A VISIT TO AL-QUDS AL-SHARIF "THE NOBLE CITY" WITH FULL SPIRITUAL SATISFACTION
We were luckily bestowed a visit to al-Quds al-Sharif, which is the second city built on the Earth, and on which al-Masjid al-Aqsa is located as the first kiblah of Muslims, the third Holy Masjid in excellence, the starting point of our Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) Mi’raj, and the point where the Holy Prophet led other prophets in prayer, and the site which contains sacred places of monotheistic religions, under which ten thousands of prophets are buried, and which was under the domination of Muslims for 12 centuries, the last four of which under the Ottoman rule.
We had four days of spiritual enlightenment.
We attended a Tour Organization of 160 persons, which included 23 distinguished colleagues as members of ASDER (The Association of Justice Defenders), and we landed to Tel Aviv Airport after a two-hour flight from Istanbul. Following a one-hour travel by land, we arrived at al-Quds al-Sharif. We performed our Friday prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqsa, or in al-Haram ash-Sharif in other words which is surrounded by walls, located on a one hundred forty thousand square meter area, accessible through 17 different gates, on which Kubbet es Sakhra, Masjid al-Qiblatain with a capacity of 5000 persons and Masjid al-Marwani are located and all outdoor areas of which are full of crowds despite the heavy rain.
During the first and second days of our stay, we visited the holy places in al-Masjid al-Aqsa and al-Quds al-Sharif which are Sacred for Muslim, Christian and Jewish people. On the third day, we visited Tombs of Prophets and sacred sites in the cities of Jeriho, Hebron and Bethlehem; and on the fourth day, we visited the Ottoman antiquities in the city of Jaffa before our return flight.
This is a very late visit for me. Maybe I would have delayed longer in this visit if I had not received the offer. I am in gratitude to everyone thanks to whom I made this visit.
This visit was very important for me in two aspects. The first is the spiritual aspect which fills our hearts, and the second aspect is the political aspect which reminds Muslims of their responsibility.
Al-Quds al-Sharif is a sacred city of the same age as the history of mankind.
While praying in this holy place under the projection of the octagonal gold-plated dome of the Kubbet es-Sakhra, containing the Foundation Stone which is the point where the Holy Prophet (saw) started his Mi’raj; one can free himself from worldly matters and reach to a peaceful state of mind when he remembers that the gate opens to the ninth heaven, our Holy Prophet (saw) came into the presence of our God and the angels entered the Earth through this gate, spirits of people rise up to the sky after passing through these gates and any prayer performed in these holy places are 500 times more favorable than prayers performed in other places except for Kaaba and Masjid-i Nabvi.
During morning and night prayer times for which we could hardly have time as we were too busy having trips in the cities, we feel a unique sense of peace and comfort in our souls and bodies, embraced by the sacred aura of the sanctuary while rushing to al-Masjid al-Aqsa and performing the prayers with other people from all over the world with the same excitement.
This visit must be a gift bestowed upon us by Allah.
Our spiritual pleasure and trance reached up to its highest point when we visited the “Al-Burak Wall” (called as Wailing Wall by the Jewish) on the Western Wall of Al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the place where our Holy Prophet tethered his winged steed, Burak, which took him from Makah to Al-Masjid al-Aqsa in his Mi’raj; Mosque of Umar (r.a.), subsequently built on the place where Caliph Umar (r.a.) performed his prayer right above the Church of Holy Sepulcher, adjacent to Al-Masjid al-Aqsa in Al-Quds al-Sharif where he arrived to take over the city after the conquest; the Tombs of the Prophet David, Salman the Persian (r.a.), who was a companion of our Prophet, and Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya on the Mount of Olives where Christians believe Jesus soared 40 days after being crucified and where the visitors can have a bird’s-eye view of Al-Quds al-Sharif and Al-Masjid al-Aqsa; the Tomb of Moses near the city of Jericho at a one-hour distance in the North of Al-Quds al-Sharif and the Islamic Social Complex nearby; the Dead Sea (al-Bahr al-Mayyit) which is 400 m below the sea level and in geographic proximity to the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in which the Prophet Lut’s peoples lived and which were destroyed; the Tombs of Prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, who are buried at the Islamic Social Complex called Harem-i İbrahim, in Hebron which is at a distance of 50 minutes in the south of al-Quds al-Sharif; and the tomb of Prophet Jonah in Halhul Town.
