The recent closure of Masjid al-Aqsa by the Israeli occupation forces has once again brought to light the ongoing violations of one of the most sacred sites in Islām. For many Muslims, this may have been the first time they heard of Masjid al-Aqsa, such has been the neglect with which the Ummah has treated it. Others have allowed a feeling of powerlessness to overcome them leading to a sense of indifference on the basis that there is nothing they can do to help. Leave it to Allāh to deal with.
Neglecting Masjid al-Aqsa on the basis that there is very little we can do to help is contrary to the spirit of the advice given to this Ummah by the best of creation, the Prophet Muḥammed (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). He urged us to visit Masjid al-Aqsa to pray there and that if this were not possible, we should send oil to be used in its lamps and that whoever did so would get the same reward as if they prayed there.
This ḥadīth demonstrates not only the virtue of Masjid al-Aqsa for this Ummah but also points towards the importance of not belittling any deed that will help this special mosque. With this in mind, what follows are 5 things we can all do to support Masjid al-Aqsa in these difficult times:
1. Instil the love of Masjid al-Aqsa in the hearts of our children
Our children are raised with stories about Makkah and Madīnah, the land where the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was born, where he lived and where he died. This was the land of the hijrah and where the stories of the great companions took place. Our homes are adorned with photographs of the haramain and many children have been blessed to have even travelled to them on pilgrimage. As such, the love of these mosques is firmly implanted in the hearts of our children to the extent that any rumours of any attempt to violate the sanctity of these places provokes the most powerful of emotions.
In much the same way, we must educate ourselves and our children about the great virtues of Masjid al-Aqsa, the first qiblah of Islām, the second mosque ever built on earth by either Ādam (ʿalayhi al-Salām) or the angels, the place from which the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) ascended to the heavens, and the only place in the heavens or the earth that every one of Allāh’s prophets, all 124,000 of them, gathered together to pray behind their leader, our beloved Prophet Muḥammed (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). It is indeed the masjid where numerous prophets lived and were buried and it will be the focal point in the events leading to the end of times.
Friends of Al-Aqsa has produced a number of storybooks and activity workbooks designed for younger children to teach them about Masjid al-Aqsa. These are excellent resources I would encourage us to buy for our own homes and as gifts for others.
When our children’s hearts are filled with the love of Masjid al-Aqsa, they will take steps towards its liberation in future that our generation has been unable to.
2. Start a weekly study circle about the history of Palestine and Masjid al-Aqsa
Educate your local community by beginning a weekly study circle on the history of Palestine and Masjid al-Aqsa. This can take place in the mosque, a local community centre or even your own home.
Do not wait for a specialist speaker to arrive; be that speaker. The best way to learn about anything is to teach it. If you do not know about Palestine, there are a number of resources available from Friends of Al-Aqsa and other groups. You will find the journey truly enlightening and spiritually uplifting and, before you know it, you will have become the local expert on Palestine in your community.
3. Dedicate the Friday Khutbah to Masjid al-Aqsa
Ask your imām to dedicate a khutbah on Masjid al-Aqsa so that the community becomes aware of the importance of the mosque and the current violations that are taking place there. Templates have already been produced and are available for download.
4. Visit Masjid al-Aqsa
Organise a family holiday to Masjid al-Aqsa. The cost of such a holiday is a fraction of the cost to visit Makkah and Madīnah. A week-long trip to Jerusalem will set you back about £600 per person which will cover your flights, transfers, accommodation, guided tours and two meals a day. Anyone who has had the blessing of visiting the masjid for even one prayer will testify to the magnificence of the experience and how they returned even more determined to liberate al-Aqsa, such was the love that was nurtured in their hearts through their journey there. By travelling to this blessed land and walking in the footsteps of the prophets you will witness first-hand the daily humiliations that ordinary Palestinians have to endure at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces. No amount of reading or listening to lectures can bring home the horrors of living under occupation as witnessing it for yourself. Finally, visiting Masjid al-Aqsa will demonstrate to the Israeli Occupying Forces that, despite their efforts, the Ummah has not forgotten Masjid al-Aqsa and that their attempts to destabilise it are not going unnoticed.
Of course, there is a chance that even with all your efforts and preparation the Israeli occupation forces will refuse you entry and deport you to your country after lengthy questioning and detention. As intimidating as this may sound, this in itself will allow you to live the Palestine experience and return even more emboldened to free Masjid al-Aqsa from those who have violated its sanctity.
It is quite possible that the possibilities of a failed journey may lead you to feel it is neither worth the money nor the effort, but we should remember that until we try, we will never know. Secondly, even the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) himself and his companions set out to make Umrah to the Kaʿbah and were stopped from entering and had to return to Madīnah. It would be in those blessed footsteps that we would be walking. Thirdly, if we were to quantify the experience of trying to please Allāh by reviving the ḥadīth of visiting Masjid al-Aqsa and the opportunity to experience, empathise and subsequently share what the average Palestinian goes through on a daily basis, we would realise that the money spent is an investment, the growth of which we will see in the future in our deeds, our children and our ākhirah, inshāAllāh.
5. Pray for Masjid al-Aqsa
Let not any period of your supplicating to Allāh pass without mentioning Masjid al-Aqsa. We pray for those things that are beloved to us and are meaningful to us. The more we pray for something, too, the more beloved and meaningful it becomes. Ultimately, it is Allāh that will liberate Masjid al-Aqsa in a manner that He chooses but will we be part of that struggle?
Template khutba for this Friday available here: http://www.foa.org.uk/publication/importance-of-masjid-al-aqsa-khutba/