Saudi lawyer claims Al-Aqsa Mosque's true location 'is not in Jerusalem'
Osama Yamani claims that Al-Aqsa is located in Al-Ju'ranah near Mecca, in Saudi Arabia
A Saudi Arabian lawyer claimed that Al-Aqsa (the Farthest) Mosque, traditionally held to be Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, is not in fact, located on the Al-Aqsa compound (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem's Old City.
Writing in Saudi news outlet Okaz, Osama Yamani maintained that the mosque - which is one of the world's most ancient permanent Islamic buildings, having been completed in 705 CE - is actually located in Al Ju'ranah, near Mecca in Saudi Arabia, cited Israeli outlet, Israel Hayom.
In his piece, Yamani argued that the centuries-long confusion stems from the fact that history books have mistakenly located Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is not Al-Aqsa, which is not cited in the missions that Allah gave Muhammad and the caliphs. Similarly, Jerusalem is a city, and Al-Aqsa is a mosque," he stated.
Yamani added that originally, Muslims did not face in the direction of Mecca while praying and instead faced Jerusalem, a function imposed by Umayyad dynasty's fifth caliph Abd al-Malik, who built the adjoining Dome of the Rock in 691 CE.
Yamani explained that: "There are stories influenced by political considerations that served the purposes of that time, and sometimes claims are made that they have nothing to do with faith or following religious dictates."
Islamic tradition dictates that although the Prophet Mohammad's corporeal body never entered Jerusalem, with the word never being mentioned in the Qur'an, legend affirms that he ascended to heaven on al-Buraq - a winged horse, which is said to have taken off from the foundation stone underneath the Dome of the Rock.
We are already witnessing what a war of ideas inside the Islamic world looks like with Sunni and Shia Muslims continuing a battle that has raged for more than 1,300 years. A battle over the so-called "true" location of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Saudis and Palestinians could similarly spell trouble.