Al-Isra and the “Temple” in the Islamic Sources: A Response to Sam Shamoun, Part III-C
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
This article is the finale of my three-part refutation of Sam Shamoun’s latest train-wreck. Here, I will respond to “Part 3” of Shamoun’s rebuttal.
Sam Shamoun – The Fraud, Act 3
Shamoun continues his laughable rebuttal by trying to twist the clear statements of the scholarly sources that I had previously cited. This just goes to show what a deceitful character and a complete fraud Shamoun truly is. He begins with the following commentary on Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway’s article The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Qur’an, Sunnah and Other Islamic Literary Sources” (the bold part is Shamoun’s commentary; the bold and letters in caps are his emphasis):
“Note what the following Muslim referenced by this greenhorn states:
“… It is quite remarkable that Mujir Al-Din Al-Hanbali, who wrote Al-Uns Al-Jalil fo Tarikh Al-Quds wal-Khalil in the year 900 AH/1495, when there were no political disputes regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque, offered the following definition
‘Verily, ‘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 (muhdatha).’””
One has to wonder if Shamoun really does have a serious problem with reading comprehension. How does this prove that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa “refers to a building”? Shamoun is just repeating the same inane babble which I already refuted in Part II. Mujir Al-Din Al-Hanbali clearly stated that “Al-Aqsa” refers to the mosque which is surrounded by the wall. As I stated in Part II:
“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.”
So this is what Al-Hanbali was saying. The “buildings” that are now present in the Noble Sanctuary (and are known as the “Dome of the Rock” and the “Al-Aqsa Mosque”) were new developments. In other words, they were “novel” (i.e., new) developments. That is what the word “novel” means. Before they were built, the entire compound was known as Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. This was confirmed by Al-Hanbali, as Abu Sway states (and as I pointed out in Part II; emphasis mine):
“[h]e [Al-Hanbali] 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.”
Furthermore, notice that in the quote that Shamoun appealed to, Al-Hanbali clearly stated that the “building” is within the MOSQUE! He stated (emphasis mine):
“…for the building that exists in the southern part of the Mosque…”
Thus, the entire compound was a mosque with smaller mosques built within. Shamoun needs to get this through his thick head.
Shamoun then went backwards in Abu Sway’s article and tried by some magical means of interpretation to again completely twist what Abu Sway was saying! Here is the quote as presented by Shamoun (emphasis his):
“Jerusalem or Bayt Al-Maqdis [House of the Holy] is, by definition, a holy place. It is included in verse 17:1, either by referring to the Al-Aqsa Mosque or to its precincts about which God said: “We did bless”. The great 14th century Muslim scholar, Ibn Kathir, said that Al-Aqsa Mosque is Bayt Al-Maqdis.5 Indeed, the “Al-Aqsa Mosque” and “Bayt Al-Maqdis” are used interchangeably whereby one of them is used as a metaphor of the other, as in the following hadith:
Maimuna said: “O Messenger of Allah! Inform us about Bayt Al-Maqdis!” He said: “It is the land where people will be gathered and resurrected [on the Day of Judgment]. Go (grammatically imperative!) and pray in it, for a prayer in it is the equivalent of a thousand prayers in other [mosques].” I said: “What if I couldn’t reach it?” He said: “Then you send a gift of oil to it in order to be lit in its lanterns, for the one who does so is the same like the one who has been there.” 6 The hadith shows that it is the religious duty of Muslims all over the world to maintain Al-Aqsa Mosque both physically and spiritually.
The relationship with Al-Aqsa Mosque is primarily fulfilled through acts of worship, but the physical maintenance of the Mosque is also part of the responsibility of all Muslims. The fulfillment of both duties will be impaired as long as Al-Aqsa Mosque remains under occupation! The truth of the matter is that under Israeli occupation, Muslims do not have free access to the Mosque. Those who are prevented from having freedom of worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque include, but not restricted to, all Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and occasional restrictions to Jerusalemite men younger than 45 years of age.
