Al-Isra and the “Temple” in the Islamic Sources: A Response to Sam Shamoun, Part II
Originally Posted on the Quran and Bible Blog
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”
– The Quran, Surah Al-Isra, 17:1
In this article, we will respond to Sam Shamoun’s ramblings in response to the article Al-Isra and the ‘Temple’ in the Islamic Sources – A Response to Sam Shamoun.
Right from the start, Shamoun engages in the same childish chest-thumping that he is well-known and ridiculed for:
“Time for me to expose quranbibleblog’s utter dishonesty and shameless perversion of his own sources.”
Oooh, I’m sooo scared! There, now that I have brushed aside Shamoun’s chest-thumping, let’s get into the actual response. To begin, he refers back to Ibn Ishaq (emphasis in the original):
“I have rarely met a Muslim who could so disgracefully pervert what his own citations say, especially one who thinks he can get away with it. Even though Ibn Ishaq CLEARLY IDENTIFIES masjid al-haram AS AN ACTUAL BUILDING, namely the Kabah, AND FURTHER IDENTIFIES masjid al-aqsa AS THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM, the neophyte shamelessly claims that Ibn Ishaq’s statements do not prove that he was referring to an actual temple or masjid, but may have been speaking of the site where the temple once stood! This is why this greenhorn will never debate me in a live exchange, but chooses to hide behind comments sections or articles where he can get away with writing 50,000 word posts full of lies, distortions and nonsense like this.”
Here is what Ibn Ishaq wrote about Al-Isra:
“…the apostle was carried by night from the mosque at Mecca to the Masjid al-Aqsa, which is the temple of Aelia…”
So essentially, Shamoun’s entire argument is based on the assumption that since the “mosque at Mecca” (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) has a building (the Kaaba), then somehow by default, it must mean that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa must also be a building. Besides the laughable non-sequitur that this argument is, it has already been shown that a “masjid” does NOT have to be a building. So Shamoun is just repeating his silly argument based on nothing but his own illogical premise.
But it gets worse for Shamoun. The fact is that even Al-Masjid Al-Haram does NOT simply refer to a building (i.e. the Kaaba), but rather the entire compound. Not only that, but the entire Haram is even larger. The current size of the mosque is around 356,000 square meters. The Haram, in which fighting and hunting are forbidden, is even larger (see further below for more details). So Shamoun is barking up the wrong tree. He clearly has no clue as to the complexity of the word “masjid”. It does not have to be just a building.
What makes this more problematic for Shamoun is that if we use his own silly logic, his argument refutes itself! He claims that since Al-Masjid Al-Haram is a “building”, it automatically means that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa must also be a “building”. But now we have seen that the former is actually much more than just the Kaaba (i.e. the entire compound). So by applying his own logic, we can then assume that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is actually more than just the “temple” (i.e., the entire compound)!
Shamoun continued on his diatribe and stated:
“What makes this all the more laughable is that the neophyte argues that the word masjid has a complex range of meaning in order to argue that Q. 17:1 is referring to the site of the Temple, but not the actual building. And yet here he changes this tactic and argues for a more nuanced meaning, namely, mosque. Notice how he argues that, since masjid al-aqsa refers to the Kabah, the word masjid cannot mean mosque since there was no literal mosque in Mecca at the time! Talk about question begging and wanting to have your cake and eat it too! If we keep in mind that the word masjid refers to ANY BUILDING that is taken as a place of worship, this means that the Kabah can be called a masjid since Muhammadans took that building as their prayer direction and the place to visit in order to perform their pagan rituals. This again highlights the neophyte’s circular reasoning, as well as the post hoc nature of his rebuttal, since he erroneously assumes that the Kabah does not qualify as a masjid since it isn’t a mosque, even though a mosque is nothing more than a building erected for the worship of Allah, which is exactly what Muslims claim the Kabah was!”
Shamoun again shows that he has no idea what he is talking about. First of all, he has yet to refute the clear fact that the Arabic word masjid does not have to be a literal building.
Second, the English word “mosque” is a translation of the Arabic word masjid. In other words, the word “mosque” also does not have to mean a literal building (of course, it can mean that as well), per the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching that “the earth is a mosque”.
