Al-Buraq Wall

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Al-Buraq Wall (Photo by http://fotokto.ru/

Al-Buraq Wall[edit]

As a prominent monument of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Buraq Wall in Islam also known as Western Wall in Western literature, is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Islamicjerusalem. It also constitutes the eastern part of the city and it is established on Mount Moriah, accordingly several buildings were constructed alongside over the centuries. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) This wall is named as "Al-Buraq Wall" according to Islamic sources, because of the fact that al-Buraq was the name of the heavenly steed on which the Prophet Muhammad rode on his night journey, Isra and Mi'raj, from Makka to Islamicjerusalem, and he tied his al-Buraq to this wall before ascending to the heavens. (Syed, 2020) This miraculous event took place on the 27 Rajab, and eighteen months before Hijrah (Hegira) (d. 632 CE / 13 AH). (Nor, 2006) This miraculous event obviously refers to the significance of Islamicjerusalem not only as a medium of the relation between earth and Heaven, but also as a hub of a relationship between humankind and The Creator. (Nor, 2006) However, the Orientalists, who are unable to understand the concept of a mosque in Islam and the references of Islamicjerusalem in the core sources of Islam, doubt that this miraculous event took place and they claim that al-Aqsa Mosque was erected in the commemoration of this event. (Nor, 2011) Moreover, the Jews allege that this wall is a remnant of the Second Jewish Temple erected by Herod the Great in 20 BC, so within the expansion part, they come to pray and lament for their destroyed temple. For this reason, this wall is also named as "Wailing Wall". As a matter of fact, it is important to be aware of the fact that the historical and archaeological evidences indicate that not only this wall but also the present area of al-Aqsa Mosque enclave remained desolate during the Roman period. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) In addition, when the structural development of al-Aqsa Mosque before the Islamic fath (liberation) of Islamicjerusalem is considered, the results of the excavations indicate that the earliest tangible archaeological traces revealed that al-Aqsa Mosque was a built-up area in the Roman period, which does not mean that it was Romans who established the al-Aqsa enclave. (Al-Ratrout, 2013) As for the building stones, according to Warren who first excavated the Buraq Wall in 1867 AD, the results show that the courses at the bottom of the wall are of enormous blocks of limestone, one of whom is more than 7 m long and the height of whom is on average 1-1.2 m, dated to the late Roman or Byzantine period. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) Later excavations confirms that at some 477 metres from the south-west corner of Al-Aqsa, for some reason the original Roman work was abandoned and never finished, including the Roman street adjacent to this Wall. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) The next four courses, consisting of smaller plainly dressed stones, are Umayyad work (8th century, Early Islamic period). Above that are 16–17 courses of small stones from the Mamluk period (13–16th century, Late Islamic Period) and later. (Al-Ratrout, 2004)

As core sources of Islam; the Qur'an and Hadith literature shows how long ago Al-Aqsa Mosque was erected. For example: Abu Dharr reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, which mosque was set up first on the earth? He said: Al-Masjid al-Haram (the sacred). I (again) said: Then which next? He said: It was the Masjid Al-Aqsa. I (again) said: How long the space of time (between their setting up)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: It was forty years. And whenever the time comes for prayer, pray there, for that is a mosque. (Recorded by Al Bukhari (4/186, 3394), Muslim (1/154,168), Tirmidhi (5,300, No. 3130) and Ahmed (2/261) (7776)). Although this hadith related to Al-Aqsa Mosque is not a reference for the scientific evidences, it offers a religious perspective to support the judgement that the significance of al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims is not restricted to the time of Prophet Muhammad, even it dates back to the first Prophet Adam. Therefore, this wall, which is a part of Masjid Al-Aqsa, is significant not only due to the incident of Isra and Miraj, but also because it is the second most important Masjid built to worship Allah. Furthermore, this fact also points to the physical link between Makkah and Islamicjerusalem even before the birth of the Muslims' Prophet, which is confirmed by the orientation of al-Aqsa Mosque, including the direction of its southern wall. (Al-Ratrout, 2013) Therefore, from the mentioned hadith, one can also conclude that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa was established on earth after Al-Masjid Al-Haram; thus, the Qiblah of Al-Aqsa Mosque was oriented towards Makkah Al-Mukarramah, which is an another significant point to concentrate on.