Since the miraculous Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad, al-Isra’ wa al-Mi`raj, took place more than fourteen centuries ago, Muslims have established a sublime and perpetual relationship with Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Prophet was taken from Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. This event marked a twining relation between the two mosques. The beginning of Surah Al-Isra’ (17:1) reminds Muslims and non-Muslims of this important event. (Mustafa Abu Sway, pp. 3-4; bold emphasis mine).”
Once again, one has to wonder if Shamoun really does have a problem with reading comprehension! None of this proves his point! In fact, Abu Sway clearly states on page 5 that (emphasis mine):
“Muslim scholars understood that the name ‘Al-Aqsa Mosque’ predates the structures, and that no one building could be called as such.”
And to further demolish Shamoun’s incompetence, here are some more interesting passages from Abu Sway’s article (emphasis mine):
“Al-Aqsa Mosque was developed and the buildings expanded on a large scale during the reign of the two seventh and eighth century Umayyad Caliphs, Abd Al-Malik Ibn Marwan and his son Al-Walid to the extent that it surpassed the architectural grandeur of all mosques. The magnificence of the architecture of the Dome of the Rock and the southern most building within the parameters of Al-Aqsa Mosque is witness to the importance of these holy sites in Islam.”
Amazingly, Shamoun himself quoted this! Is he just playing dumb or does it come naturally? Notice that Abu Sway clearly states that both BUILDINGS are WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF AL-AQSA MOSQUE. To avoid confusion, he refers to the building known as “Al-Aqsa Mosque” in modern parlance as “the southern most building” (i.e., the Qibli Mosque). In other words, the ENTIRE COMPOUND is Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.
Next, Shamoun attempted to also twist Professor Uri Rubin’s crystal-clear statements about Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. It’s no wonder Shamoun never graduated from high school. He is so unbelievably stupid that he cannot understand simple English sentences and instead gives them his own twist. Here are the quotes from Rubin that Shamoun attempts to magically interpret to “prove” his argument (caps are Shamoun’s emphasis):
“The expression al-‘udwa al-quswa recurs in extra-Qur’anic texts, in a report about a lesser pilgrimage (‘umra) performed by Muhammad.8 The report delineates Muhammad’s route, and states that he prayed IN A MOSQUE on the “farthest bank” of a valley near al-Ji’rana. The MOSQUE itself is described as the “farthest mosque” (al-masjid al-aqsa), in contrast to a “nearest mosque” (al-masjid al-adna) IN WHICH Muhammad did not pray. Here, TOO, aqsa IS DEFINITELY A DESCRIPTION OF A MOSQUE UPON THE EARTH, although it is clear that the MOSQUE itself is not necessarily identical with the one mentioned in Q 17:1.9.”
So Shamoun is just cherry-picking the word “mosque” and making the astounding leap of logic that it must mean a building. This simpleton is still stuck on the mistaken idea that a mosque has to be a building with a door or a roof! But Rubin himself refutes Shamoun’s idiocy, and I already pointed this out in Part I. Rubin states that (emphasis mine):
“[e]ven after the destruction of the temporal Temple House, the masjid as a sacred locality has not disappeared; it has survived the Israelite Temple, and this post-Israelite sanctuary is the one referred to in the isra verse. Here it is not a specific building but rather the entire city as a holy unity which has survived the old and sinful city. This abstract sense of the sanctuary is inherent in the Arabic word masjid, a place of worship.”
So, earth to Shamoun! A “mosque” does not have to be a building! Get over it!
Shamoun then appeals to the following passage from Rubin’s article and further exposes his troubles with reading comprehension (again, the caps are Shamoun’s emphasis of his stupidity):
“The EARLIEST AVAILABLE MUSLIM tafsir SOURCES, from Muqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767) on, ARE ABSOLUTELY AGREED THAT THE QUR’ANIC al-Masjid Al-Aqsa STANDS FOR A SANCTUARY IN JERUSALEM.”
Yes Shamoun, the earliest Muslim sources are agreed that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is a “sanctuary in Jerusalem”.
