Church of St. Mary of Justinian (Temple Mount, Jerusalem)

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A Byzantine church was built during the reign of Justinian, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Byzantine historian Procopius wrote that the church was built in 560 AD and burned down by the Persians in 614. Later after the Moslem conquest of the Holy Land, this church eventually became converted into what is the present day Al-Aksa Mosque.

The Al-Aksa Mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by Khalif Abd El Malik (the name "Omar Mosque" is therefore false). Therefore in or around 711, or about 80 years after Mohammed died, Malik's son, Abd El-Wahd - who ruled from 705-715 - reconstructed the Christian- Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque. He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine "basilica" structure with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular "ship" in the center. All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He then named it El-Aksa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the Koran.(1)

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