Friday 22 March 2019

Al Aqsa Part III - Taking in History

Hi beautiful readers, 

It's been rather frustrating trying to work and get things done, especially with our load shedding schedule now on stage 4! I now have to plan my work, meetings, Skype, printing and cooking around three load shedding incidences in  a day (and I only have so much data on my mobile router 😩).

Anyways, I now try to do my work offline, and then upload when we're back up again. So now I'm able to bring you the next instalment, and I believe, the one many want to see, in my Aqsa journey. Because my trip to Palestine was a highly anticipated one, I am very happy to have been able to see as much as I could in the short time I was there. At the time of writing this, my mom had just performed her first Jumuah in the Dome of the Rock, her entire journey is taking me all the way back to December...

My last post just captured our first sights of Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques and our first Fajr experience. After we had dried off in the hotel, had breakfast, we prepared for our full day guided tour by one of the local guides. It was unfortunately raining profusely so my views from the shuttle was all fogged up, and when we got out at the some spots we got soaked. Nonetheless, I was not going to let a little rain dishearten me.

Our first stop was Jabal Muqabir, which according to legend, is the mount from which Caliphate Umar (RA) entered Jerusalem and loudly proclaimed Allahu Akbar. His entry precipitated the surrender of the keys of the City of Jerusalem into the hands of the Muslims by the Patriarch Sophronius fourteen centuries ago. From this vantage point one has a clear panoramic view of the Old City with the gold dome gleaming in the distance. We boarded the shuttle again and drove for 40 minutess towards Hebron, where Masjid Ibrahim is located. This mosque is built over a maqbara (cemetery) which is believed to house the tombs of Nabi Ibrahim (AS), his wife Sara (AS), Nabi Ishaq (AS) and his wife Rifqa (AS). Some say  Nabi Yaqoob (AS) and Nabi Yusuf (AS) are also buried in the cave (also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs) below the mosque. Inside the mosque there is a domed cupola or furnace which allows one to peek down to the cemetery cave below. The heady smell of oud mixed with warm air came wafting up from the cave as we leaned over the rail. It was such an incredible experience for me to just be in this mosque, whether the actual bodies of our prophets and their wives are physically present or not. There is still a feeling of intense spiritual energy in the air, while at the same time feeling calm and sanctified. Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, forms part of occupied territory, so there is a strong military presence and a checkpoint to pass through to enter the mosque. This city has been a contentious one throughout history, torn by centuries (and even in recent decades) of unrest and conflict. We spent about 45 minutes at this masjid before heading off to our next stop.

After performing Thuhr at the Mosque of Nabi Yunus (where His tomb is located), also in occupied West Bank (located on Mount Nabi Yunus) we headed off to Bethlehem. An hour and a half later we arrived in Bethlehem, parked off and had a quick lunch stop in a shopping centre. We then took a short walk to the Church of Nativity, situated in Manger Square. It was really amazing to walk through this little town, all Christmassy and covered in tinsel, teeming with tourists from all faiths. This is still part of the West Bank, so movements are carefully controlled by military police in certain areas. This is the oldest major church in Jerusalem, originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great. It houses a very significant site for those of the Christian faith, a grotto in the basement of the church believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, which has earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As we headed for our next stop, the Maqam of Nabi Musa (AS) the sun was already low, at around 4:30pm dusk was almost upon us. This Maqam which is situated just outside Jericho, is not confirmed to house the body of our Nabi Musa (AS) as it is generally believed that the location of his remains are unclear. However, tradition holds that Salahuddin Ayyubi once had a dream where he was shown this spot and he subsequently ordered this mosque to be built at this site. After completing Asr and Magrieb we departed for the town of Jericho. Walking through these sacred sites stirs an indescribable feeling and filled me with a sense of humility, gratitude and immense reverence. History literally envelopes you as you reflect back on the lives of our prophets ♥️.

Shortly after we were back on the shuttle headed to Jericho, the oldest city in the world. We disembarked at the Mount of Temptation, significant for the Christians as the place where Jesus was tempted by the devil. By the time we arrived it was already dark (even though it was just after 7pm), so it was difficult to see anything. We could just glance at the lights of the Greek monastery situated against the steep cliff of the mountain. After some refreshments and Esha salaah we started back towards East Jerusalem.
Along the way we stopped off at the Mount of Olives, which boasts a stunning panoramic view of the Old City. It also houses the Jewish cemetery since biblical times until present day.

Our last stop for the evening was the Maqam of Salman al Farsi (Salman, the Persian) who was a companion of the Prophet ﷺ  and the first Persian to embrace Islam. Salman first met the Prophet ﷺ in Yathrib (Madinah) and is notable for being the one who suggested the digging of the trench around Madinah during the Battle of the Trench, which resulted in a victory for the Muslims. We ended off an exhaustingly full, but enriching day at this masjid located on the Mount of Olives.

This amazingly detailed tour fostered a new respect for Jerusalem and the Land of our Ambiyah, it has elevated Palestine in my heart and filled me with such appreciation and love. If I haven't said it before, it is imperative to add Palestine to the bucket list and experience the heightened spirituality of a place where every single messenger of Allah (SWT) has dwelled. More importantly, it is the land the Prophet ﷺ  travelled to within a short span of the night, Subhaanallah!

On Mount Muqabir, the weather obscures the view of the Old City in the background 

Walking up to Masjid Ibrahim, Hebron
Tomb of Nabi Ibrahim (AS)
Tomb of Nabi Yunus (AS)
Manger Square, Bethlehem
Church of Nativity, Bethlehem

The Grotto in the basement at the Church of Nativity, Bethlehem 

We arrived at Masjid of Nabi Musa as dusk was falling

The tomb of Nabi Musa (AS)

Driving through the City of Jericho

It was too dark to see much from the Mount of Temptaion, but one can see the
lights of the Greek Monastery

Tomb of Salman Al Farsi 

View from the Mount of Olives (with the Dome clearly visible)

Ending off a full day and so ready for bed!

Caio for now,
RuBe xoxo

1 comment:

  1. Very informative and interesting read, Maasha Allah. Defs on my bucket list Insha Allah