While we wandered around the places of visit, we watched Christian and Jewish people rushing to their houses in their traditional worshipping clothes and Christians worshipping at the magnificent Church of Holy Sepulcher, at the church where the Virgin Mary and her parents are buried, at the church which is believed to be the place where the Jesus was born, and the Jewish worshipping at the tomb of the Prophet David and at the Wailing Wall, all praying in line with their religions and in a peaceful manner, we could not help thinking that it would be so nice if these people looking so sincere in their worshipping were Muslims, and we had a better understanding of the interest of Christian and Jewish people in al-Quds al-Sharif, which is believed to be the place where people be in the judgment day.
I would like to finish writing about my personal feelings and opinions about the spiritual dimension of this visit by stating my sincere belief that being unable to visit this holy city and the places in this city would be a critical state of spiritual deprivation for the Muslims.
The Mournful al-Quds al-Sharif and the Oppressed Palestinians:
The first spiritual link between Islam and Al-Quds al-Sharif, which is the first kiblah of the Muslims, was strengthened by the event of Isra; below are the events listed chronologically about this Holy City:
In 636 (A.D.) it was conquered by Muslims, at the age of Caliph Umar (r.a.).
In 1071, the city was brought under Seljuk rule.
In 1099, the city was invaded by Crusaders and remained under the rule of Crusaders for 88 years,
In 1187, the city was brought under the rule of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi,
After being under the rule of France for 11 years between 1233:1244, the city was again conquered by the Ayyubid dynasty.
Al-Quds al-Sharif was;
Invaded by Mongols in 1243,
Conquered by Mamluks in 1259,
and brought under the rule of Ottomans along with Palestine following the conquest of Egypt by Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan in 1517.
After remaining under the Ottoman rule for 400 years,
The city was invaded by the English on December 09, 1917. Establishing a mandate government in Palestine, the English made Al-Quds al-Sharif the capital of Palestine;
After Israel constituted the Occupying State, the English retreated from Palestine in 1948. Arab- Israel conflicts started from this date;
Having invaded the entire Palestine in the War of 1967, Israel today dominates Al-Quds al-Sharif and Al-Masjid al-Aqsa.
The State of Palestine is fully dominated by Israel.
The State of Palestine is not recognized as an independent State by the World.
The State of Palestine does not have any contact with the outer world by land, sea or air.
Entrances into and exits from the settlement areas resided by the Palestinians are controlled by the Israel Army and security forces.
Settlement areas of Palestine, which are transformed into cantons disconnected from each other are surrounded by thick and high walls in an attempt to be kept under control and totally passivized.
Interprovincial highways in Palestine Territory are controlled by means of high watchtowers erected on junction and critical points, built of steel and equipped with cameras and electronic devices. Soldiers stand guard in these towers.
Moreover, new “Jewish Settlement Areas” have been built around Palestine Territories in form of modern sites as bases for security forces, enclosed by high wire fences.
Entrances to- exits from Palestinian Settlement Areas as well as entrances to- exits from sacred places such as al-Masjid al-Aqsa and Harem-i İbrahim are controlled by guard boxes and outposts launched by Israeli soldiers and Security Forces.
Young Palestinians are banned from performing their daily prayers regularly for five times at Al-Masjid al-Aqsa; those who defy the ban are detected by cameras and banned from entering Al-Masjid al-Aqsa for two months. Maintenance and repair works of Al-Masjid al-Aqsa are left at the mercy of Israel. This sacred place is in a miserable and forsaken situation.
In an attempt to disconnect the most important interests of Muslims in Al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the Israeli intends to cause destruction of Al-Masjid al-Aqsa under cover of searching for and locating the ruins of the Temple of Solomon by undermining Al-Masjid al-Aqsa through underground corridors opened.
Palestinians residing in Al-Quds al-Sharif, cities of Hebron and Harem-i Sharif and Harem-i İbrahim are not let enter if they exit from these places without receiving permission of the Israeli.
