Al-Jami’ al-Aqsa

Al-Jami' al-Aqsa refers to the rectangular building with a ceiling and seven porticoes (area 80 * 55 meters), located nearly in the middle of the southern wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque which covers an area of around 144 dunoms. The first stage of building al-Aqsa is attributed to Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, after clearing the area of al-Aqsa Mosque of debris and dirt and uncovering the Holy Rock. None of the remnants of al-Umari mosque – the first al-Jami' al-Aqsa – remain now.

Some attributed the next stage of building Al-Aqsa to ‘Abed al-Malik ibn Marwan (65-86 Hijri / 705-785 AD), while others attributed it to al-Walid (86 – 96 Hijri / 705-715 AD). Others adopted a reconciliatory approach, saying that ‘Abed al-Malik started the project and al-Walid continued it. Similar to the case of the Dome of the Rock, Al-Jami' Al-Aqsa – throughout its long history- was sponsored by caliphs, princes, and kings, and after a series of earthquakes, al-Jami' al-Aqsa was maintained and renovated.

It seems that the planning of the current al-Jami' al-Aqsa, i.e. the seven porticoes, was the result of multiple architectural developments that were done over various historical periods. In the era of the Franks (the Crusaders), several repairs were made to al-Jami' al-Aqsa and changed its features, but Salah al-Din restored the mosque to its original state, renovated its niche and brought over the Nour al-Din Zinki pulpit. Construction, renovation and additions continued on al-Jami’ al-Aqsa until it reached its current design and shape.