It has become a popular trend these days to call Palestine the “Holy Land,” even though there is nothing specific virtuous about it as a whole through revelation. There is only one verse in the Qur’aan that refers to a particular area within what came to be known as Palestine. Yet, even that area was in reference to Masjid al-Aqsa, which literally means “furthest place of prostration,” and its surrounding platform. A “masjid” is a ‘place of sojood or prostration’ and “aqsa” means ‘farthest’ in the sense of distance. So, it’s clearly pertaining to an area that is far away from Makkah.
Allaah aza wajal says:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
(Surah al-Israa’ 17:1)
And Muhammad Rasoolullaah also mentions Masjid al-Aqsa in several narrations, such as:
لاَ تُشَدُّ الرِّحَالُ إِلاَّ إِلَى ثَلاَثَةِ مَسَاجِدَ مَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَمَسْجِدِي هَذَا وَالْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى
“No one should prepare a mount to visit any masaajid except three: the Sacred masjid, this masjid of mine, and the masjid al-aqsa.”
*In this narration, it shows us that it is forbidden to prepare a mount [to travel] for a masjid, except the three that were mentioned.
A question comes to mind, what/where exactly is masjid al-aqsa and its surroundings? For sure, the surroundings is limited and not absolute, otherwise, more than half of the world would be considered blessed since there are other lands connected to Palestine.
So when Allaah aza wajal says “whose surroundings we have blessed,” it is referring to the mount that it is built upon, and not the entire mass of landscape we call Palestine. This mount is pictured here:
As you can see, Masjid al-Aqsa is at the bottom and the Dome of the Rock is at top, with several other masaajid surrounding these two on the perimeter of the mount. Please make sure you do not confuse the Golden Dome to be al-Aqsa. They are two totally separate buildings. Masjid al-Aqsa has a greenish dome.
Hence, what we call as Palestine, contains a city called ‘Jerusalem,’ which contains the actual mount that is blessed. Not the entire country or region.