Third, as already mentioned, Al-Masjid Al-Haram included not just the Kaaba but the entire compound. Yes, the Kaaba is part of the “mosque”, but so is the entire compound. This is demonstrated by Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:191, which states:
“And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at
Al-Masjid Al-Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.”
This verse prohibits fighting against the pagan Arabs in Al-Masjid Al-Haram. Does that mean that the Muslims were prohibited from fighting just in the area of the Kaaba or inside the Kaaba? No! In his commentary on Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:191, Ibn Kathir explained that Al-Masjid Al-Haram refers to the “sanctuary at Makkah [Mecca]”. He also quotes some narrations from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which drive home this point (emphasis ours):
“Allah has made this city a sanctuary since the day He created the heavens and the earth. So, it is a sanctuary by Allah’s decree till the Day of Resurrection. Fighting in it was made legal for me only for an hour in the daytime. So, it (i.e., Makkah) is a sanctuary, by Allah’s decree, from now on until the Day of Resurrection. Its trees should not be cut, and its grass should not be uprooted. If anyone mentions the fighting in it that occurred by Allah’s Messenger, then say that Allah allowed His Messenger, but did not allow you.”
Another narration, which Ibn Kathir did not mention, but which further demonstrates that Al-Masjid Al-Haram means more than just the Kaaba itself is the following:
“Narrated Aisha: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Five kinds of animals are harmful and could be killed in the Haram (Sanctuary). These are the crow, the kite, the scorpion, the mouse and the rabid dog.””
If we were to use Shamoun’s laughable logic, the meaning of this hadith would be that it was forbidden to kill all other animals (i.e., anything other than the five kinds of animals listed above) only if they were outside the Kaaba! Of course, the real meaning is that it is forbidden to kill any animals other than the five kinds above within the confines of the boundaries of the Haram, which includes the Kaaba (see the image below), since fighting and killing are generally forbidden there. This completely refutes Shamoun’s incoherent babble.
Also, in the Quran, the Kaaba is referred to as Bayt Al-Haram (Sacred House), not Al-Masjid Al-Haram:
“Allah has made the Kaaba (الْكَعْبَةَ), the Sacred House (الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ), standing for the people and [has sanctified] the sacred months and the sacrificial animals and the garlands [by which they are identified].”
Moreover, in verse 2 of the same surah, we see both Bayt Al-Haram and Al-Masjid Al-Haram used, which establishes that the former is part of the latter:
“O you who have believed, do not violate the rites of Allah or [the sanctity of] the sacred month or [neglect the marking of] the sacrificial animals and garlanding [them] or [violate the safety of] those coming to the Sacred House (الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ) seeking bounty from their Lord and [His] approval. But when you come out of ihram, then [you may] hunt. And do not let the hatred of a people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram (الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ) lead you to transgress.”
Finally, the Kaaba is also referred to as Bayt Al-Muharram in Surah Ibrahim, verse 37:
Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House (بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ), our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.”
The verse mentions Prophet Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) prayer, including how he settled his descendants “near” the “Sacred House” (i.e., the valley of Mecca). This again refers to the Kaaba, which was built by Ibrahim and Ishmael (peace be upon them). So, it is clear that Al-Masjid Al-Haram is much bigger than just the Kaaba. The latter is part of the former.
Next, Shamoun attempted to counter my point about Ibn Kathir’s narration about the Prophet “entering” the mosque in Jerusalem (emphasis in the original):
“I am starting to get embarrassed for the greenhorn. Notice the blatant dishonesty, “… Notice that Ibn Kathir specifically referred to the Prophet “entering” the “sanctuary”, and not Bayt al-Maqdis…”
All I can say here is, WOW! The dishonesty is appalling to say the least since it is clear that Ibn Kathir WAS IDENTIFYING THE SANCTUARY AS BAYT AL-MAQDIS!”
