What Is the Al-Aqsa Mosque?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Noble Sanctuary Online Guide, contains the following description of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (accessed Feb. 12, 2004):
“After completion of the Dome of the Rock, construction began at the site of the original timber mosque built in the time of ‘Umar. A vast congregational mosque rose up, accommodating more than five thousand worshippers. Originally commissioned by ‘Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, it was apparently completed by his son Al-Walid in 705 AD.
The building became known as Masjid al-Aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque, although in reality the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is considered Al-Aqsa Mosque, the entire precincts inviolable according to Islamic law. Every Friday prayer, the Al-Aqsa Mosque building overflows, with thousands of worshippers who must make their prayers outside in the courtyards of the vast open expanse of the Noble Sanctuary.
While the Dome of the Rock was constructed as a mosque to commemorate the Prophet’s Night Journey, the building known as Al-Aqsa Mosque became a centre of worship and learning, attracting great teachers from all over the world.
It has been modified several times to protect it from earthquakes, which sometimes occur in the area, and to adapt to the changing needs of the local population. The form of the present structure has remained essentially the same since it was reconstructed by the Khalif Al-Dhahir in 1033 AD. It is said that he did not alter it from the previous architecture except to narrow it on each side.”Feb. 12, 2004 - Noble Sanctuary Online Guide