Muhammad’s Visit to a Non-Existent Temple

In this post, I am going to cite various Muslim sources to provide further confirmation that, according to Quran 17:1, Muhammad actually visited the Temple in Jerusalem, which the verse calls masjid al-aqsa. The obvious problem with this assertion is that there was no Temple in Jerusalem at Muhammad’s time, nor was there a mosque by that name since masjid al-aqsa was only built around 691 AD by the caliph Abd al-Malik bin Marwan. For the complete details I recommend reading the following rebuttal to Muslim polemicist Sami Zaatari

The Islamic literature identifies the farthest Mosque as actually the Temple of Jerusalem, which is called Bayt ul-Muqaddas in Arabic (spelled variously by different translators):

Muhammad Ibn ‘Umar al-Aslami informed us; he said: Usamah Ibn Zayd al-Laythi related to me on the authority of ‘Amr Ibn Shu’ayb, he on the authority of his father, he on the authority of his (‘Amr’s) grand-father; (second chain) he (Ibn Sa’d) said: Musa Ibn Ya’qub al-Zam’i related to me on the authority of his father, he on the authority of his (Musa’s) grandfather, he on the authority of Umm Salamah; (third chain) Musa said: Abu al-Aswad related to me on the authority of ‘Urwah, he on the authority of ‘Ayishah; (fourth chain) Muhammad Ibn ‘Umar said: Ishaq Ibn Hazim related to me on the authority of Wahb Ibn Kaysan, he on the authority of Abu Murrah the mawla of ‘Aqil, he on the authority of Umm Hani daughter of Abu Talib (fifth chain) he (Ibn Sa’d) said: ‘Abd Allah Ibn Ja’far related to me on the authority of Zakariya Ibn ‘Amr, he on the authority of Abu Mulaykah, he on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas and others; their consolidated narrations are: The Apostle of Allah, was taken by night on the seventeenth night of First Rabi’ before Hijrah, and one year before the blockade in the mountain pass of Abu Talib, to Bayt al-Muqaddas. The Apostle of Allah said: I was mounted on a beast whose size was between a donkey and a mule, with two wings in its thighs, which came up to its hoofs and were set in them. When I went near it to ride, it became restive. Thereupon Gabriel placed his hand on its head and said: O Buraq! are you not ashamed of what you are doing? By Allah no servant of Allah has ridden you before Muhammad, more honoured in the sight of Allah. It felt ashamed till it was covered with sweat, and became calm; then I mounted it. It moved its ears, and the earth shrank to such an extent that its hoofs (seemed to touch its surface) at the end of the range of our sight. It had a long back and long ears. Gabriel accompanied me and he never lost touch with me nor did I till we reached Bayt al-Muqaddas; and al-Buraq reached its halting place. It was tied there and it was the place where the beasts… of the Prophets were tied before the Apostle of Allah. He (the Prophet) said: I saw the Prophets who had assembled there for me. I saw Abraham, Moses and Jesus and, I thought there must be some one to lead them (in prayers); Gabriel made me go forward till I offered prayers in front of them and inquired from them (about their mission). They said: We were commissioned with Unity (of Allah).

Some of them (narrators) said: The Prophet had disappeared that night, so the members of family of ‘Abd al-Muttalib went out to search him. Al-‘Abbas went to Dhu Tuwa and began to shout: O Muhammad! O Muhammad! The Apostle of Allah said: I am here. He said: O my brother’s son! You have worried the people since the (beginning of the) night, where had you been? He said: I am coming from Bayt al-Muqaddas. He said: In one night? He said: Yes. He said: Did you experience anything which was not good? He said: I did not experience anything but good. Umm Hani said: He was taken on this journey from our house. He slept that night with us; he offered al-‘Isha prayers, and then he slept. When it was pre-dawn we awoke him (to offer) morning (prayers). He got up and when he offered morning prayers he said: O Umm Hani! I offered al’Isha prayers with you as you witnessed, then I reached Bayt Al-Muqaddas and offered prayers there; then I offered morning prayers before you. After this he got up to go out; I said to him: Do not relate this to the people because they will belie you and harm you. He said: By Allah I shall relate to them and inform them. They wondered at it and said: We have never heard a thing like this. The Apostle of Allah said to Gabriel; O Gabriel! my people will not confirm it. He said: Abu Bakr will testify to it; and he is al-Siddiq. The narrator added: Many people who had embraced Islam and offered prayers went astray. (The Prophet continued,) I stood at al-Hijr, visualised Bayt al-Muqaddas and described its signs. Some of them said: HOW MANY DOORS ARE THERE IN THAT MOSQUE? I HAD NOT COUNTED THEM SO I BEGAN TO LOOK AT IT AND COUNTED THEM ONE BY ONE AND GAVE THEM INFORMATION CONCERNING THEM. I also gave information about their caravan which was on the way and its signs. They found them as I had related. Allah, the Almighty, the Great, revealed: “We appointed the vision which We showed thee as an ordeal for mankind”. He (Ibn Sa’d) said: It refers to the vision of the eye which he saw with the eye. (Ibn Sa’ad, Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi – 110 002 India], Volume I, pp. 246-248; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Ziyad b. ‘Abdullah al-Bakka’i from Muhammad b. Ishaq told me the following: Then the apostle was carried by night from the mosque at Mecca to the Masjid al-Aqsa WHICH IS THE TEMPLE OF AELIA, when Islam had spread in Mecca among the Quraysh and all the tribes… His companion (Gabriel) went with him to see the wonders between heaven and earth, UNTIL HE CAME TO JERUSALEM’S TEMPLE… In his story al-Hasan said: “The apostle and Gabriel went their way until they arrived AT THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM”… (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 181, 182; bold and capital emphasis ours)