Shamoun’s woes are getting worse. Notice how he has again tried to argue on the basis of Surah 17:1 that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa must have been a literal building, all because Al-Masjid Al-Haram has a literal building (i.e., the Kaaba). He doesn’t seem to realize the irony of his own argument by appealing to Ibn Kathir! Let us make it clear for him, so he can see the light. Here is what Ibn Kathir wrote (emphasis ours):
“The truth is that the Prophet was taken on the Night Journey when he was awake, not in a dream, and he went from Makkah to Bayt Al-Maqdis riding on Al-Buraq. […]
Then he came out of Bayt Al-Maqdis and rode on Al-Buraq back to Makkah in the darkness of the night.”
So again using Shamoun’s own methodology, we can say that since Ibn Kathir said that the Prophet traveled from “Makkah” (the city) to “Bayt al-Maqdis”, then by default, the latter would also have to be a city! Ding, ding, ding!
But this methodology is actually not needed anyway. As explained in the previous article, the context shows that the Prophet came to Bayt al-Maqdis, tied up Al-Buraq, and then entered the Haram Al-Shareef sanctuary (i.e., he came to Jerusalem—Bayt al-Maqdis—and then entered the mosque itself).
Shamoun then stated (emphasis in the original):
“In other words, it is evident to any honest person that the sanctuary that Muhammad entered IS THE SAME BAYT AL-MAQDIS THAT HE IS SAID TO HAVE COME OUT FROM, a fact that even the greenhorn sees since he writes, “Finally, Shamoun quoted Ibn Kathir to show that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) “entered the Sanctuary” to pray and later “came out of” Bayt-Maqdis:” Only someone robbed of any honesty would try to distinguish the two, and we know why he has to do this. The plain reading of the Islamic sources expose Muhammad as a fraud who lied about visiting a non-existent temple, which has now come back to expose him for the fraud that he truly was.”
He just doesn’t get it! It is clear from the context of Ibn Kathir’s explanation that Bayt al-Maqdis refers to the city of Jerusalem. The Prophet then entered the “sanctuary” and offered prayers there. Later on, he left Bayt al-Maqdis and returned to Mecca.
This is further proven by another hadith in which the Prophet clearly referred to Jerusalem with the phrase Bayt al-Maqdis (emphasis ours):
“I came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) during the campaign of Tabuk, when he was in a tent made of leather, so I sat in front of the tent. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Enter, O ‘Awf.’ I said, ‘All of me, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘All of you.’ Then he said: ‘O ‘Awf, remember six things (that will occur) before the Hour comes, one of which is my death.’ I was very shocked and saddened at that. He said: ‘Count that as the first. Then (will come) the conquest of Bayt al-Maqdis…”
Contextually, “Bayt al-Maqdis” in this hadith cannot mean anything other than the city of Jerusalem or perhaps the region of Palestine in general, and not just the mosque. This brings us back to the point I made in the previous article. In order to understand the meaning of the phrase “Bayt al-Maqdis” in a given source (since it had multiple meanings), one must examine the context and whether the statement was made by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or one of his companions. In the hadith above, the Prophet referred to the conquest of “Bayt al-Maqdis”, which in context can only mean the city of Jerusalem or perhaps the region of Palestine (Greater Syria).
Finally, to finish off his diatribe and misquotes of Ibn Kathir, Shamoun repeated the same silly non-sequitur about the “door” of the “building”:
“This also refutes his desperate and pathetic attempt of identifying the door of the sanctuary with the gates of the city, since it is clear from Ibn Kathir’s citation that the door Muhammad entered into was the one leading inside the building itself.”
Um, no it doesn’t Sammy! The Temple Mount has always had gates from which people could enter the compound. There is no reason to assume that a “building” (i.e., the temple) had to be there.
Next, Shamoun attempted to rescue his failed attempt to misquote Yusuf Ali as well (emphasis in the original):
“Does this guy really think he can get away with such a shameless misrepresentation of why I quoted Ali? The reason why I quoted Ali WAS TO PROVE THAT EVEN THIS SCHOLAR ADMITTED THAT THERE WAS NO TEMPLE DURING MUHAMMAD’S SUPPOSED JOURNEY THERE, AND THAT THE BUILDING WHICH WAS LATER CALLED MASJID AL-AQSA DIDN’T EXIST AT THAT TIME EITHER! Here’s what I actually wrote for all to see:”
First of all, Shamoun is assuming that somehow the Arabs would not have known that there was no temple in Jerusalem at that time, despite the fact that they regularly traveled there with their caravans! It would not have been a wise thing for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to falsely claim that he went to Jerusalem since his detractors would naturally have asked him for specific details.
