By Maitha Ali
For the first time in 48 years, Masjid al-Aqsa was shut down by Israeli occupation forces for two days after an alleged gun attack. The results? Three Palestinians shot dead on the grounds of the masjid, and tens of thousands restricted from being able to perform Friday prayers.
Protests continue to spark within the occupied city of Palestine, as Israeli occupation forces continue to impose various, unjust means of “security measures” within al-Aqsa mosque. These include metal detectors and television cameras, all of which restrict Palestinian citizens to enter voluntarily and violate UN resolutions.
As an Ummah, we should not feel consolidation for the decades of endless massacres within Palestine’s illegal occupation, much less the prohibition of being able to freely enter al-Aqsa Masjid. In fact, the Palestinians unceasing resilience should be our motivation to help free al-Aqsa and free the people of Palestine.
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.”
In addition to being the site of al-Isra and al-Miraj, Masjid al-Aqsa was the first Qiblah, the second masjid built, and to this day – the third, holiest and most sacred site.
Al-Aqsa has been directly and indirectly referred to in the Holy Qur’an 70 times. And has been accompanied by various, innumerable hadiths. This alone concludes that to strive for a Free Palestine, is a vital part of the Islamic faith and our obligation.
In fact, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned, “Set out deliberately on a journey only to three mosques: this mosque of mine [in Madinah], the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah], and al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem]” (al-Bukhari).
Even the virtue of a single prayer in Masjid al-Aqsa has a prodigious and unbelievable number of blessings. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), again, mentioned, “…a prayer in Jerusalem [al-Aqsa Mosque] is worth 500 prayers more than in any other mosque” (al-Bukhari).
Not only has the Prophet (pbuh) also led a prayer with all other Messengers at Masjid al-Aqsa, but Ibn Abbas (ra), stated, “There is not a single inch in Jerusalem where a Prophet has not prayed or an Angel has not stood” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad).
The emphasis placed on Masjid al-Aqsa is so great, and yet, the value seems to be underwhelmed and ignored by our Ummah.
Of course, the majority of our Muslim Ummah – if not all – are aware of the illegal, immoral, and inhumane occupation and war crimes that Palestinians endure in their everyday lives. Regardless of decades’ worth of harsh sufferings, our Palestinian brothers and sisters continue to shoulder this obligation, and have remained steadfast in their endless dedication and innumerable sacrifices, to protect Masjid al-Aqsa, and the Sacred Land of Palestine so that it remains our Holy place of worship.
By protecting the Sacred Land of Palestine that Allah (s.w.t.), Himself refers to as a Blessed Land, is to comply and fulfill the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
A woman once asked the Prophet (pbuh), “If one cannot visit it [al-Aqsa], what should we do?” And the Prophet (pbuh) responded, “If one cannot visit, then send some oil to be used for its’ lamps, and it will be as if he prayed in it” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, Tabarani).
This alludes to the fact that there are no exceptions to why an individual is not able to aid the Palestinian people and the Sacred Land in some way.
Organize a local protest to acknowledge the right to religion, that has been violated within al-Aqsa. Populate #HandsOffAlAqsa on social media outlets, and engage with others educating them of the oppressive acts that the Palestinians suffer. Write a petition, or write letters to government officials, Senators, and Congressmen, expressing your support for Palestinian Solidarity – the options are endless.
The ability to practice freedom of religion is a human right within this country and several others. However, in occupied Jerusalem, not only are schools, hospitals, and homes obliterated, but our mosques are violated. There is no justification for the injustice of the Palestinian people. It is the duty to strive for a Free Palestine for ourselves, and for one another.
The Sacred Land of Palestine, is not just for Palestine, but for our collective Ummah too.