(This article was originally written in Malay language for At-Takwin magazine (Perdaus, Oct.-Dec., 2000). It was translated to English by bro. Noor Shahid Noorahman (May Allah reward his effort) and re-circulate here with minor ammendments. The Malay version is available at http://haniff.sg/artikel-panjang/al-aqsa-palestin-dan-kita-2 . May this article benefits you.)
© Muhammad Haniff Hassan
Al-Aqsa and Muslims
The Al-Aqsa Mosque has a special status in Islam. This can bee seen from the following facts:
1. It is the first qiblah of prayer before Allah substituted it with the Ka’bah in Makkah.
2. It was the endpoint of the Prophet’s Isra’ (night journey) and the beginning of his Mi’raj (ascension) to the heavens. Allah says in the Quran, which means,
“Limitless in His Glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Inviolable House of Worship [at Mecca] to the Remote House of Worship [at Jerusalem] – the environs of which We had blessed so that We might show him some of Our symbols.” (Al-Isra’: 1)
3. In the above-mentioned verse, Allah describe the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a blessed place.
4. It is one of the mosques that Muslims are highly encouraged to visit. The Prophet said, which means,
“You should not undertake a special journey to visit any place (of worship) other than the three Mosques: the Sacred Mosque of Makkah, this mosque of mine (in Madinah), and Al-Aqsa Mosque (of Bayt Al-Maqdis/Jerusalem).” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, Muslim & Abu Dawud)
5. The rewards of performing worship at Al-Aqsa are manifold compared to other mosques except at the Masjidil Haram in Makkah and the Prophet’s mosque in Medina. The Prophet s.a.w. said, which means,
“A prayer in the Masjid Al-Haram is akin to a hundred thousand prayers, a prayer in my mosque to a thousand prayers, and a prayer in the Bayt Al-Maqdis to five hundred prayers.” (Narrated by Al-Tabarani)
6. Al-Aqsa Mosque is located in Jerusalem which is a symbol of piety and struggle for Muslims. The Prophet said, which means,
“A group of my ummah (people) will remain on truth, they will vanquish their enemy and those who disagree with them will not be able to harm them until Allah commands. “Where are these people?” The Companions asked. The Prophet said, “In and around Al-Quds (Jerusalem)”” (Narrated by Ahmad)
7. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third land sacred to Muslims after Makkah and Madinah.
Based on the above-mentioned facts, it can be concluded that Muslims are strongly connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
They also imply that Muslims are responsible to preserve and defend the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque from all forms of violation, oppression and tyranny.
On that regards also, all Muslims will be held accountable to Allah for anything that happens to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestine and Muslims
Since the Al-Aqsa Mosque must be defended by Muslims as one of their sacred lands, the land of Palestine must be defended as such too.
Muslims around the world have duties towards Palestine. It is part of the Muslim countries that were ruled during the reign of Umar and our scholars have unanimously agreed that it is obligatory upon every Muslim to defend every inch of Muslim land from illegitimate occupation.
It must be noted also that the right of Palestinians for self-rule and the status of Palestinian lands as occupied territories are recognised by international community.
Even though the loss of Palestine does not affect Muslims elsewhere, this is no excuse for them not to take on the responsibility to restore the land to its rightful owners, because Allah says, which means,
“And [as for] the believers, both men and women they are close unto one another: they [all] enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and are constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto God and His Apostle. It is they upon whom God will bestow His grace: verily, God is Almighty, Wise!” (Al-Tawbah:71)
The Prophet said, which means,
“The parable of the Believers in their mutual love and mercy is like that of a living body: if one part feels pain, the whole body suffers in sleeplessness and fever.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
“The relationship of the believer with another believer is like (the bricks of) a building, each strengthens the other.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
Therefore, the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine is not an issue for the Palestinian people or exclusively for the Arabs alone but it is an issue for all Muslims as a whole.
Within their own capacities, Muslims around the world are obliged to play their part to resolve the issues of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine in line with the demands of their religion and within legal means.
For Muslims who are located far away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine, they can play the following roles:
1. Be keenly aware of the latest developments related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine.
2. Be concerned about and follow closely news related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine.
3. Understand the history of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine to understand today’s reality.
4. Educate children and family members to love the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to know its history and the history of Palestine.