On the other hand, the matter of the first and the second Jewish Temple seems more related to the mythology rather than the archaeology due to the fact that the size, the shape and location of the Jewish Temple in relation to the present area of Al-Aqsa Mosque are controversial among the biblical references and Israeli scholars as well. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) According to Old Testament texts, King Solomon had built a temple for worship in the current site of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, which is a religious manipulation of the Zionists to put in a claim for destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Because this claim was refuted through all-excavations in Islamicjerusalem and around Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa for over more than a hundred and fifty years. It is highly contradictory for the Zionists to claim that the Buraq Wall is a remnant of the alleged temple, even though they were unable to find any trace of the Second Temple by digging under the Masjid Al-Aqsa platform. Furthermore, since David (Dawud) and Solomon (Sulayman) are kings and not prophets for Jews, which causes another contradiction in Jewish narration to mix the temple or palace concepts. However, according to the Muslim creed, they are two dignified prophets sent by Allah and they did not build a temple, but liberated Islamicjerusalem (Bayt al-Maqdis) from the tyrants and with an authority that has never been bestowed to anyone before by Allah, they revived the Tawhid belief (Oneness of Allah) all around the Land of Barakah (Qur'an 21:81), just as the migration of Abraham to the land which was given Barakah (Qur'an 21:71). Moreover, many prophets lived in Islamicjerusalem, spent part of their lives in this region, or at least set out to reach there. It would be a mistake to limit the Barakah bestowed upon this region to the prophets who lived here or only to the Night Journey. On the contrary, the Barakah was bestowed to the land of Islamicjerusalem long before, since the source of the Barakah, al-Aqsa Mosque, was also there well before Abraham. (El-Awaisi, 2007)

In a broader sense, "Buraq Wall" can refer to the entire 488 m retaining wall on the eastern portion of al-Masjid al-Aqsa having the holiest stones in the city. This side of the Masjid is also called as "Wailing Wall" due to the Jews who are intensionally using this place for Jewish liturgy. Furthermore, while the wall was considered Muslim property as an integral part of al-Aqsa Mosque and waqf property of the Moroccan Quarter, the Jews claim that they have a right to pray and pilgrimage existed as part of the Status Quo. However, the Wall itself, the pavement in front of it and the adjacent Moroccan Quarter, were legally Moslem property. This position was in general reaffirmed by the International Commission appointed by the British Government in 1930, with the approval of the Council of the League of Nations. The International Commission ruled that although the Jews enjoyed no sort of proprietary rights to the Wall or the adjacent pavement, they should have free access to them at all times, subject to certain stipulations. Moslems were forbidden to carry out the dhikr ceremony or even to enter this part of the Masjid, while Jews were allowed to perform Jewish devotions next to the Wall. Moreover, to prevent annoyance or riots in any other way; while no political speeches or demonstrations near the Wall were to be allowed, The Buraq Wall was completely invaded by the military forces of Israel. The maintenance of the Wall itself was entrusted to the Chief Rabbinate, by removing from the consultation of the Supreme Moslem Council. The previous sites used by Jews for mourning the destruction of their alleged Temple, during periods when access to the city was prohibited to them, lay to the east, on the Mount of Olives and in the Kidron Valley below it. From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to have rights regarding the wall were done by several Jews, but none of them was successful. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish and Muslim communities, being worried that the wall could be used to further Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and thus Islamicjerusalem. During the era of the British Mandate on Palestine, the visits of Jews to the Wall increased; by Muslims feeling the danger, these visits were resulted in the outbreak of a revolution on 23 August 1929, in which dozens of Muslims were killed and lots of momentous places were demolished by the Jews. After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the eastern portion of the city of Islamicjerusalem was subdued by Jordan. Under Jordanian control Jews were expelled from the Old City including the Jewish Quarter, and Jews were barred from entering the Old City for 19 years, effectively banning Jewish prayer at the site of Al-Buraq Wall. This period ended on June 10, 1967, when Israel invaded the site following the Six-Day War. Three days after establishing control over the Buraq Wall site, the Moroccan Quarter was bulldozed by Israeli authorities to create space for what is now the Buraq Wall plaza.

Judaization Attempts[edit]

The Moroccan (Mughrabi) Quarter nearby Al-Buraq Wall before the destruction, (Photo by Library of Congress)
Demolition of the Mughrabi Quarter Near Al-Buraq Wall after the 6 Days Wars in 1967 (Photo by Library of Congress)

The name of "Wailing Wall" which has ideological anxiety in the background aims to portray the Jewish practice of coming to the site to mourn and the destruction of their alleged temple. The term Western Wall and its variations are mostly used in a narrow sense for the section traditionally used by Jews for prayer; it has also been called the "Wailing Wall", referring to the practice of Jews weeping at the site where they consider the destruction of the Temples. During the period of Byzantine Empire (Christian Roman) rule over Jerusalem (324–638 CE), Jews were completely barred from Jerusalem except to attend, the day of national mourning for the Temples, and on this day the Jews would weep at their holy places. The term "Wailing Wall" was thus almost exclusively used by Christians, and was revived in the period of non-Jewish control between the establishment of Mandatory Palestine of British Rule in 1920 and 1967. By the following Israel's conquest during the 1967, the Buraq Wall came under Israeli control. The Harat al-Magharibah (the Moroccan Quarter), which was first constructed over 700 years ago in the age of the Ayyubids and Mamluks, was demolished by the Israeli state in the days immediately after it captured East Jerusalem. There were approximately 650 people and 100 families had home within the Moroccon Quarter on the eve of the June 1967 War. This former space represents a site where practices of ethnic cleansing and wholesale dispossession have been combined with Israeli discourses of "the sacred" as well as others which promote exclusivist, transhistorical notions of Jewish entitlement to the city. (Abowd, 2000)