<from Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa> means the Sacred House which is in Jerusalem, the origin of the Prophets from the time of Ibraham Al-Khalil. The Prophets all gathered there, and he (Muhammad) led them in prayer in their own homeland. This indicates that he is the greatest leader of all, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon them. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 17:1; bold emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir narrates some hadiths to confirm this point:

The Report of Jabir bin `Abdullah

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say…

<<(When Quraysh did not believe that I had been taken on the Night Journey to Bayt Al-Maqdis, I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Bayt Al-Maqdis before me, so I told them about its features while I was looking at it.>> This was also reported in the Two Sahihs with different chains of narration. According to Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Shihab said: Abu Salamah bin `Abdur-Rahman said: Some people from Quraish went to Abu Bakr and said, “Have you heard what your companion is saying He is claiming that he went to Bayt Al-Maqdis and came back to Makkah in one night!” Abu Bakr said, “Did he say that?” They said, “Yes.” Abu Bakr said, “Then I bear witness that if he said that, he is speaking the truth.” They said, “You believe that he went to Ash-Sham [Greater Syria] in one night and came back to Makkah before morning” He said, “Yes, I believe him with regard to something even more than that. I believe him with regard to the revelation that comes to him from heaven.” Abu Salamah said, from then on Abu Bakr was known as As-Siddiq (the true believer). (Source


I remember being in Al-Hijr, and the Quraysh were asking me about my Night Journey. They asked me things about Bayt Al-Maqdis that I was not sure of, and I felt more anxious and stressed then than I have ever felt. Then Allah raised up Bayt Al-Maqdis for me to see, and there was nothing they asked me about but I told them about it. And I remember being in a gathering of the Prophets. Musa was standing there praying, and he was a man with curly hair, as if he were one of the men of Shanu’ah. I saw ‘Isa ibn Maryam standing there praying, and the one who most resembles him is ‘Urwah bin Mas’ud Ath-Thaqafi. And I saw Ibrahim standing there praying, and for the one who most resembles him is your companion (meaning himself). Then the time for prayer came, and I led them in prayer. When I finished, a voice said, ‘O Muhammad, this is Malik, the keeper of Hell,’ so I turned to him, and he greeted me first. (Source; bold 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. When he reached THE DOOR OF THE SANCTUARY, he tied up his animal by THE DOOR AND ENTERED, where he prayed two Rakahs to ‘greet the Masjid

Then he came back down to Bayt Al-Maqdis, and the Prophets came down with him and he led them in prayer there when the time for prayer came. Some claim that he led them in prayer in heaven, but the reports seem to say that it was in Bayt Al-Maqdis. In some reports it says that it happened when he first ENTERED

Then he came OUT OF BAYT AL-MAQDIS and rode on Al-Buraq back to Makkah in the darkness of the night. As for his being presented with the vessels containing milk and honey, or milk and wine, or milk and water, or all of these, some reports say that this happened in Bayt Al-Maqdis, and others say that it happened in the heavens. It is possible that it happened in BOTH places, because it is like offering food or drink to a guest when he arrives, and Allah knows best.” (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

There’s more:

Glory be to Him — an affirmation of God’s transcendence — Who carried His servant Muhammad by night laylan is in the accusative as an adverbial qualification; isrā’ means ‘to travel by night’; what is instructive about this mention of laylan ‘by night’ is that through its being indefinite there is an indication of the brevity of its duration from the Sacred Mosque that is Mecca to the Farthest Mosque THE HOLY HOUSE OF JERUSALEM so called because of its distance from the former; the environs of which We have blessed with fruits and rivers that We might show him some of Our signs the marvels of Our power. Indeed He is the Hearing the Seeing that is to say the Knower of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds. Thus He God was gracious to him by way of carrying him on the night journey which comprised his encountering the other prophets his ascension to heaven and the sight of the marvels of the Divine Realm and His communion exalted be He with him. For he the Prophet said ‘I was brought al-Burāq a white animal larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule; it was able to place its hoof back towards its extremity and so I mounted it. It set off carrying me until I reached THE HOLY HOUSE OF JERUSALEM. There I fastened the animal to the ring where the prophets fasten their animals. I then WENT IN and prayed two units INSIDE IT. As I CAME OUT Gabriel came to me with a jug of wine and a jug of milk and so I chose the milk. Gabriel said to me “You have made the right choice by choosing the primordial nature fitra”.’ He the Prophet continued the narration ‘We then ascended to the heaven of this world whereat Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked “Who are you?”. He replied “Gabriel” “And who is with you?” “Muhammad” he said. “Has he been sent for?”. “Yes he has been sent for”. Then it was opened for us and lo! Adam stood before me; he greeted me and prayed for well-being for me. We then ascended to the second heaven and Gabriel asked to be let in. Someone asked “Who are you?”. He replied “Gabriel” “And who is with you?” “Muhammad” he said. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 17:1; capital emphasis mine)