His incompetence is truly astounding! Let’s help him out. Perhaps he is having trouble with the word “sanctuary”. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “sanctuary” as (emphasis mine):
“protection or a safe place” or “the most holy part of a religious building”.
So just like the Arabic word “masjid” can mean any PLACE of worship, and not necessarily a building, so does the English word “sanctuary”. It can be a building, but it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully Shamoun will put the pieces together in his confused mind.
To further demolish Shamoun’s pathetic attempts at twisting Rubin, let us consider some other passages from Rubin’s article (emphasis mine):
“…the Qur’anic al-Masjid-al-Aqsa seems to reflect an Islamized version of the earthly-yet divinely purified-Jerusalem…”
Here, Rubin clearly establishes that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa does not represent the temple or any other building, but rather the city of Jerusalem. This again shows that a “masjid” can be any place of prayer, and not just a building.
Rubin further states that (emphasis mine):
“[i]t is significant that the earliest traditions do not mention a specific mosque in Jerusalem called al-Masjid al-Aqsa, which accords with the Qur’anic abstract significance of the term.”
So here again, Rubin himself refutes Shamoun’s idiotic interpretations. Shamoun is truly a fraud.
The next scholar that Shamoun attempted to misquote was Dr. Khalid El-Awaisi. Referring to the hadith where the use of the phrase Bayt al-Maqdis seemed to refer to the “mosque” rather than the city of Jerusalem, El-Awaisi concluded that:
“…the author can safely say that the Prophet, using the term Bayt al-Maqdis, referred mostly to the city, as was even understood by the people of Quraysh. However the last narration, if joined with other narrations, could mean the Mosque.”
The funny thing is that Shamoun quoted this, but once again failed to comprehend what El-Awaisi was saying. In fact, I already explained this concept in Part I. As I stated (emphasis mine):
“El-Awaisi provides a detailed discussion of the ahadith that mention Bayt al-Maqdis, and concludes on this basis that it was used by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ‘interchangeably to refer to the mosque, the city, and the region’.”
Based on this, I then stated the following:
“…to understand what the ahadith quoted above meant when they referred to “Bayt al-Maqdis”, we need to:
1. Examine whether it was the Prophet’s statement or of his companions, and
2. Examine the context of the hadith.”
So Shamoun has brought nothing that I have not already discussed!
Next, Shamoun again attempts to force his ignorant understanding of the word “masjid/mosque” and what Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa actually is by again twisting El-Awaisi’s words. He makes the following claim:
“…this same author candidly admits that there are hadiths where Muhammad is clearly referring to an actual physical building, a mosque in fact, and not merely to the site of where the Temple once stood…”
But this is just another example of Shamoun’s incompetence and deceitfulness. First of all, nowhere in his article did El-Awaisi state that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa was a physical building. Shamoun is still stuck on the word “mosque”. Based on his ignorance, every time he sees the word “mosque”, he assumes it must be a building.
But since Shamoun is such a lazy researcher, he doesn’t realize that Dr. El-Awaisi has clearly stated elsewhere (in agreement with all reputable scholars) that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is not just some building, but rather the entire Temple Mount compound, as I have said numerous times already. In the “Introduction” to the book Geographical Dimensions of Islamicjerusalem, which was edited by Dr. El-Awaisi, he states (emphasis mine):
“Al-Masjid al-Aqsā, Al-Aqsa Mosque, has its share of confusion; again, this occurs mainly in the later stages of Muslim rule. The name Al-Aqsa Mosque has been used in various connotations, the most famous of which reduces it to a single structure rather than the large enclave it actually refers to. This is clearly evident when making comparisons between early and late sources. While the former are precise in the use of the name, the latter muddle its usage, reducing it to less than 3% of the area it refers to. Not only this, the introduction of borrowed terminologies from the sacred sites in the Arabian Peninsula only adds to the confusion.