Relation to the Foundation Stone[edit]

The Jews associate the holiness of this site referring to the hill of Moriah in their literature where the prophet Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac, and regarding it as the place where Solomon built the first Temple. In Judaism, the Western Wall is revered as the sole remnant of the Holy Temple. It has become a place of pilgrimage for Jews, as it is the closest permitted accessible site to the holiest spot in Judaism, namely the Foundation Stone, which lies in Muslims' Qubbat as-Sahra on the al-Aqsa Mosque enclave. Therefore, some rabbies believe that the rocky outcrop in the Dome of the Rock is the Foundation Stone. Some rabbis say it is located directly opposite the exposed section of the Western Wall, near the El-Ka'as fountain. Moishe Sternbuch states: "In truth they have erred, thinking that the stone upon they built their dome was in fact the Foundation Stone, however, most possibly, the Stone is located further to the south in the open space opposite the exposed section of the Western Wall." This spot was the site of the Kodesh Hakodashim/Holy of Holies where the Temple stood. Many contemporary rabbis believe that the rabbinic traditions were made in reference to the Temple Mount's Western Wall, which accordingly endows the Wall with inherent holiness. Another Midrash quotes a 4th-century scholar: "Rav Acha said that the Divine Presence has never departed from the Western Wall", and the Zohar similarly writes that "the Shekhinah/Divine Presence rests upon the Western Wall". Eighteenth-century scholar Jonathan Eybeschutz writes that "after the destruction of the Temple, God removed His Presence from His sanctuary and placed it upon the Western Wall where it remains in its holiness and honour". This belief in the Buraq Wall still continues today even more intensely than before. At the present time, since the Jews values this area as a synagogue, so a set of rules were established to be followed around Al-Buraq Wall. Today, at the entrance to the Al-Buraq Wall, Jews hung large warning boards stating many rules that people must abide when entering this area. Especially on Saturdays, it is forbidden to enter the area with electronic devices, including cameras, which infringe on the sanctity of the Sabbath. There was once an old custom of removing one's shoes upon approaching the Wall. Over the years the custom of standing barefoot at the Wall has ceased, as there is no need to remove one's shoes when standing by the Wall, because the plaza area is outside the sanctified precinct of the alleged Temple which is actually Al-Aqsa Mosque in its authentic form.

All in all, according to the Jewish narration, The Buraq Wall's holiness in Judaism is a result of its proximity to the supposed Temple Mount. Because of al-Masjid Al-Aqsa entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews claim to pray, and according to them the Foundation Stone, the holiest site in the Jewish faith, lies behind it. The Buraq Wall is considered to be closest to the former Holy of Holies, which makes it the most sacred site recognized by Judaism. Most Jews, religious and secular, consider the wall to be important to the Jewish people since it was built to hold the Second Temple. They consider the capture of the wall by Israel in 1967 as a historic event since it restored Jewish access to the site after a 19-year gap.

Construction and destruction[edit]

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, many biblical scholars have searched al-Aqsa enclave on which the first and second Jewish Temples were the target point. Nevertheless, it should be highlighted that the results of the excavations deduces that the earliest archaeological evidences in the present area of al-Aqsa Mosque cannot be dated prior to the Hellenistic period which is historically corresponds to 323 BC – 30 BC. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) However; according to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon's Temple was built atop what is known as the Temple Mount in the 10th century BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Jewish scholars narrates that Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Romans, along with the rest of Jerusalem, in 70 CE. On the other hand, taking into account the ancient masonry of the Wall; just over half the wall's total height, including its 7 courses from the Herodian street at the southern part of the western wall of al-Aqsa enclave, known al-Buraq Wall (or Jewish name, the Wailing Wall) is commonly believed to have been rebuilt by Herod the Great starting in 19 BCE, although recent excavations indicate that the work was not finished by the time Herod died in 4 BCE. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) The very large stone blocks of the lower courses are Herodian, the courses of medium-sized stones above them were added during the Umayyad Caliphate, while the small stones of the uppermost courses are of more recent date, especially from the Ottoman period. Excavations confirm that the present of al-Aqsa Mosque was a part of the city of Jerusalem at the time of Herod's region in Jerusalem in 37 BC. Moreover, within the light of the archeological evidences, the fact that eastern wall is more ancient than the western wall makes another contradiction in terms of Jews who assimilate the Buraq Wall as the “Wailing Wall” and ignore the eastern wall. (Al-Ratrout, 2004)