Second, I showed very clearly that Shamoun provided a dishonest and incomplete assessment of what Yusuf Ali actually said. He very conveniently ignored the part about a “masjid” being any “place of prayer”, as well as Yusuf Ali’s clear statement that the “Farthest Mosque” refers to the “site” of the temple. Shamoun has no response to this, so what does he do? He simply repeats the same idiotic argument, USING ALL CAPS, AS IF THAT STRENGTHENS HIS ARGUMENT! All it really shows is that he is a loud-mouth (even when typing on his keyboard)!
Shamoun then stated:
“This explains why Ali had to argue that masjid here refers to the site, and not a building, since he knew that no such building existed during Muhammad’s time. Note his circular reasoning when he claims that masjid al-aqsa, “… MUST refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon…” MUST mean the site? Why must this be the case? Because of his circular reasoning that Muhammad was a true prophet who could not make such a foolish blunder!”
Notice once again the non-sequitur. He has yet to prove that there was a belief among the Arabs at the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) that a temple still existed. Yusuf Ali correctly explained that the “Farthest Mosque” was the site of the temple (i.e., Al-Haram Al-Shareef or the Temple Mount), and also explained that a “mosque” is any “place of prayer”. Shamoun just cannot get this through his head, as it would require him to admit that he is wrong about something.
He then hilariously fell back on the silly argument about Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa being a “building” just because the Kaaba is also a building:
“Moreover, Ali’s citation actually refutes the neophyte and confirms my point since he candidly admits that masjid al-haram does refer to AN ACTUAL BUILDING, namely the Kabah, and not merely to a site or place. Therefore, since the word masjid in its first occurrence clearly refers to A PHYSICAL BUILDING, then this means that its second occurrence in the same passage must also refer to a physical building, and not merely a site or place. It is only the circular reasoning of this neophyte that leads him to assume otherwise.”
Besides having already refuted this methodology by showing how it backfires on Shamoun (see above), it would be pertinent to ask this loud-mouth fanatic to explain why it is required for the end of the destination to be a building just because the origin was a building? Suppose I went on a vacation and described it in the following way:
“I left my house in the morning and traveled to Tokyo.”
Would this statement imply that “Tokyo” is someone else’s “house”? Or would the reader be able to assume that Tokyo refers to the city? Hopefully, other people are smarter than Shamoun and can see the fallacy in his argument, even if he cannot.
Next, Shamoun attempted to respond to my addendum in the previous article:
“If anyone is confused it’s the neophyte due to the incoherent babble he produced. In the first place, either masjid in Q. 17:1 refers to a building or it doesn’t. The greenhorn still wants to have his cake and eat it too, but it ain’t going to happen.”
Oh, Shamoun, whatever will we do with you? As I made clear in the article, the addendum was only exploring other possible explanations, even though they are not needed. Here is what I said (emphasis added):
“…the possibility of a partially-rebuilt temple is an interesting one. Even though it is certainly not necessary in order to refute Shamoun, it could shed further light on some of the descriptions of Al-Isra in the Islamic sources.”
In other words, if there was a partially-rebuilt temple, it could explain the different ways the Isra was described in the Islamic sources. I am referring to the different terms that were used by the Companions as well as later scholars like Ibn Ishaq. But as I said, this was just an addendum and was not needed to refute Shamoun.
The rest of this article is in response to the comments Shamoun made on Paul Williams’ blog (which he included in the blog article to which we are responding). In one of his comments, Shamoun issued a “challenge” (I know, I know…he probably issues a challenge like fifty times a day):
“Second, here are all the Quranic references to masjid: 2:114, 2:144, 2:149-150, 2:187, 2:191, 2:196, 2:217; 5:2; 7:29, 7:31, 8:34, 9:7, 9:17-19, 9:28, 9:107-108; 17:1, 17:7; 18:21, 22:25; 22:40; 48:25; 48:27; 72:18.
