Al-Aqsa Library / Qadim Aqsa Masjid
It is located under the Al-Jami al-Aqsa. It extends rectangularly from south to north. It is possible to reach there by an 18-step stone-built staircase. This staircase is located in front of the door to the Al-Jami al-Aqsa. The door in front of the staircase leads to Qadim Aqsa Masjid. This building ends with another door that is called “The Door of the Prophet” in Arabic literature and “The Double Gate” in English writings (Hadi, 2013).
In Qadim Aqsa Masjid, there is a slope arising from the geographical situation where the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard is located (Ghosheh, 2005). This is a structure with two vaults surrounded by pillars made of large stones, stretching from north to south, with a vaulted roof. It originally served as a passage for the Umayyad caliphs connecting their palaces were built next to its southern wall to Al-Aqsa Mosque (Natsheh, 2001). It is estimated that the materials used by the Umayyads in building this place belong to the Romans or Herodic era. However, the Ancient Mosque’s building that was restored and reopened by Al-Aqsa’s Committee for the Reconstruction of Holy Sites in 1998 dates back to the Umayyad period (Natsheh, 2001).
The building has entirely 1,500 square roof. Its 450 square meter eastern part used as a Women's Mosque after Salahadin Ayyabid's ousting of the Crusaders and liberation of the city (Ghosheh, 2005), and western part was an assembly hall for the adjacent Madrasah of Fakhr al-Din Muhammad. This building was closed until recently. It was reopened soon after the repairs and renovations were completed. After that, its former Women's mosque part became al-Aqsa Library, and its western part became Islamic Museum (Ghosheh, 2005).
Today, the al-Aqsa Library is also called as “Al-Khutniyah Library.” Although the nakba in the 1948 stifled the growth of the al-Aqsa Library's collection, there are many manuscripts, printed books, historical or modern journals in al-Aqsa Library (Natsheh, 2001). Its collection covers numerous subjects such as tajwid (the art of reciting the Qur'an), tafsir (exposition of Qur'an), fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), falak (astronomy), hisab (arithmetic), miqat (timing for prayers, fasting and pilgrims), jinn (demons), tasawwuf (Islamic mysticism), history, and Arabic language. From Saturday to Wednesday, the library is open to the public between 9am and 1pm. However, unfortunately, most students have been unable to reach the library because of the extensive security check at the gates of Al-Jami al-Aqsa and the innumerable checkpoints located around Islamicjerusalem (Natsheh, 2001). Still, during the day, children and adult groups take courses here in many different fields (Hadi, 2013).
Ghosheh, M., H., (2005), Guide to the Masjid al-Aqsa: an Architectural and Historical Guide to the Islamic Monuments in Masjid al-Aqsa. Access Address: https://fada.birzeit.edu/handle/20.500.11889/4857
Hadi, M. A., (2013). “Al-Aqsa Mosque Al-Haram Ash-Sharif.” Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, PASSIA. Supported by TİKA.
Natsheh, Y., S., (2001). Al-Aqsa Mosque Library of al-Haram as-Sharif Jerusalem Quarterly File; Jerusalem Iss. 13, (Summer 2001). Access Address: https://search.proquest.com/docview/880342095/citation/3B14175660C44413PQ/1?accountid=15426
For Further Information
http://qmaktabti.org/en/libraries/al-aqsa-mosque-library Old City Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme