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How earthquakes destroyed the Al Aksâ Mosque,
from the Muthîr al Ghirâm, by Jamâl ad Din Ahmad, 1351 C.E.

The following is taken from PALESTINE UNDER THE MOSLEMS: A DESCRIPTION OF SYRIA AND THE HOLY LAND, FROM A.D. 650 TO 1500, by Guy Le Strange, 1890, pp. 91-93.

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". . . Previous to Mukaddasi's account, what we know of the history of the Aksâ Mosque may be summarized as follows: According to tradition, in or about the 635 (A.H. 14),  ’Omar erected a mosque (probably of wood) at Jerusalem. Presumably about the year 691 (A.H. 72), the Omayyad Khalif  ’Abd al Malik rebuilt the Aksâ Mosque (vide Mukaddasi and Suyûti). In 746 (A.H. 130), an earthquake is said to have thrown down the greater part of the Aksâ. Of this earthquake, and the damage caused by it, the earliest detailed account I have been able to find is that (see below) given by the author of the Muthîr, who is, however, a late authority, namely, A.D. 1351. The early Chronicles of Tabari and of Ibn al Athîr make no mention of this earthquake of A.D. 746, though Mukaddasi (985) alludes in general terms to the earthquake which had thrown down the Aksä in the days of the Abbasides. If the date of the earthquake, A.H. 130 (746), be correct, it should be noted in passing that this was two years before the overthrow of the Damascus Khalifate; since it was only in A.H. 132 that As Saffâh conquered his Omayyad rival, and founded the dynasty of the Abbasides, who shortly after this transferred their seat of government from Damascus in Syria to Baghdad on the Tigris.
       The account referred to above, as given by the author of the Muthîr, of the earthquakes is as follows:

"On the authority of  ’Abd ar Rahmân ibn Muhammad ibn Mansûr ibn Thâbit, from his father, who had it from his father and grandfather. In the days of  ’Abd al Malik, all the gates of the mosque were covered with plates of gold and of silver. But in the reign of the Khalif Al Mansûr, both the eastern and the western portions of the mosque had fallen down. Then it was reported to the Khalif, saying, '0 commander of the faithful, verily the earthquake in the year 130 [A.D. 746] did throw down the eastern part of the mosque and the western part also; now, therefore, do thou give orders to rebuild the same and raise it again.' And the Khalif replied that as there were no moneys in his treasury, (to supply the lack of coin) they should strip off the plates of gold and of silver that overlaid the gates. So they stripped these off and coined therefrom Dînârs and Dirhams, which moneys were expended on the rebuilding of the mosque until it was completed. Then occurred a second earthquake, and the building that Al Mansûr had commanded to be built fell to the ground. In the days of the Khalif Al Mahdi, who succeeded him, the mosque was still lying in ruins, which, being reported to him, he commanded them to rebuild the same. And the Khalif said that the mosque had been (of old) too narrow, and of too great length—and (for this reason) it had not been much used by the people—so now (in rebuilding it) they should curtail the length and increase the breadth. Now the restoration of the mosque was completed on the new plan during the days of his Khalifate."

       "From this account we learn that in A.H. 130 the Aksâ was thrown down by earthquake and rebuilt by the Khalif Al Mansûr. This restoration by Al Mansûr probably took place about the year A.H. 154 (771), for in that year the Chronicles of Tabari and of Ibn al Athir inform us that Al Mansûr visited Jerusalem, and prayed in the mosque. The Chronicles, however, be it noted, make no mention of Al Mansûr's restoration of the building: this we only read in the account given by the author of the Muthîr. According to this latter author a second earthquake (of which, however, apparently no mention is made in any of the Chronicles) laid Al Mansûr's building in ruins; and afterwards the Khalif Al Mahdi, his successor, rebuilt the Aksâ a second time, making it on this occasion broader and shorter. Of Al Mahdi's restoration, as in the former case, no mention is found in the Chronicles. If, however, the authority of the Muthîr is to be accepted for the fact, we should place this second restoration in or about the year 780 (A.H. 163), for in that year, according to Tabari, the Khalif Al Mahdi went to Jerusalem and made his prayers in the Aksâ Mosque, and he would then doubtless have had the ruined condition of the building brought under his notice."

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