I challenge the greenhorn to quote a single verse where the Quran employs the term masjid to reference something other than an actual building where people gather to worship his god. The problem is that he can’t show that and the fact that he candidly admitted that masjid al-haram in Q. 17:1 (despite all of his incoherent about the Kabah and the masjid which was built later) means that is merely question begging on his part to argue that the second occurrence of the word masjid in the very same verse doesn’t refer to a building but to a place.”
Poor Sammy! This “challenged” was already answered above when I showed that Al-Masjid Al-Haram is the entire compound and not just the Kaaba.
Another answer is that the Quran states:
“Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates – for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills.”
And what Arabic word is used here for the English word “prostrates”? It is يَسْجُدُ which also has the same root as the word “masjid” (a place of prostration). In other words, all creation prostrates to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He), which makes the whole Earth, and indeed the whole universe, a “place of prostration”.
Shamoun then stated:
“And I hope he isn’t stupid enough to go to the hadiths, since the ahadith prove that masjid al-aqsa in Q. 17:1 IS AN ACTUAL BUILDING, not merely a place or site!
Qaza’ah reported: I heard a hadith from Abu Sa’id and it impressed me (very much), so I said to him: Did you hear it (yourself) from Allah’s Messenger? Thereupon he said: (Can) I speak of anything about Allah’s Messenger (which I did not bear? He said: I heard Allah’s Messenger saying: Do not set out on a journey (for religious devotion) but for THE THREE MOSQUES-for this mosque of mine (at Medina) the Sacred Mosque (at Mecca), AND THE MOSQUE AL-AQSA (Bait al-Maqdis), and I heard him saying also: A woman should not travel for two days duration, but only when there is a Mahram with her or her husband. (Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 3099)
Abu Huraira reported it directly from Allah’s Apostle that he said: Do not undertake journey but to THREE MOSQUES: this mosque of mine, the Mosque of al-Haram AND THE MOSQUE OF AQSA (Bait al-Maqdis). (Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 3218)
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: One should undertake journey to THREE MOSQUES: the mosque of the Ka’ba, my mosque, AND THE MOSQUE OF ELIA (Bait al-Maqdis). (Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 3220)
Since the mosques in Mecca and Medina refer to actual physical buildings, then the mosque al-aqsa must also be an actual building as well. Not even this greenhorn will be able to get around the plain and obvious meaning of these narrations, all of which clearly expose Muhammad as a false prophet.”
Here we go again! He STILL cannot get it through his thick skull that a “mosque” does NOT have to be a building! In addition, just because the mosques in Mecca and Medina “refer to actual physical buildings” (see below for a discussion of this), it does not automatically follow that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa “must also be an actual building as well”. Not only that, but we have already seen that Al-Masjid Al-Haram was more than just the Kaaba (the building), but in fact, included the surrounding land as well.
As for Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, it was originally built as an open-air mosque. There was no dome or any type of roof at all. Al-Masjid Al-Haram also did not, and never has, had any roof. In other words, if we once again use Shamoun’s logic, since neither the Al-Haram Mosque nor the Prophet’s Mosque had roofs, then the Al-Aqsa Mosque also could not have a roof! And this is exactly how it was and has always been. The Temple Mount never had a roof, except for the Temple itself!
And let us humiliate Shamoun even more and expose him as the charlatan and pseudo-scholar that he is. He has been harping about how the Kaaba is a building (well, duh!), but he has overlooked one major detail. Ironically, the ahadith (to which Shamoun has selectively appealed to) help expose Shamoun’s ignorance. In actual fact, the “Kaaba” does not only include the literal cubed building itself. There is a section facing the northwest wall known as Al-Hatim (also known as Hajr Ishmael or Al-Hijr) which is not physically part of the Kaaba itself but is simply a D-shaped semicircular wall. Here is a picture:
And yet, it is established in the ahadith that this section is STILL considered part of the Kaaba itself, even though it is not physically part of it:
“It was narrated that Aishah said: ‘I wanted to enter the House and pray therein, so the Messenger of Allah took me by the hand and took me into the Hijr and said: ‘If you want to enter the House, then pray here, for it is part of the House, but your people made it too small when they built it.’’”
