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Apparently the mosques in Mecca and Jerusalem were built 40 years apart:

Abu Dhar narrated: I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Which mosque was first built on the surface of the earth?" He said, "Al-Masjid-ul-Haram (in Mecca)." I said, "Which was built next?" He replied "The mosque of Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem)." I said, "What was the period of construction between the two?" He said, "Forty years." He added, "Wherever (you may be, and) the prayer time becomes due, perform the prayer there, for the best thing is to do so (i.e. to offer the prayers in time)."

Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 55, Hadith Number 585

How can this be? Abraham (who built the Kaabah) and Solomon (who built the temple in Jerusalem) lived hundreds of years apart. What actual events is the Prophet referring to?

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There's no evidence that Abraham was the first to build the Masjid al-Haram, nor is there proof that Solomon was the first to built the temple. These are merely speculative conclusions.

The word "built" isn't mentioned in the original Arabic hadith. It's a mis-translation of the word وُضِعَ:

يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ فِي الأَرْضِ

وُضِعَ has several meanings, such as placed down, stationed, fabricated, or positioned. It doesn't mean "built."

Also, the word "masjid" means "a place of/to prostrate" and not necessarily a building.

If you look into other books of narrations, particularly Ibn Hisham's Kitab al-Tijan or/and Tafsir of Ibn Abi Hatim, you will find hadith that say Adam was the first to station the two places. Neither of the narrations mention 40 years, or any time period.

  • @Mr.Bultitude No problem, I updated my reply. – Sayyid Mar 26 '15 at 14:46
  • @Mr.Bultitude The an/hadathna/akhbarna clarification (i.e. a summary/analysis of the the different modes in which hadith can be transmitted) would probably make an excellent question in its own right. – goldPseudo Mar 26 '15 at 16:07
  • @goldPseudo I've given it a shot. – Mr. Bultitude Apr 1 '15 at 4:25

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