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View looking south inside the al-Aqsa Mosque at the southern wall of the structure. In the center of the image is the semi-circular Mihrab that directs the attention of the worshipers towards Mecca. To the right of that, is the Minbar, the "pulpit" from which "sermons" are given.
Above the Mihrab are beautiful windows of a variety of colors. The base of the central dome is visible just above the center of the image.
The el-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam - after Mecca and Medina. Its name means "the distant place," and it is believed that Mohammed made a "night journey" to this place.
Caliph Walid (A.D. 709–715) built the first mosque. The mosque is built over a large number of subterranean arches, not on bedrock, and thus has been destroyed (earthquakes; the most recent in 1927) and rebuilt many times. During the Crusader Period (A.D. 1099-1187) it served briefly as the palace for the Crusader kings of Jerusalem, but then became the headquarters of the Knights Templar until the Crusaders were expelled from Jerusalem—when it was returned to its original function as a mosque.
The photo is courtesy of David Padfield (www.Padfield.com). The commentary is that of Carl Rasmussen.