In Al-Quds al-Sharif, Palestinians are subject to pressure to sell their houses around Al-Masjid al-Aqsa to the Israeli; owners of these houses are forced to live on the breadline, their business or employment opportunities are restricted, and residence licenses of those who find a job and have to work in a place out of Al-Quds al-Sharif for over two years are cancelled.
Palestinians cannot get repair licenses for their houses around Al-Masjid al-Aqsa and their houses are left to fall down; those who have their houses repaired are punished with heavy fines.
The Palestinian land is under a total Israeli invasion, people of Palestine are obviously forced to live like prisoners.
Palestinians are oppressed in their own lands, in a miserable, deserted and innocent condition.
After personally observing the situation in place, we felt that we are now much more responsible towards these people and sacred places in this area.
Muslim Nations should bestow their hands on the lonely children of Islam and their abandoned Sanctuary as soon as possible.
Emergency Actions Suggested:
Every Muslim who is financially capable should visit Al-Quds al-Sharif and Palestine and personally observe every detail in place.
Travel organizations can be referred to for this visit. Visitors coming to the land as tourists do not encounter problems at Customs Departments and checkpoints of Israel. No disturbance is experienced during travel except for obligatory security checks. Our Group was welcomed with flowers at Tel Aviv Airport by the President of the “Union of Jews from Turkey in Israel” and their group. Travel to this country involves no risk and no security concerns.
Financial needs of Palestinian people must be met by Muslim States.
All annual needs, current public expenses and investment payments of both Gaza and the autonomous Palestinian territory must be ascertained in conformity with the budget technique; the amount of need ascertained must be collected in a fund to be created by Muslim States, and met regularly and continuously. By means of these efforts, Palestinians will not be left at the mercy of imperialist powers which use Israel as a pawn, and they will not have to sell their houses and property or leave Palestine. Their economic and social situations should be improved and a psychological balance should be ensured between parties.
Efforts must be made to ensure Palestine to be recognized as an independent state.
By providing their contact with the outer world by land, air and sea, they should be politically supported against the invasion.
The following list includes organizations which are necessary not only for Palestine but also for the World of Islam. Today we may regard this as an utopia, but dream is followed by a mature project, a mature project is followed by widespread recognition and discourse and these are followed by practice. We wholeheartedly hope that these dreams and wishes of us will be realized soon.
- A “Parliamentary Assembly” in which Muslim Nations are fairly represented should be constituted and such assembly should perform duty on permanent basis,
- An “Executive Committee” should be elected and appointed by such Assembly for permanent duty,
- Such Executive Committee should pay effort to solve problems of Islamic Countries in frame of decisions to be taken by the Parliamentary Assembly,
- Annual budgets of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the Executive Committee should be funded by member countries,
- Upon an arrangement by the Executive Committee, all Ministers of Muslim Countries should convene periodically to discuss common concerns of Muslim Nations and to ascertain common policies in field of every ministry, and especially to determine and implement the principles of common foreign policy,
- A “Court of Justice of Muslim Countries” should be constituted and political solutions should be suggested for problems between member countries and other countries as well as between member countries themselves,
- A “Cooperation in Defense and Defense Industry” should be organized between member countries,
- A “ Rapid Reaction Force” should be constituted through attendance of member countries to be deployed and managed by the “Executive Committee” and this military power should be exerted where required, for instance against Israel on Palestinian lands,
- A “Court of Human Rights” should be constituted under the control of the “Parliamentary Assembly” to prevent violation of human rights by member countries,
- A “Criminal Court” must be constituted and operationalized to adjudicate governors on the grounds of their crimes against the governed people,
A regular army should be formed for Palestine on Palestinian land and on lands of ally members through contribution of member countries,
“Economic Cooperation” and “Relief Funds” should be provided for member countries.
These can help creating an environment of peace and reconciliation, firstly among Islamic Countries and then all over the world.
Our common concern which can minimize problems in Islamic countries along with Palestine should be to implement formation of Islamic Unity within the shortest time possible.
February 4th , 2012
Retired Brigadier General
President of ASSAM