And from his own narration on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah’s saying (Glorified be): ‘(Glorified be) He says: He is far exalted above and exonerated from having a son or partner (He Who carried His servant) He Who took His servant Muhammad (by night) at the beginning of the night (from the Inviolable Place of Worship) from the Sacred Precinct, from the house of Umm Hani’ the daughter of Abu Talib (to the Far Distant Place of Worship) far in distance, but close to heaven, i.e. THE MOSQUE OF JERUSALEM (the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed) with water, trees and fruits, (that We might show him) that We might show Muhammad (of Our tokens!) of Our marvels, for all the things He saw that night were marvels of Allah. (Lo! He, only He, is the Nearer) of what the Quraysh say, (the Seer) He sees them just as He sees His servant Muhammad. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; capital emphasis ours)

“It is narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah said: I was brought al-Buraq who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of version. I mounted it and came to THE TEMPLE (Bait Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I ENTERED THE MOSQUE and prayed two rak’ahs IN IT, and then CAME OUT and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriel said: You have chosen the natural thing…” (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0309

Sunan an-Nasa’i

5 The Book of Salah

(1) Chapter: Enjoining As-Salah And Mentioning The Differences Reported by The Narrators In The Chain Of The Hadith Of Anas Bin Malik, And The Different Wordings In It

Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“I was brought an animal that was larger than a donkey and smaller than a mule, whose stride could reach as far as it could see. I mounted it, and Jibril was with me, and I set off. Then he said: ‘Dismount and pray,’ so I did that. He said: ‘Do you know where you have prayed? You have prayed in Taibah, which will be the place of the emigration.’ Then he said: ‘Dismount and pray,’ so I prayed. He said: ‘Do you know where you have prayed? You have prayed in Mount Sinai, where Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, spoke to Musa, peace be upon him.’ So I dismounted and prayed, and he said: ‘Do you know where you have prayed? You have prayed in Bethlehem, where ‘Eisa, peace be upon him, was born.’ Then I ENTERED BAIT AL-MAQDIS (Jerusalem) where the Prophets, peace be upon them, were assembled for me, and Jibril brought me forward to lead them in prayer…”

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 450

In-book reference: Book 5, Hadith 3

English translation: Vol. 1, Book 5, Hadith 451 (; capital emphasis ours)

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 the most ardent Muhammadan polemicist  will be able to get around the plain and obvious meaning of these narrations, all of which clearly expose Muhammad as a false prophet.

Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Chapters on Tafsir

Narrated Zirr bin Hubaish:

“I said to Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman: ‘Did the Messenger of Allah perform Salat IN BAIT AL-MAQDIS?’ He said: ‘No.’ I said: ‘But he did.’ He said: ‘You say that, O bald one! Based upon what do you say that?’ I said: ‘BASED UPON THE QUR’AN, (the Judge) between you and I is the Qur’an.’ So Hudhaifah said: ‘Whoever argues using the Qur’an, then he has indeed succeeded.’” (One of the narrators) Sufyan said: “He means: ‘He has indeed proven’” – and perhaps he (Sufyan) said: “He triumphed.” He (Zirr) said: “Glorified is He Who took His slave for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (17:1).’ He (Hudhaifah) said: ‘DO YOU SEE (this proves that) HE PERFORMED SALAT IN IT?’ I said: ‘No.’ He said: ‘If he had performed Salat in it, then it would have been required upon you that you perform Salat in it, just as it is required that you perform Salat in Al-Masjid Al-Haram.’ Hudhaifah said: ‘The Messenger of Allah was brought a beast with a long back – stretching out like this – one stride of it, is as far as his vision. So, the two of them remained upon the back of Al-Buraq until they saw Paradise and the Fire, and all of what has been prepared for the Hereafter, then they returned back to where they began.’ He said: ‘They say that he was fettered, but for what? Because he might flee? The Knower of the unseen and the witness subdued him.’”

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3147

Arabic reference: Book 47, Hadith 3440 (

Here we have Muslims using Q. 17:1 to prove that Muhammad entered in bait al-maqdis to perform prayer. The disputant doesn’t deny that Muhammad visited and/or entered an actual building. He simply rejects the notion of Muhammad praying inside there.

3 thoughts on “Muhammad’s Visit to a Non-Existent Temple

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