The reduction of the name al-Aqsa to structures built during the Umayyad period considerably narrows down the idea of al-Aqsa Mosque. Both the Dome of the Rock and al-Jāmi‘ al-Aqṣā were only a fraction of the Umayyad work in al-Aqsa Mosque. The Mosque itself was in existence well before the constructions of these two inside al-Aqsa Mosque’s enclave. Thus, when reference is made to al-Aqsa Mosque, this does not refer to a single structure within this compound, rather it includes both the Dome of the Rock and al-Jami‘ al-Aqsa amongst the tens of other historical monuments erected throughout history within it.”
So here again, Shamoun is exposed as an incompetent fraud. His bias, arrogance, and lazy research keep him from admitting that he is wrong. Instead, he just keeps making a fool of himself, especially when he makes statements like the following:
“…the author’s acknowledgment that Bayt al-Maqdis and masjid al-aqsa do indeed refer to an actual mosque that Muhammad erroneously thought stood in Jerusalem essentially refutes this greenhorn’s desperate attempt of proving the contrary.”
Such stupidity is quite becoming of a shoddy researcher like Shamoun.
Next, Shamoun repeated his ramblings on the Biblical evidence I presented. Indeed, as we have seen in this 3-part refutation, after taking 2 months to respond to my last article, what we have found is that Shamoun has not offered an actual response, but has largely vomited the same garbage. It seems Shamoun is a little dazed and confused. He repeated his ludicrous arguments about the Biblical concept of “the house of the Lord”, so to save time, I will simply re-state my arguments about the Biblical evidence from Part II.
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. 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. The book of Ezra was referring to the actual temple, and not the site. Despite being mere ruins, the temple was still referred to as “the house of the Lord”.
To finish off this refutation, let me stick some more nails in Shamoun’s coffin. In his pathetic rebuttal, he stated (emphasis mine):
“I will repeat my point so that readers can see the problem with the greenhorn’s fallacious and desperate appeal to the book of Ezra. 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 or site. As the evidence I have presented has proven, masjid al-aqsa can only refer to a physical building, one which did not exist at the time of Muhammad. As such, this is a blunder that will not go away, and which exposes Muhammad as a fraud and a false prophet.”
We have already seen this laughable argument crash and burn in the face of the evidence. The main reason is that the word “masjid” simply is not limited in meaning to a building. The second reason is if we use Shamoun’s own twisted sense of logic, then since Al-Masjid Al-Haram refers to the Kaaba and the land around it (as the evidence has shown), then by default, the context shows that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa must also be referring to the land rather than just some building. The third reason is that none of the sources that Shamoun attempted to (mis)quote supported his argument. Despite all these reasons, he has somehow convinced himself of his own delusion. The man needs psychiatric help. This concludes my 3-part refutation of the fraud that is Shamoun.
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 This is from the Saheeh International translation.
 Mustafa Abu Sway, “The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Qur’an, Sunnah and other Islamic Literary Sources”, p. 5, https://www.academia.edu/6338726/The_Holy_Land_Jerusalem_and_Al-Aqsa_Mosque_in_the_Quran_Sunnah_and_other_Islamic_Literary_Sources_i.
 Ibid., p. 7.
 Uri Rubin, “Muhammad’s Night Journey (isra’) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa: Aspects of the Earliest Origins of the Islamic Sanctity of Jerusalem,” al-Qantara 29 (2008): 155, https://www.academia.edu/5617249/_Muhammad_s_Night_Journey_isra_to_al-Masjid_al-Aqsa_Aspects_of_the_Earliest_Origins_of_the_Islamic_Sanctity_of_Jerusalem_.
 Rubin, op. cit., p. 155.
 Ibid., p. 159.
 Khalid El-Awaisi, “The Names of IslamicJerusalem in the Prophet Period,” Journal of IslamicJerusalem Studies 8, no. 1 (Summer 2007): 35, http://dergipark.gov.tr/download/article-file/294441.
 Khalid El-Awaisi, “Introduction,” in Geographical Dimensions of Islamicjerusalem, ed. Khalid El-Awaisi (Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), pp. 4-5, https://www.cambridgescholars.com/download/sample/58924.