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Visiting Masjid al Aqsa is not enough!

Ebrahim Moosa – Cii Radio | 16 October 2014/21 Dhul Hijjah 1435

One art that Israel has expertly mastered over the decades of its brutal existence is that of feigning normalcy. “It has tried to make itself appear to be somewhat of a normal country,” South Africans recently heard from Diana Buttu, a former member of the PLO  negotiations team. “(But) it is not a normal country. It is a country that was founded on the dispossession of millions of Palestinians; it is a country that believes in racial and ethnic exclusion; and it is a country that continues to deny freedom to millions of Palestinians..You can only understand what the current State of Israel is, if you understand its past as a nation founded on exclusivity, ethnocracy and ethnic privilege”.

This is a lesson in reality that a duo of high ranking scholars on Masjidul Aqsa are also keen to get South African Muslims and other foreign visitors to Palestine to understand.

“Just a few days ago,” Al Quds Foundation SA President Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks told a national radio broadcast on developments at Masjid al Aqsa, “I heard somebody saying to me: ‘I went to Masjid al Aqsa recently, I was allowed in, I did not experience any tension, I made my Salaah in Masjid al Aqsa – I had a good experience and I returned back to South Africa’”

“That means nothing,” the veteran campaigner for Palestinian freedom interjected. “Your individual contentment at having been able to visit Masjid al Aqsa does not diminish the fact that there is brutality of occupation not only on Masjid al Aqsa but also on the City of Jerusalem (and beyond).”

It is becoming imperative for Muslims to realise that a visit to Masjid al Aqsa does not constitute the apex of their solidarity with the Occupied Palestinians, added Dr Abdullah Umar Ma’roof, a researcher and former employee at the Masjid.

“It is not an issue of going to pray only. You can just go and pray, and be treated by the Israelis as a tourist, and they won’t harm you – in fact you will find yourself welcomed by the Israelis because you are a tourist and this is how they try to trick the world. Even Muslims from outside (fall prey to this) thinking that everything is okay. But it is not okay, and Palestine is not in a good condition”.

The much spoken of presence in the Holy Land that is demanded of Muslims worldwide, explained Dr Ma’roof, should now be understood beyond just making a physical visit to Masjid al Aqsa.

“You need to make the Muslims there(in Palestine) feel that you understand their plight. You also need to understand that the land being contested is your land. It is not just ‘the land of the Palestinians’ because the Palestinians and the Jerusalemites do not believe that it is their land. They believe that they are only protecting the land for every Muslim in the world.”

Illustrating this contention, Ma’roof narrated the story of an elderly Jerusalem resident who was offered a huge sum of money for his tiny shop by a Zionist settler. The Palestinian recurrently refused to consent to the settler’s offers, suggesting that the price being offered was too low. Eventually, the settler said he was prepared to go as far as furnish the Palestinian with a blank check for his land. To the Zionist’s surprise, the Palestinian too rebuffed this offer. Asked to explain his reasoning, the Palestinian said he could only consent to such a deal if the Zionist brought him a paper signed by every Muslim on earth acceding to the sale, as this land belongs to every Muslim on earth, and as a Palestinian he was merely a custodian of this Waqf.

“This is how the Palestinians think,” concluded Ma’roof, “and this is how every Muslim on earth should think about Jerusalem”.

The researcher explained how Al Quds is replete with locations that reflect its ownership by the entire Muslim Ummah.

“There is an African quarter in Jerusalem, there is a Moroccan quarter in Jerusalem, there is an Indian Sufi corner in Jerusalem and there are many other places related to every single race on earth. It is your city, and when the Muslims outside feel that it is their city, they will know how to act towards it.”

Ma’roof said a major flaw in the approach of the Muslim World towards Al Quds was that its allegiance to the land only seemed to surface in the wake of Israeli crimes there.

“Jerusalem does not need us to wait until Israel acts, in order for us to react. Jerusalem does not need this. The people in Jerusalem need to feel that their brothers outside are living their cause, and are living their problems – this does not mean we have to be in perpetual grieving. But just let the Muslims in Jerusalem know that it hurts you that al Aqsa mosque is under occupation.”

The researcher referenced the huge demonstration South Africans held in Cape Town during the Gaza aggression and its effects on boosting the morale of the Palestinians.

“I am telling you, please act, do not wait towards ending the occupation. The biggest problem in Jerusalem is the Occupation itself. The real problem with Masjid al Aqsa is the Occupation. In order to end all these troubles and solve these problems that have erupted, you need to end the Occupation. Full stop. That is the only solution.”

UUCSA endorses call for Masjidul Aqsa awareness from Mimbars this Friday

UUCSA full

Cii News | 16 October 2014/21 Dhul Hijjah 1435

The United Ulama Council of South Africa(UUCSA) has endorsed a call from the International Union of Muslim Scholars(IUMS) for Masaajid to dedicate this Friday’s Jummuah Khutbah to creating awareness around the latest grave threats shadowing Masjid al Aqsa.

A statement, which was co-signed by the Al Quds Foundation South Africa called upon all of South African civil society to support the call.

The IUMS under the leadership of the respected Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi earlier this week called upon the Ummah to dedicate their Friday Sermons to Palestine, and more specifically what is happening currently in Masjid al Aqsa and al Quds. Sheikh al Qaradawi also called on faith based communities globally to stand up in defence of Masjid al Aqsa, and to speak out against the atrocities perpetrated against Islam’s Third Holiest Site. The call was made in light of the fact that mosques, churches, synagogues and other places of worship are sacred spaces whose sanctity should be respected and upheld at all times.

Masjid al Aqsa was witness to a serious escalation this week when Israeli police protecting extremist settlers commemorating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, barred the vast majority of musalless entry into the Masjid, fired teargas and rubber bullets at worshippers inside the Masjid and incurred serious damage to the mosque’s carpets and doors.

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