And hence, one must proceed to Mecca in order to gather the fruits of spirituality for one’s own inner self and to acquire virtues for the Hereafter. It is no longer a question of means, but rather a fervent love to visit Allah’s favourite house, the Sacred Mosque.
After the Masjid al Haram of Mecca, it is that of Madinah (Masjid an Nabawi) which is the most sacred one on earth. And then, it is the Masjid Al Aqsa of Jerusalem. That is the why the Qur’an mentions blessings around Masjid Al Aqsa. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “Glory to (Allah) who did take His servant for a journey by night from the Masjidal Haraam(Mecca) to Masjid al Aqsa where We have blessed its surroundings so as We might show him some of Our signs.” (17: 1). According to tafseers, the blessings mentioned in the verse are partly due to the fact that many prophets (as) have served there and have left their traces of blessings. Thus, it is recommended to proceed there in order to acquire those spiritual benefits. Allah Ta’ala has desired that His prophet (saw) visit that sacred place before the Mi’raj (Ascension into Heaven).
Note that the beloved prophet SAW did 5 errands to haram during His 10 years of Madinah. Hudaibiyah, Replacing the Umrah next year, victory over Makkah, a umrah after Hawazin and finally His Hajj al wada`. This makes up to an average of one visit every 2 years. On hazrat Mowlana Yousuf Kandlewi r.a. set up Hajj Jamaats to haram every 2 years. This initiative introduced the work of Da`wa in many countries.
There is a sahih hadith of Ibn Majah which encourages us to really proceed to Masjid Al Aqsa. The beloved prophet (saw) has stated: “When Sulaiman (as), son of David (as), had completed the construction of Bait ul Muqaddas, he invoked Allah by means of three duas: the first was a stable kingship based on absolute justice, the second was a wide kingdom which nobody after him would have, and the third was that whoever comes afterwards to perform salah in Masjid Al Aqsa after that may obtain forgiveness for all his sins, so much so as if he has just been born from his mother’s womb.” The holy prophet (saw) has added: “We know that the first two duas have been granted and we are hopeful that the third one has also been fulfilled.” (Ibn Majah)
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَمَّا فَرَغَ سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ دَاوُدَ مِنْ بِنَاءِ بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ سَأَلَ اللَّهَ ثَلَاثًا حُكْمًا يُصَادِفُ حُكْمَهُ وَمُلْكًا لَا يَنْبَغِي لَأَحَدٍ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَلَّا يَأْتِيَ هَذَا الْمَسْجِدَ أَحَدٌ لَا يُرِيدُ إِلَّا الصَّلَاةَ فِيهِ إِلَّا خَرَجَ مِنْ ذُنُوبِهِ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَمَّا اثْنَتَانِ فَقَدْ أُعْطِيَهُمَا وَأَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونَ قَدْ أُعْطِيَ الثَّالِثَةَ
It is therefore recommended to visit Bait ul Muqaddas. However, the shariah requires that we give preference to Masjids of Mecca and Madinah. Nevertheless, we should recall that the beloved Prophet (saw) did undertake only one journey astride the Buraaq and that was from Mecca to Jerusalem. It is therefore a Sunnah to pay a visit to Masjid Al Aqsa. And we should also note that Masjid Al Aqsa was used as qiblah during the first seventeen months of Hijri era, after the emigration to Madinah.
Nowadays, Umrah groups first visit the Haramain and then they proceed Masjid Al Aqsa. However, a narration indicates that it is more commendable to proceed to Jerusalem before the Umrah. The holy Prophet (saw) has stated: “WHOEVER WEARS HIS IHRAAM AT MASJID Al AQSA AND PROCEEDS FOR UMRAH FROM THERE, HE WILL HAVE ALL HIS SINS FORGIVEN.” (Sahih Ibn Hibban).
عن أم سلمة قالت : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : « من أهل من المسجد الأقصى بعمرة غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه » ، قال : فركبت أم حكيم إلى بيت المقدس حتى أهلت منه بعمرة
The virtue of wearing the ihram at Masjid Al Aqsa has also been mentioned in the following Hadith collections: Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Abu Ya’laa, Baihaqi and Darul Qutni. Moreover, there are narrations of those sahabahs (ra) who went there to wear their ihram. A narration from Baihaqi reports that, under the caliphate of Umar (ra), Hazrat Muaaz (ra) and Ka’ab (ra) led a group of Muslims to Masjid Al Aqsa where they wore their ihram and from there proceeded for Umrah. On another occasion, a man came to see Umar (ra) in order to seek his permission to visit Masjid Al Aqsa. Umar (ra) replied: Go and get ready for the journey. When you are ready, come and see me. When he was ready, Umar (ra) told him: Go ahead and from there perform an umrah. (Ibn Abi Shaibah).
عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ ، قَالَ : أَتَى رَجُلٌ عُمَرَ ، فَقَالَ : إنِّي أُرِيدُ بَيْتَ الْمَقْدِسِ ، فَقَالَ : اذْهَبْ فَتَجَهَّزْ فَإِذَا تَجَهَّزْت فَآذِنِّي ، فَلَمَّا تَجَهَّزَ أَتَاهُ ، قَالَ : اجْعَلْهَا عُمْرَةً.
It has been reported in Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaibah that Hazrat Ibn Umar (ra) did wear his ihram in Masjid Al Aqsa. Narrators of Hadith, Wakee and Umme Hakeem, did both wear their ihraam at Masjid Al Aqsa before proceeding for Umrah from there. (Abu Dawood, Ibn Hibbaan)
It is therefore recommended to visit Bait ul Muqaddas from time to time. However, nowadays, organizers of such trips plan such a visit only after Umrah. It is noteworthy that it is more virtuous, for those who have the means to perform Umrah and the visit to Palestine, to proceed to Jerusalem before Umrah. So therefore, do 2 rakaats in Masjid ul Aqsa, Jerusalem, then wear your ihram at Masjid Al Aqsa and from there proceed to Makkah for Umrah. In this way, you will acquire the virtue of forgiveness and at the same time you will imitate the actions of the sahabahs (ra). And if all those who have means could act in this way, then Masjid Al Aqsa would have become a better-frequented place by the Muslim world. In that respect, Muslims would have had a greater influence over that Masjid, which, nowadays, is under other influence.
KNOW THAT PUTTING IHRAAM OF YOUR UMRAH THERE WOULD FORGIVE YOUR SINS, AND ALSO WOULD BE A HELPFUL PRESENCE THAT WOULD BENEFIT THE PALESTINIANS INSHA ALLAH. LET`S REVIVE THIS SUNNAH! Or at least go to the border of Palestine and apply for an entry and make duas there.