But it gets even worse for Shamoun! Notice that Al-Hijr is clearly part of the Kaaba, and of course, part of Al-Masjid Al-Haram as well. We know from the Quran and the ahadith about Al-Isra that the Prophet was taken from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. But from where was he taken specifically? Here is the answer (emphasis ours):
“Narrated `Abbas bin Malik: Malik bin Sasaa said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) described to them his Night Journey saying, “While I was lying in Al-Hatim or Al-Hijr, suddenly someone came to me and cut my body open from here to here.” […] Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me [Al-Buraq].”
And as the Quran states, the Prophet was taken from this place (i.e., Al-Hijr of the Kaaba) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. So it is established yet again that a place of prostration (i.e., masjid), in this case Al-Hijr, does NOT have to be part of a literal building! Hopefully, this will clear up Shamoun’s confusion once and for all.
Continuing with his diatribe, Shamoun stated (emphasis in the original):
“[s]ince he admits that masjid al-haram is a reference to the Kabah, and since the Kabah is an actual physical budiling [sic], this means that the word masjid does not refer to a place, BUT TO A PHYSICAL BUILDING WHICH MUSLIMS TOOK AS A HOUSE OF WORSHIP!
Moreover, since the word “mosque” is nothing more than the English rendering of masjid, and since masjid refers to a physical building which Muslims congregate at in order to worship their god, then this shows the utter futility of this Muhammadan from trying to disassociate the Kabah from being a mosque since the Kabah is indeed a mosque!”
Oy vei! In light of what has already been demonstrated, we can see that Shamoun is hopeless. The guy just does not want to accept reality!
The Kaaba is part of Al-Masjid Al-Haram! The mosque does not begin and end with the Kaaba. Rather, it includes the land within the city of Mecca and the Kaaba itself.
Shamoun then tried to respond to the scholarly evidence I had provided:
“Al-Aqsa’ is a name for THE WHOLE MOSQUE WHICH IS SURROUNDED BY THE WALL…for THE BUILDING that exists in the southern part of the Mosque and the other ones SUCH AS THE DOME OF THE ROCK and the corridors and OTHER [BUILDINGS] are novel…”
So his own source admits that the BUILDINGS, not simply its surrounding area, are the mosque, which again proves that masjid al-aqsa in Q. 17:1 doesn’t reference a place, BUT AN ACTUAL PHYSICAL BUILDING. It is evident why the Muslim authority he cited including the entire area within the definition of masjid al-aqsa. Since they were all connected and/or attached to the physical buildings themselves, the Muslims therefore decided to extend the meaning to encompass the whole area surrounding these buildings.”
Shamoun’s babbling, which is completely devoid of any reason, is simply amazing! He seems to have problems with reading comprehension.
Notice that the source states that the mosque is “surround by the wall”. He then said that the “buildings” (i.e., the Dome of the Rock or the “Al-Aqsa” mosque) were “novel”, which means they were “new”. In other words, they were built later and were given the names they are now known by. Before that, the entire compound was known as Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.
Also, if Shamoun had not been so lazy and actually read the source, he would have seen that he was referring to the entire compound (emphasis ours):
“[t]he paragraph that preceded the definition of Al-Aqsa Mosque was dedicated to its measurement. Twice, the measurements of the Mosque were taken under the supervision of Al-Hanbali to make sure that they were accurate. He mentioned that the length of the Mosque was measured from the southern wall to the northern corridor near Bab Al-Asbat (i.e. Lions’ Gate), and the width was measured from the wall overlooking the cemetery of Bab Al-Rahmah (i.e. Golden Gate) to the western corridor, beneath the Tankaziyyah School. In both cases, the width of the walls themselves was excluded.”