When the late Roman and Byzantine periods are concerned, after the christianization attempts of Helena (325 AD), Christian pilgrims is recorded that the site of al-Aqsa Mosque was ignored in Byzantine period. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) As an another important example, Madaba Map can be evaluated as a master sample which obviously shows the site of al-Aqsa remained far from the architectural progress during the time of late Byzantine. In 135 AD, when Hadrian adopted a new city plan which is called as Aelia Capitolina, al-Aqsa enclave was not included his interests due to the Temple of Jupiter. Even though the Byzantines that followed the outlines of Hadrian's Aelia raised the importance of the city by constructing new pilgrimage places and even city walls; eastern part of the city, the area of the present al-Aqsa enclave, remained to be extramural area until the early Muslim period of al-Masjid al-Aqsa by II Caliph Omar's fatih (liberation) of Islamicjerusalem in 637 AD. (Al-Ratrout, 2004) (Al-Tel, 2003) Within the consideration of the archaeology, Jewish temple in relation to present of al-Aqsa is highly problematic and even further; the alleged temple has not proved yet in the area of al-Aqsa enclave obviously. As a consequence, the fact Israeli scholars continue to try making their Solomon’s Temple allegation dominant is not only mythological but also a political issue internationally.

Conclusion[edit]

Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Jews were enabled to stand before the Wall and cry over the destruction of their alleged temple, however by the British Balfour Declaration of 1917, as time passed, they claimed that Al-Buraq Wall was a part of their alleged temple. By the Islamic tolerance, the Jews were allowed to become a part of the city after the struggles they faced, which did not mean Al-Buraq Wall was permitted as a place of worship of the so-called “Jewish temple”. Historical documents prove that Britain, which was the Mandatory colonial power in Palestine, obviously declared in its White Paper issued in November 1928 that al-Buraq Wall and al-Aqsa enclave belong to Muslims. Although the Jews admitted to the Committee of the League of Nations in 1929 that they do not claim a right of ownership to Al-Buraq Wall; by Israeli occupation of the Old City in Jerusalem in 1967, the direction straggled and al-Buraq Wall was begun to be identified as a remnant of the Jewish Temple. The Committee of the League of Nations recommended in 1930, to allow the Jews to pray there, in order to keep them quiet. However, it did not acknowledge that the wall belongs to them.

References[edit]

Abowd, T. (2000) Institute for Palestine Studies, “The Moroccan Quarter: A History of the Present”, Available at: https://oldwebsite.palestine-studies.org/jq/fulltext/78159 (Accessed 17.04.2020)

Al-Ratrout, H.F., (2004) The architectural development of al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamic Jerusalem in the early Islamic period: sacred architecture in the shape of the “Holy,” Monograph on Islamic Jerusalem studies. Al-Maktoum Institute Academic Press, Dundee.

Al-Ratrout, Haithem F. (2013). "The Second Mosque On The Earth That Islamicjerusalem Forgot Revealing The Ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque". Journal of Islamicjerusalem Studies Al-Tel, O.I., (2003) The First Islamic Conquest of Aelia (Islamic Jerusalem). Al-Maktoum Institute Academic Press, Dundee.

El-Awaisi, K.A., (2007) Mapping Islamicjerusalem: A Rediscovery of Geographical Boundaries, Monograph on Islamicjerusalem studies. Al-Maktoum Institute Academic Press, Dundee.

Nor, Mohd Roslan Mohd (2011). "ORIENTALISTS' VIEW ON THE NIGHT JOURNEY: AN ANALYSIS". Journal of Islamicjerusalem Studies

Nor, M. Roslan M. (2006). "lslamicjerusalem: The Land of the Night Journey and Ascension". Journal of Islamicjerusalem Studies

Syed Abul Ala Maududi, Islamicity, (2020) “Isra and Miraj: The Miraculous Night Journey", Available at: https://www.islamicity.org/5843/isra-and-miraj-the-miraculous-night-journey/ (Accessed 17.04.2020)

The Palestinian Information Center,” Al-Buraq Wall: Targeted Historical Identity”, Available at: https://english.palinfo.com/26596 (Accessed 21.04.2020)

The Wisdom of Kabbalah, Available at: http://www.kabbalah.info/eng/content/view/frame/110127?/eng/content/view/full/110127&main (Accessed 17.04.2020)