Wednesday 23 April 2014


My favourite place in Palestine is Al-Aqsa. I visited it for the first time on my second day in Palestine and have been going back every Thursday after my morning Arabic class at the Centre for Jerusalem Studies in the Old City (Al-Quds).  I pray, sit and read Quran, and use the time to give my mind some peace when it is often buzzing from all the difficulties I witness every day around me here.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the second oldest mosque in Islam after the Ka'ba in Mecca. It is third in holiness and importance after the mosques in Mecca and Medina.

Ten years after the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) received his first revelation, he was taken to Jerusalem on what is famously known as ‘The Night Journey’. When he arrived in Jerusalem at the site of the Al-Aqsa he led many of Islam’s Prophets in prayer before ascending to heaven. It was while he was in heaven that the five daily prayers became prescribed by God for Muslims.

Jerusalem therefore became the direction of prayer for Muslims for about 17 months after this event and but was later changed to the Ka’ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia after a revelation from God.

The Dome of the Rock is situated on the site of Al-Aqsa and is well-known for its amazing golden dome and deep blue tiled outer walls. The structure covers the rock where Muslims believe the Prophet (pbuh) led the other Prophets in prayer. Inside, Muslims can pray as normal in the main area, but also have the chance to pray under the rock which is a lit up cave in the centre of the mosque.

Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is not just the buildings of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, it is an area filled with fountains, stunning archways and gardens. It is a beautifully tranquil place where Muslims can sit and relax – you will often catch someone laying having a doze under a tree!

In the grounds there are many places where Muslims can make Wudhu (ritual purification/washing before prayer) but the most famous is ‘Al-Kas’ (The Cup). It is the oldest fountain on the Mosque grounds and allows people who have come to pray to wash from the fountain as the water flows                                                                              down towards the stone seats placed around it.

It makes me so sad that many people living in the West Bank cannot freely come to visit this amazing place. You can see the glittering gold dome from Abu Dis because it is so close to the town, and yet the Wall cuts people off from being able to go. Some people can apply for permission to visit – and during Ramadan, most women are allowed to go. But it is very difficult for people here and when I am in the schools the thing the children speak of most is how they wish there was no wall so they could go to Al-Aqsa Mosque. And I can see why.

I don’t think I will ever get bored of going to Al-Aqsa – as soon as I enter the grounds, my mind is set free of any worries and I enter a state of peace and relaxation that it is hard to get anywhere else. It is a place for reflection, worship, gratitude and remembrance and I hope that one day, inshAllah, the people who live here will get to enjoy this holy site that means so much to them.

No comments:

Post a Comment