5. Disseminate correct information on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine to the community and invite the community to be sensitive to this issue and to follow its developments.
6. Pray to Allah after every prayer that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is returned to the Muslims, Palestine freed from the shackles of colonialism and the Palestinians to regain their rights.
7. Contribute financially to help the people of Palestine and the efforts to free the Al-Aqsa Mosque through funds managed by various legitimate humanitarian agencies and in accordance to law of a country.
8. Engage in humanitarian efforts to help the people of Palestine and the activities associated with the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
9. Any other contributions for the freedom of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the people of Palestine, that are within our means and the law of a country.
Allah says in the Quran, which means,
“Go forth to war, whether it be easy or difficult [for you], and strive hard in God’s cause with your possessions and your lives: this is for your own good -if you but knew it!” (Al-Tawbah: 41)
Muslims and Justice
When Muslims are of the opinion that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a holy land that Allah had entrusted upon them, it does not mean that they claim monopoly rights to the city of Jerusalem, in which the mosque resides.
Muslims acknowledge that Christians and Jews also consider Jerusalem as their holy city. They also wish to visit and worship in the city as part of their religious obligations.
If the Al-Aqsa Mosque were under Muslims’ administration, Christians and Jews will not be denied their rights to worship in Jerusalem. Islam even guarantees their freedom to worship and visit Jerusalem.
Islam also guarantees that even the people of Jerusalem, when administered by Muslims, will not be persecuted nor their rights violated.
This is due to the following postulates that Muslims hold on to in dealing with them:
Allah says in the Quran, which means,
“And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly manner – unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing and say: ‘We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: or our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that We [all] surrender ourselves.’” (Al-Ankabut: 46)
“God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers!” (Al-Mumtahanah: 9)
The Prophet said, which means,
“He who unfairly treats a dhimmi (non-Muslim who keeps a peace treaty with Muslims), or undermines his rights, or burdens him beyond his capacity, or takes something from him without his consent; then I am his opponent on the Day of Judgment.” (Narrated by Abu Dawud & Al-Baihaqi)
“He who harms a dhimmi (non-Muslim who keeps a peace treaty with Muslims) has harmed me, and he who harms me has harmed Allah.” (Narrated by Al-Tabarani)
“Whoever who kills a dhimmi will not smell the fragrance of paradise; although its fragrance makes itself felt at a distance of forty years walk.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Al-Nasa’i)
Refer to the scholars’ writings about the rights of non-Muslims in Muslim countries.
History has shown when the Romans were ruling Jerusalem, they banished the Jews and tortured them. Similarly, when the Christian army conquered Jerusalem during the Crusades, tens of thousands of lives of Muslims and Jews were killed in Jerusalem and the nearby regions.
However, when Muslims ruled Jerusalem during the time of Umar and later on by Salahudin Al-Ayubi, there was no record of Christians or Jews being persecuted or denied from worshiping there.
For Those Who Neglect & Despair
It is feared that Muslims who are negligent of the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine would not belong to the category mentioned in the Prophet’s saying which means,
“The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and compassion is that of the body; when one part of it is in pain, the rest of the body joins it in restlessness and fever.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
Although today’s reality is very heartbreaking for Muslims and the future of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is still uncertain, but Muslims should remain optimistic that the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be returned to them as promised by Allah in the Quran, which means,
“And we made [this] known to the children of Israel through revelation: Twice, indeed, will you spread corruption on earth and will indeed become grossly overbearing! Hence, when the prediction of the first of those two [periods of iniquity] came true, We sent against you some of Our bondmen of terrible prowess in war, and they wrought havoc throughout the land: and so the prediction was fulfilled. And after a time We allowed you to prevail against them once again, and aided you with wealth and offspring, and made you more numerous [than ever]. [And We said:] “If you persevere in doing good, you will but be doing good to yourselves; and if you do evil, it will be [done] to yourselves.” And so, when the prediction of the second [period of your iniquity] came true, [We raised new enemies against you, and allowed them] to disgrace you utterly, and to enter the Temple as [their forerunners] had entered it once before, and to destroy with utter destruction all that they had conquered.” (Al-Isra’: 4-7)
Refer to tafsir (exegesis of the Quran) to understand the above verse and its relation to today’s reality.