Avi Melamed ~ Inside The Middle East
The Temple Mountain Compound is known in Arabic as Al-Haram As-Sharif (The Noble Sacred Site).
Al-Haram As-Sharif is the third most sacred place for Muslims after Mecca and Medina – both of which are located in the Arab Peninsula.
In the complex are two important symbols of Islam that were built during the Islamic conquests of the late 7th and early 8th centuries AD. One is the Dome of the Rock and the other is the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The word “Al-Aqsa” means “The Far Edge.” The term “Al-Aqsa” appears in the first verse of Chapter 17 of the Qur’an (the Islamic Bible). Chapter 17 describes Muhammad’s miraculous night journey to a place called “al-Aqsa.” For a long time, Islamist theologians identified “al-Aqsa” with heaven. Popular traditions, as well as political circumstances, caused Islamist theologians to change their outlook, and since the late Middle Ages, the term “Al-Aqsa” in Islam means Jerusalem.