This point is also emphasized by Yehia Wazeri, professor of Islamic architecture at the University of Cairo:
“…it [Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa] is established upon Mount Moriah, occupying an area of approximately 150 acres (one acre equals 1000m2). It is encompassed by a stone wall, the western side of which is 490 m, the eastern 474 m, the northern 321 m, and the south 283 m…”
Professor Wazeri also explains that the term Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa was always understood by the scholars of Islam to mean the entire compound:
“…the whole mosque is unroofed with the exception of the building of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Musalla Al-Jami`, which is known by the public as Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. The remaining area, however, is a yard of the mosque. This is agreed upon by scholars and historians, and accordingly, the doubled reward for performing prayer therein is attained if the prayer is performed in any part of the area encompassed by the wall…”
The famous Islamic scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him), echoed this sentiment:
“Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the name for the whole of the place of worship that was built by Sulayman (‘alaihis salaam), though some people have begun to give the name of ‘al-Aqsa’ – ‘the farthest’ – to the prayer-place which was built by ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khattaab (radiAllaahu ‘anhu) at the front of it.”
So again we see that the “mosque” includes the entire compound within the confines of the walls of Al-Haram Al-Shareef compound. Shamoun is either being willfully stupid by denying these facts or he is just too arrogant to admit that he is wrong.
In the next section, Shamoun attempted to reply to the Biblical evidence I presented in the comments section Paul Williams’ blog. My argument was that the Bible also does not require an actual building to be present on the site of the temple in order for it to refer to the temple. I appealed to Ezra 1:5 and 2:68. Here are the verses (emphasis ours):
“Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.”
“When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site.”
In these verses, the temple is referred to as the “house of the Lord” or bayith Yĕhovah (notice the similarity to the Arabic word bayt). It is made clear that it needs to be rebuilt, and yet it is still called the “house of the Lord”. Verse 68 even says that the Jews “arrived at the house of the Lord” even though it had yet to be rebuilt! Why is it called a “house” that they are going to, even though it has not yet been built? The answer comes from the commentary in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:
“In the writer’s mind ‘the house of the Lord’ is always standing at Jerusalem.”
So even though the physical temple was not there, it was still called the “house of the Lord”. Now let us see Shamoun’s mental gymnastics:
“Being so stupid he doesn’t realize that he just buried his profit further down the hole. If the phrase “the house of the Lord” does mean the actual temple itself, THEN HE JUST PROVED MY POINT THAT MASJID AL-AQSA CANNOT REFER TO A PLACE, BUT TO AN IMAGINARY BUILDING THAT HIS PROFIT FOOLISHLY THOUGHT WAS STILL IN EXISTENCE!”
Shamoun is still stuck on the foolish argument that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa must be a physical building! But as I have already shown, this is not the case. One can call something a “mosque” and yet still not mean that it is a physical building with windows or a roof. And as we can see, the Bible has the same understanding. The temple, even when it was just mere ruins, was still called the “house of the Lord”. We know this is true because Ezra 1 clearly states that the “house” had to be rebuilt. This can only mean the temple, and not the site:
“Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord (bayith Yĕhovah)…”
“Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord (bayith Yĕhovah) in Jerusalem.”
Shamoun then stated rather comically:
“The illiterate jihadi is simply committing the tu quoque fallacy, i.e. the “you too” fallacy. He assumes that if the Bible contains a similar blunder like his book of porn then this somehow explains away the egregious blunder of his god and profit. The problem is that finding a similar in the Bible doesn’t explain away the error in the Quran. It simply means that both books are wrong.”
He still doesn’t get it! The purpose of referring to the Bible was to show that in both Islamic and Jewish tradition, a holy place does not have to be a physical building in order for it to be called a “mosque” or a “temple”. It’s not an “error” on the part of the Quran or the Bible, it’s an error on the part of ignoramuses like Shamoun. He is so full of himself that he cannot understand this simple point. The illiterate pseudo-scholar with a GED should look at himself in the mirror before pointing his finger at other people.
To get out of the corner that he was in, Shamoun made the following argument:
“Notice the reference to ITS SITE, which makes abundantly clear that this is speaking of the the [sic] rebuilding of the temple in the very place that the former temple once stood. Now let’s see what happens when we quote the next chapter:
“When the seventh month arrived, and the Israelites were in their towns, the people gathered as one in Jerusalem. Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers BEGAN TO BUILD THE ALTAR of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. THEY SET UP THE ALTAR ON ITS FOUNDATION and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the LORD even though they feared the surrounding peoples. They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. After that, they offered the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month and for all the LORD’s appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to the LORD. On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, EVEN THOUGH THE FOUNDATION OF THE LORD’S TEMPLE HAD NOT YET BEEN. They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization given them by King Cyrus of Persia.” Ezra 3:1-7
Hence, the immediate and over all contexts make it clear that. This is unlike Q. 17:1 since there is nothing contextually to suggest it is referring to a place as opposed to a building. Only someone demonized like his profit could butcher sources the way this thug does. What makes it all the more shocking is that he even has the audacity to think he can get away with it.”
So he is arguing that the phrase “the house of the Lord” is simply referring to the “place” or the “site” rather than the building itself. We have already seen why this is false.
But Shamoun’s woes are about to get worse. As already shown, the phrase bayith Yĕhovah means “the house of the Lord”. Does it mean the temple, as I have argued, or the “site” as Shamoun has argued? Let us go to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to find out:
So the meaning of bayith Yĕhovah is NOT the “site” of the temple but to the temple itself. Notice that the Hebrew spelling is:
And what is the spelling in the book of Ezra? Exactly the same! Here is a screenshot of the word-by-word breakdown of Ezra 1:3:
And here is the screenshot for Ezra 2:68:
Shamoun should just throw in the towel and not let his foolish pride make things worse for him.
Finally, Shamoun stated:
“That is exactly not your point, because the example you gave refutes your entire “rebuttal” since, unlike Q. 17:1, the context of Ezra 2:68 makes it clear that it is referring to the site where the temple once stood. Only someone so wickedly dishonest could employ such deceitful tactics to defend the blunder of the Quran. Therefore, let me repeat my point once again. Unlike the context of Ezra 2:68, there is nothing in the context of Q. 17:1 that even remotely suggests that masjid al-aqsa refers to a place. As the evidence I have presented has proven, and which you have yet to refute, masjid al-aqsa can only refer to a physical building, one which did not exist at the time of your profit. Therefore, this is a blunder that exposes your profit for the fraud that he truly was. So Oy vei is right! And ROFL right back at you since you and your profit just got trounced!”
The childish nature of Shamoun’s response is plainly evident. The guy has yet to make a coherent argument, and has done nothing but throw childish insults. Besides that, he only cherry-picks and misquotes different sources and then makes astounding leaps of logic using nothing but non-sequiturs and his own personal opinions. The man is a fool!
And then he wrote:
“I have more for your burial in the next reply.”
Oooh, I am so scared! I am looking forward to your next bumbling attempt to “bury” me. InshaAllah, I will demolish that attempt as well. And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 This is from the Saheeh International translation.
 As stated in the previous article, the Arabic word masjid means “any place in which one performs the act of [sujood]”. Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared that “[a]ll of the earth is a Masjid…” (https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/14/al-isra-and-the-temple-in-the-islamic-sources-a-response-to-sam-shamoun/)
 Surah Al-Maeda, 5:97.
Interestingly, Ibn Kathir explained in his commentary on this verse that the Kaaba (or the “Sacred House”) “…includes the entire sacred boundary” (http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=732&Itemid=60).
This once again demonstrates that there are complex meanings for terms like “Kaaba”, “Sacred House” or “Al-Masjid Al-Haram”. But pseudo-scholars like Shamoun like to lazily cherry-pick and misrepresent the meanings to suit their own biased agendas.
 Surah Al-Hajj, 22:18.
 Yehia Wazeri, “The Farthest Mosque or the Alleged Temple: An Analytic Study”, Journal of Islamic Architecture 2, no. 3 (June 2013), p. 133.
 Ezra 1:5.
 Ezra 2:68.
 Ezra 1:3. This the NIV translation. Notice that it translates bayith Yĕhovah as the “temple of the Lord” in this case, but in the others verses where the same phrase is used, it translates it as the “house of the Lord”. In other words, the meaning is the same!
 Ezra 1:5.
 To see actual errors in the Bible, and Shamoun’s failed attempts at explaining them, the reader can see the following articles:
To see Shamoun’s bumbling attempts to respond to these errors, see here: