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Islamic date in Europe

Friday 14th of December 2018

06 Rabīʿ ath-Thānī 1440

 DomeoftheRock

[17:1] Glorious is He Who made his servant travel by night from Al-Masjid-ul-Haram to Al-Masjid-ul-Aqsa whose environs We have blessed, so that We let him see some of Our signs. Surely, He is the All-Hearing, the All- Seeing.


Introduction to Jerusalem:

This is a summary of my travels through the Holy lands of Islam, Christianity & Judaism. This was a brief journey from the 16th to the 20th of January 2015 and should not be taken as a comprehensive historical account or a travel guide. My intention here is to only record my observations to help others plan and formulate their journey to the Holy lands.

I feel that before I can jump into presenting an account of my journey, it is important to give a brief account of why achieving peace in Palestine between Islam, Christianity & Judaism has proven so difficult.

Jerusalem is a religious city, its acquisition and maintaining sovereignty over it a religious matter. This conflict lasting nearly 1500 years must be viewed in a religious context and this was the summary of my discussions with a Jewish Rabbi at Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) and we both agreed.

We both also agreed that there are similarities between Islam and Judaism but both faiths have fundamental doctrinal differences with Christianity which are difficult to reconcile. Israel, its policies, its outlook are more of a projection of Zionism than Judaism.

I don’t claim to be an expert in one religion, let alone 3 but here is my summary of differences between the three faiths in the context of the geographical region of Jerusalem.

Throughout this article the Arabic name will be presented first followed by the (common) biblical name.

Jerusalem: Genealogical disputes between Judaism, Christianity & Islam

Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) had a wife called Sara [Sarah] (AS) who was barren. Due To her inability to conceive Sara [Sarah] (AS) accepted Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS)’s relationship with Haajar [Hagar] (AS) and thereby she conceived a child named Ismail [Ishmael] (AS). All 3 religions generally agree with the main points of this story but there are fundamental differences which affect the Muslim/Christian/Jewish relationships as follows:

Muslim vs Judeo/Christian belief about Haajar [Hagar] (AS):

Muslims believe that Haajar [Hagar] (AS) was a princess who was given to Sara [Sarah] (AS) as a gift due to her piety and high morals.

It is known that Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) left Ar for Harran and then for Palestine, which he made headquarters for his Message. He wandered all over the area. When he went to Egypt, the Pharaoh tried to do evil to his wife Sara [Sarah] (AS), but Allah saved her and the Pharaoh’s wicked scheme recoiled on him. He thus came to realize her strong attachment to Allah , and, in acknowledgment of her grace, the Pharaoh rendered his daughter Haajar [Hagar] at Sara [Sarah] (AS)’s service, but Sara [Sarah] (AS) gave Haajar [Hagar] to Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) as a wife. [Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum]

The Judaic/Christian tradition regards Haajar [Hagar] as a slave:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. [Genesis 16:1-3]

The Judaic/Christian tradition then casts Haajar [Hagar] in a very bad light who became jealous of her mistress and despised her due to which she was made to flee:

He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.[Genesis 16:1-3]

Islam neither disparages nor dishonours either Sara [Sarah] (AS) or Haajar [Hagar].

Muslim vs Judeo/Christian belief about Ismail [Ishmael] (AS):

The Judaic/Christian tradition then casts the offspring Ismail [Ishmael] (AS) in a very bad light from the beginning and makes predictions about his future even before his birth as follows:

He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. [Genesis 16:12]

Qur'aan on the other hand gives glad tidings and mentions Ishaq [Isaac] (AS) the other son of Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) from Sara [Sarah] (AS) over 15 times by name starting from prophecy about his birth and that of his brother.

[11:71] His wife was standing (nearby), and she laughed. Thus We gave her the good news about Ishaq [Isaac] (AS) , and about Yaqub [Jacob] (AS) after Ishaq [Isaac] (AS).

Then Islam presents Ismail [Ishmael] (AS) as a model of patience, forbearance and submission to the will of God and the submission of is still remembered by Muslims yearly in the form of a ritual sacrifice to God.

[37:99] And he said, I am going to my Lord. He will show me the way. [37:100] O my Lord, bless me with a righteous son. [37:101] So, We gave him the good news of a forbearing boy. [37:102] Thereafter, when he (the boy) reached an age in which he could work with him, he (Ibrahim) said, .O my little son, I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so consider, what is your opinion?. He said, .O my dear father, do what you have been ordered to do. You will find me, insha‘allah , (if Allah wills) one of those who endure patiently.[37:103] So, (it was a great episode) when both of them submitted themselves (to Allah‘s will), and he laid him on his forehead (to slaughter him), [37:104] and then We called out to him, .O Ibrahim, [37:105] you did make the dream come true.. This is how We reward those who are good in their deeds. [37:106] This was indeed a trial that clearly demonstrated (their obedience).

Islam neither disparages nor dishonours either Ismail [Ishmael] (AS) or Ishaq [Isaac] (AS) or Yaqub [Jacob] (AS). All 3 of them are regarded as divine Prophets and Messengers in Islam. In fact the Qur’aan lists most of the Prophets related to the Judeo/Christian tradition and the land of Palestine in the most glorious praiseworthy terms.

{jb_bluebox}[6:84] We bestowed upon him Ishaq [Isaac] (AS) and Yaqub [Jacob] (AS) . Each one of them We guided to the right path. Earlier, We guided Nuh [Noah] (AS) and, of his progeny, (We guided) Dawud [David] (AS) and Sulaiman [Solomon] (AS) and Ayyub [Job] (AS) and Yusuf [Joseph] (AS) and Musa [Moses] (AS) and Harun [Aaron] (AS). Thus We reward those who are good in deeds.

Importantly, the Qur'aan makes no distinction in their status, sanctity and dignity and this is a fundamental doctrinal aspect of Islam.

[2:285] The Messenger has believed in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and the believers as well. All have believed in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. We make no division between any of His Messengers, and they have said: .We have listened, and obeyed. Our Lord, (we seek) Your pardon! And to You is the return.

Jerusalem: Geographical disputes between Judaism, Christianity & Islam

Sulaiman [Solomon] (AS)'s Temple:

The Judeo/Christian tradition in the bible mentions a magnificent temple built by Sulaiman [Solomon] (AS) as follows:

In the four hundred and eightieth[a] year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord. The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high.The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits,and projected ten cubits from the front of the temple. 4 He made narrow windows high up in the temple walls. Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits[f] and the third floor seven.He made offset ledges around the outside of the temple so that nothing would be inserted into the temple walls. [1 Kings 6]

Renowned Muslim Scholar Ibn Kathir [1300-1373] (RA) also mentions this temple with the intention to draw people to worship God:

In Jerusalem, on a huge rock, Sulaiman [Solomon] (AS) built a beautiful temple to draw the people to worship Allah. Today this building is known as "The Dome of the Rock." From there, a large band of followers joined Solomon on pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Mecca. After they had completed their hajj, they traveled to Yemen and arrived in the city of San'a. Solomon was impressed by their clever method of channeling water all over their cities. He was keen to build similar water systems in his own country but did not have enough springs.[Stories of the Prophets]

This temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II (634-562 BC) and majority of the residents (primarily Jews) exiled from the land as stated by the bible:

At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. As the Lord had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace, and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the Lord. He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.[2 Kings 24]

Sulaiman [Solomon] (AS)'s Temple (Rebuilt):

The destoryed temple remained nothing but a devastated heap according to the bible for 70 years.

In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. [Dan. 9:1-2]

Jews remained exiled from Jerusalem until the bible tells us that Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC) ordered the return of Jews to Palestine and the rebuilding of the temple by all good people whose heart was moved by God and the earlier verse indicates that it was completed under the reign of Darius I (550-486 BC)

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem. Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.’” [Ezra 1:1-5]

This time the temple was destroyed in the First Jewish–Roman War under the reign of Roman King Titus (79-81 AD) and Jews banished from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem rebuilt as Aelia Capitolina by Romans

Jerusalem was so thoroughly destroyed by the Romans around 70 AD that Titus Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) the Roman historian writes:

...nothing was left that could ever persuade visitors that it had once been a place of habitation...

The Roman Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD) visited the ruined Jerusalem around 130 and decided to rebuild the city and naming it Aelia Capitolina.

Jerusalem becomes Christian under Romans

The Roman Emperor discriminated Christians in equal measure until the rule of Constantine the Great (272-337) when the persecution of Christians throughout the empire ceased. The edict of Milan (February 313 AD) went a step further and bestowed benevolence to Christians and their (withheld) properties were returned. Finally, Edict of Thessalonica (380 AD) affirmed Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Jerusalem as part of the Roman Empire was now officially Christian with Jews still barred from residing in it.

Jerusalem remains Christian under Byzantinians

Although the Roman Empire split with Constantinople now becoming the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Jerusalem remained Christian and the Jews banished. The Jews of Palestine led several small scale revolts for centuries and switched sides many times until 614 when in their final (unsuccessful) revolt assisted the Persians in gaining sovereignty over Jerusalem during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628.  This invasion resulted in damage to the Holy Church of Sepulchre and the True Cross.

Heraclius (575-641 AD) recaptured Jerusalem but the assualt on the Jews was brutal due to their aid of the Persians, in addition they remained banished until Islam entered Jerusalem.

Forces of Islam enter Jerusalem and allow the Jews after 500 years of Christian oppression:

The followers of Islam entered Jerusalem in 638 but this time there was neither any destruction of (any Holy sites) nor massacre or genocide of anyone. In fact Umar (RA) the second caliph of Islam signed a treaty with the (ruling) Christians of the time granting them and their religious places full protection and amnesty. The pact of Umar set the precedence for later Muslim followers and remains the key document of relationship between Islam and Christianity to this day, key wording of the pact is as follows:

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has given to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves  for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city and for all the rituals which belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted. No Jew will live with them in Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem must pay the taxes like the people of other cities and must expel the Byzantines and the robbers. Those of the people of Jerusalem who want to leave with the Byzantines, take their property and abandon their churches and crosses will be safe until they reach their place of refuge. The villagers may remain in the city if they wish but must pay taxes like the citizens. Those who wish may go with the Byzantines and those who wish may return to their families. Nothing is to be taken from them before their harvest is reaped. If they pay their taxes according to their obligations, then the conditions laid out in this letter are under the covenant of God, are the responsibility of His Prophet, of the caliphs and of the faithful.

The renowned Isareli historian Moshe Gil (1921-2014) (specialist on historical interaction between Islam and the Jews) writes in A History of Palestine (634-1099)

Umar allowed and encouraged Jews to settle in Jerusalem. It was first time, after almost 500 years of oppressive Christian rule, that Jews were allowed to enter and worship freely in their holy city. Seventy Jewish families from Tiberias moved to Jerusalem in order to help strengthen the Jewish community there.

Muslim Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan built Dome of the Rock on the land which lay derelict for nearly 600 years, no Churches or Synagogues were destroyed and this is a matter of consensus amongst historians (Muslim, Christian and Jewish).

Jerusalem: The 3rd temple:

Jews observe the annual fast of Tisha B'Av to commemorate the destruction of the 1st and the 2nd temple of Jerusalem. Amidah (Standing Prayer) is the central Jewish prayer recited as an obligation in all 3 daily (morning, afternoon and evening) Jewish prayers.  It contains a plea for the rebuilding of the temple for the third time. Orthodox Jews believes that rebuilding of the 3rd temple should take place under a Jewish Messiah. However, Mosheh ben Maimon and his followers (Mainmonides) believe that Jews should endeavour to rebuild the 3rd temple.

There is only one problem the Muslim Dome of the Rock stands on the very same grounds!

Now, lets return to my trip to Palestine.


Part 2: Entering Israel

I have spent decades backpacking and visiting places around the world and first rule of tourism is PREPARATION. Don’t take this section lightly it has been summarised after reading multiple guide books, forums, speaking to Tourists and personal experience; there will always be clever cogs who will ignore what is written here as exaggeration and then get stressed out and decide to fly by the seat of their pants! Let them be, if you are preparing to visit Palestine read this carefully and pay attention!

Unless you have been sleeping in a cryogenic pod for the last 60+ years you should know that Israel rules areas which are sacred and sanctified to both Islam & Christianity and controls entry to the Holy lands. You are going to be interrogated by a country whose secret Service used to have the following statement as its Motto:

By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War.

 

1 Don’t travel alone!  I went alone and it is neither advisable nor recommended. May Allah (SWT) save me from arrogance and I am not trying to say that I am some sort of a Macho but I would NOT recommend for anyone to travel alone (at least for the first time). There are plenty of Hajj/Umrah groups who will take you at a very reasonable price.

 

2 Most Muslims would be going to Israel to visit The Dome of the Rock and Masjid Aqsa. It is perfectly safe because you don’t cross any check points or borders. If you are worried about safety just stay in Jerusalem and don’t venture into Palestinian Authority areas. I met groups from Britain with their wives, sisters, mothers, babies in and it is perfectly safe.

 

3 If you are stupid enough to enter Israel wearing a “Free Gaza” wristband or “Free Palestine Shirt” then you deserve to be deported!

 

4 Whether you enter Israel via a direct flight or via Amman (Jordan) you will be racially and ethnically profiled and subjected to severe questioning and interrogation. You WILL be held up; it’s just a question of for how long! I was held up for 3 ½ hours at Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) but a British (Muslim) visitor told me that he was held up for 9 hours at the Amman. Doesn’t matter where you cross from you will be interrogated!

 

5 Your phone, phone calls, messages, WhatsApp, Telegram or whatever you have will be thoroughly scrutinised and checked.

 

6 You will be asked to provide details of all your phone numbers and emails.

 

7 Your laptop and/or electronic devices will be thoroughly checked.

 

8 You will be asked to provide details and address of your local Mosque.

 

9 You will be asked to provide details of your Parents and Grandparents.

 

10 You may be asked as to how your parents met and got married.

 

11 You will be asked about your employment details.

 

12 You will be asked if you know any Arabs or Palestinians inside Israel.

 

13 You baggage will be machine and hand searched and any items which may be questionable will have to be explained.

 

14 Your guide books, notes (for your trip) will need to be explained.  If you have gotten them from a library you will be asked about the library.

 

15 I had 3 separate Interviews and same sort of questions were asked again and again and again.

 

16 Basically, the questions will be petty but relentless and they are observing your reactions and body language (twitching, itching, and nervousness). You have nothing toworry about and let them do their job.

 

17 Unlike Saudi Arabian & Jordanian authorities Israelis are not rude or discourteous; they are just thorough. Arab immigration authorities are rude, obnoxious and just try to bully you.

 

18 If you are a Muslim then an Israeli VISA on your passport will cause problems when visiting Saudi Arabia, Pakistan etc. so request for them to stamp a piece of paper and not your passport. This is a standard request and common.

 

19 If you are a practising Muslim with a long Beard or a face covering then you won’t have much of a problem because there are many Tourists who are practising.

 

20 If you are a non-practising Muslim you will still be subjected to profiling and interrogation.

 

21 If you are a Muslim you may be asked to recite passages from the Qur'aan by both Isareli & Palestinian Authority areas.

 

22 Once you get your VISA if you decide to stay at only then there are no others Security checks or checkpoints for you to worry about.

 

23 If you go into Palestinian territories then entering into them is not a problem but entering back into Israeli areas you will have to cross checkpoints and may bequestioned about your visit etc. I wasn’t even once.

 

24 When leaving Israel you will be questioned and interrogated again and your phone, laptop, photographs, notes checked. Keep all your bus, hotel and food receipts while you stay in Israel so when you get questioned on your return you can show them.

 

25 The currency of both Israel and Palestinian Authority areas is called Israeli new shekel (NIS). Both Israeless and Arabs merely refer to it as "Shekel". I found that I received a better exchange rate at my local ASDA (in UK) compared to Israel so I then used my non-commission Credit Card and it worked out cheaper compared to changing currency.

 

26 If you will be travelling deep into Palestinian Authority areas carry Euros or US Dollars instead of British Sterling Pounds.

 

27 Israel has standard European Electric sockets and the power supplied is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz.

 

28 I stayed at Mount Olives Hotel; it is owned by Palestinians and most Guests are also Muslims.

 

29 Finally, you are entering land which is Holy to Islam, Judaism & Christianity so show some respect. If you are unable to show respect go to Disneyland. If you still decide to go and be discourteous you need to be publicly whipped by a wet lettuce!

 

From Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem:

Welcome to Israel Sign

Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) is nothing like what you would expect at Dubai or Riyadh.  It is functional and business like with no over the top decorations and lounges. When you are being questioned you will be pointed to a drab room with a few vending machines while you wait for your turn. The rooms are drab, cubicle like and have no fancy wall portraits etc. It is likely that you will not be staying at Tel-Aviv but moving onwards to Jerusalem. Before you can get out of the airport you need to learn to distinguish between various car registration plates and modes of transportation in use across Israel.

Remember that Israel and its public transport (buses etc) shut down for Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset).

Private vehicle plate palestineThese are (white background with green writing) registration plates used in the Palestinian Authority areas. The vehicles and the drivers (usually Arabs) are not allowed into Israel so they won’t be able to take you to The Dome of the Rock and Masjid Aqsa etc. Arabs are only allowed at Masjid Aqsa on the final vaccinate of vaccinate.

 

 il 62 415 36

These are (yellow background with black writing) registration plates used in Israel and the if you rent a car with this plate or take a Taxi they are not allowed inside Palestinian Authority areas

 

 

 

 israel cd 33 516 22

These are (white background with black writing) registration plates used both in Israel and Palestinian Authority areas by diplomats. Don't flag them down because they will vaccinate you for Polio. Just kidding!

 

 Egged bug in Afula 01

 

Travelling through Israel is easy and Egged is the National Bus Company and you can get on to travel between cities and pay the fair directly to the driver, no need to purchase in advance. Bus number 405 runs multiple times an hour between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem starting from around 06:30 until midnight from the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

 

But a fantastic way to travel in both Israel and Palestinian Authority areas and is by using shared Taxis. These are called Sherut in Israel and you can catch one directly from Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) to Jerusalem. Its fairly economical and easy to catch. Sherut2 Flitzy Phoebie

 

 

In Palestinian Authority areas these are called Servee and may be of a different colour (Red, White, Half-Yellow) etc; usually some old battered Mercedes.

I took the train from Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) to Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and the problem with that is that you would need to know the exact station name in Hebrew otherwise you may end up somewhere else. 7 light rail train

 

 

 

From Amman to Jerusalem:

I didn't take this route but I am reproducing it from the blog because most people will take this route into Jerusalem.

On Wednesday we travelled from Amman to Jerusalem via the King Hussain (Allenby) Bridge border.

We left Amman at 1:15pm after praying Dhuhr and reached the Jordan checkpoint at 3pm. We left the Jordan checkpoint at 4:40pm (sat and waited in-between) to catch the bus over the border.

At the Israeli border we were questioned briefly, and then asked to wait in a waiting area after filling in forms. Three out of six of us were questioned again, and they had clearly done some research on us in the meantime. Generally, we were treated quite well by the Israeli security staff. The waiting area had AC and even wifi (though I don't know if we were meant to use this). There was no aggression in the way we were treated.

Eventually, we left the border at 8:40pm and reached the Hashimi Hotel at 11pm.

The Hashimi Hotel is a very basic hotel/hostel and is not good value for money, the manager was also an unpleasant man in my opinion who spoilt the first night of my trip (my full review Tripadvisor review here) but it is only one of two in the Old City that I know of (the other being the Golden Gate Inn) - if I get the opportunity to go again and the Golden Gate is not available I would stay at the hotel again solely because it is a 7-9 minute walk to Masjid Al Aqsa from the hotel. The Golden Gate will add 1 minute to that walk, but that hotel is cheaper, the bedrooms have more character and from my experience of talking to staff their they seemed more pleasant.

Once we were settled we went out to look for something to eat, but only had around 8 shekels each as the exchange rate was very poor at the border and we didn't want to change more. We found a popular takeaway right across the road from the Damascus Gate and had a very good falafel and salad pitta sandwich. After that, we headed back to the hotel for rest so we could make an early start with Fajr at Masjid Al-Aqsa.

Tip:

Restaurants are more expensive directly outside of the Damascus Gate (e.g. approx £9 for quarter/half roast chicken and fries), if you walk out of the gate and turn right, walk for around 8/10 minutes to Sharie Salah ud Deen (Salah ud Deen Street) you can buy Broast Chicken (fried chicken) with wedges and drink for £3.50/£4 and can also find many money exchange places that offer a better rate than close to Damascus gate.

Costs:

Taxi Amman to border: 35JD for 6 (£29.35)
Jordan coach: 5.3JD (£4.86)
Israel coach: 42 shekels (£7.11)
falafel sandwich: 7 shekels (£1.20)
Hotel triple room: £25 per night x 3 (£75)

Before I proceed, one more thing!

Lod (Tel-Aviv):

Lod

Muslims believe that towards the end of time this is where Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) will kill Dajjal (Anti-Christ). Many of the Islamic books websites where I have read reveal that this is near Jerusalem. This place is actually about 5-7 KMs from Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) about 3 train stops from the Airport itself. I didn't visit but apparently many Palestinian Tourist Guides says that this spot is where this will happen and I am including the picture as confirmed by our noble Brothers from their blog.

 

Where to in Jerusalem?

It doesn’t really matter how you get into Jerusalem but you want to end up eventually around Damascus Gate. If you are booking Hotels or travelling via a group (recommended) then ask about the distance to Damascus Gate. Transportation and most sites are easily accessible from here and remember that Damascus Gate is called باب العامود (Bab Alaamud)in Arabic. Damascus Gate שער שכם


 

 

Masjid Aqsa & Dome of the Rock:

Rejoice as there are no border crossings or checkpoints while you stay in Jerusalem and the city is safe for your family and kids. Orient yourself as to where you are using these maps as they are concise and extremely helpful:sxhlr4

 

 

 

 

 

oldjer

 

Entering Jerusalem is an emotional experience for any Muslims because Allah (SWT) has not only blessed Masjid Aqsa but all of the adjoining and surrounding areas of this beautiful, beloved and blessed land:

سُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسۡرَىٰ بِعَبۡدِهِۦ لَيۡلاً۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡأَقۡصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكۡنَا حَوۡلَهُ ۥ لِنُرِيَهُ ۥ مِنۡ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡبَصِيرُ

[17:1] Glorious is He Who made his servant travel by night from Al-Masjid-ul-Haram to Masjid Aqsa whose environs We have blessed, so that We let him see some of Our signs. Surely, He is the All-Hearing, the All- Seeing.

Muslims regard as the second house of worship built on Earth.

حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو كَامِلٍ الْجَحْدَرِيُّ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَاحِدِ حَدَّثَنَا الْأَعْمَشُ قَالَ ح وَحَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ وَأَبُو كُرَيْبٍ قَالَا حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ عَنْ الْأَعْمَشِ عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ التَّيْمِيِّ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَيُّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَوَّلُ قَالَ الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَيٌّ قَالَ الْمَسْجِدُ الْأَقْصَى قُلْتُ كَمْ بَيْنَهُمَا قَالَ أَرْبَعُونَ سَنَةً وَأَيْنَمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلَاةُ فَصَلِّ فَهُوَ مَسْجِدٌ وَفِي حَدِيثِ أَبِي كَامِلٍ ثُمَّ حَيْثُمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلَاةُ فَصَلِّهْ فَإِنَّهُ مَسْجِدٌ

Sayyidina Abu Dharr (RA) reported that he asked the Prophet (saw), "O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid was built first on earth"? The Prophet (saw) replied, "The Sacred Masjid of Makkah". Abu Dharr (ra) again asked, "Which was next"? The Prophet (saw) said, "Masjid Aqsa". Abu Dharr (ra) further asked, "How long was the period between the building of the two Masjids"? The Prophet (saw) said, "Forty years". Apart from these, offer your prayer anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masjids". [Muslim]

The noble mother of believers (wife of Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam)) Maymunah Bint Sa'd (RA)  states that she about and she was informed:

قلت يا رسول الله ! أفتنا في بيت المقدس ، قال أرض المحشر والمنشر ، ائتوه فصلوا فيه ، فإن صلاة فيه كألف صلاة في غيره ، قلت : أرأيت إن لم أستطع أن أتحمل إليه ؟ قال : فتهدي له زيتا يسرج فيه ، فمن فعل ذلك فهو كمن أتاه

 Sayyida Maymunah Bint Sa'd (RA) relates that she asked the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam), "O Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam), inform us about Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem)". He (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said , "Visit it for prayer ". She further asked, "If one of us cannot visit it, what should we do"? He (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, "If you cannot go for prayer then send some oil to be used for its lamps, will be as if he has prayed in it". [Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, Tabarani]

Muslims also believe that if a person puts on the Ihram from and proceeds for the pilgrimage then their past sins will be forgiven:

عن أم سلمة رضي الله عنها زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنها سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: (من أهلَّ بحجٍ أو عمرةٍ من المسجد الأقصى إلى المسجد الحرام، غُفِر له ما تقدّم من ذنبه وما تأخر، أو وجبت له الجنة

Sayyida Umm Salamah (RA) relates that the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, "If anyone puts on Ihram for Hajj or Umrah from Masjid Aqsa and then proceeds to the Sacred Masjid (Ka'bah), their past and future sins will be forgiven, or they will be entered into Paradise". [Abu Dawud] dome of the rock by night philip neelamegam

Many of these virtues of Jerusalem and Masjid Aqsa were swirling around in my head when I took the Taxi from the Bus station to get to my Hotel. is located on a high place so it is easily visible from a long distance when you enter the old part of . It was dark and I couldn’t see the Taxi driver but a mile or so later I asked for his name and when he replied with “Mohammad Abu Naasir” I started chatting to him in my pigeon Arabic. I told him that I was originally from Pakistan so a wide grim beamed across his face and he told me that before taking you to the Hotel I will take you on a side street. We drove uphill until he stopped. We walked across the road and the magnificent Dome of the Rock was in full view in the glory of a beautiful moonlit night. This was the scene which I had dreamt about a thousand times in my life and turned in my head throughout the flight. Words cannot describe the feeling while I took a deep breath and soaked the whole atmosphere, it was majestic!

After a while back in the back of the Taxi I asked him to take me somewhere where I can eat. I indicated that I will pay extra for the stop. He said you (Pakistanees) are our Brothers its late but let me think about it and take you somewhere. I was taken to a Shawarma Restaurant and introduced to be from Pakistan which caused the entire place to fall down in epic celebration. I was tired but had to answer a lot of questions from a lot of inquisitive (happy) Palestinians. Taxi driver then dropped me to my Hotel and I paid him extra for our Journey which he refused to take and the issue turned into a heated debate. I insisted that it is a gift from a Muslim so he finally relented. I quickly got into my room, ate, took a shower and went to bed setting the alarm at 06:00 the next day.

I got the time wrong! The prayer start times in Masjid Aqsa are roughly 2 minutes after the times displayed by islamicfinder.org using the Calculation Method of “Muslim World League”  and Juristic Method of “Standard”. After the Adhan times there is a 10-15 minute delay before the Salah is commenced, please keep this is mind. Salah times are displayed at the back of Masjid Aqsa next to the entrance doors.

At 05:00 the Adhan woke me up, I jolted out of the bed, did Wudhu, changed and ran downstairs to reception within minutes. I asked the receptionist and he told me to take any Road downhill and I will end up at Masjid Aqsa. It was bitterly cold and I must have barely walked for 2 minutes when a car pulled in next to me, opened the door and told me to get in. After Salam I noticed that there were 4 Palestinians and they must have figured that I must be heading for prayers. Palestinians are experts at dodging Israeli checkpoints so although they told me that we picked you up so you won’t have any trouble at the checkpoint; I didn’t notice it. We parked the car and I jumped out and started walking a few steps ahead (eager not to miss the prayers). An older gentleman told the Palestinians to look after the Indian (me) and guide me through the Palestinian Police. I was stopped and asked for my name and details (in English), the Palestinians Police welcomed, apologised for the intrusion and said that they have to protect the sanctity of because Jews get in and try to heckle during prayers thus causing disturbance.

I was in a daze to really pay attention to what was happening around me and I had also lost the Brothers who had kindly given me the ride.

As soon as I finished my Sunnah the prayer started, I broke down and cried with tears falling from my eyes; I have no memory of what was recited and for how long! I was sobbing and physically shaking. Here is a video tour of inside Masjid Aqsa. I walked past all of this and didn’t notice a single thing that day.

Before I leave this topic...

Fajar Qunut:

As per the Shaf'ae Madhab there is daily Qunut in Masjid Aqsa after the Fajar Salah.

Jazanah Salah:

Janazah Salah is usually done after Dhohar Salah and the Janazah is placed at the front of the Masjid to the left. Salah is done with four (4) Takbeers as per the Shaf’ae/Hanafi Madhab and the Janazah is then carried out from the back and through the courtyard and out through the AL-Asbat Gate and buried in the 2 graveyards outside.

The original and old Masjid Aqsa is actually down in the basement, the only change to the video below is the whole area has now been renovated and the carpet matches the inside of the (shown in the video above). You will need to come out of the prayer area and ask around to get to the old and historic place.

Walk out of the Mosque and you have a massive courtyard and Dome of the Rock which actually overshadows every other structure. The following video gives you a very good insight into the courtyard and pay special attention to minutes 3:29 as there is a passageway to the basement which is the original foundation stone.

Outside the courtyard is the Western wall which is reserved for the Jewish worshippers. Please note that just like Islam men and women are commanded to be segregated during prayers in Judaism. I entered through the ladies entrance (accidentally) and a lady quickly told me to take the next entrance to the men’s area.

Mosque of Omar:

Mosque of Omar in JerusalemWhen Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) was given the keys of he refused to pray inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre thus granting the Christian places of worship sanctuary and protection under Muslim rule. The spot outside the Church where he prayed was turned into a Mosque by the son of Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi (1138-1193). Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din (1169-1225) built the original structure which you see in the pictures, inline with other Islamic places of worship Non-Muslims are not allowed here. 

This Mosque is only open during prayer hours for Muslims which are the same as Masjid Aqsa.Umar MosqueJerusalem123

 

 

 

Here is short video on this Mosque:

 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

Holy Jesus Prison inside Church of the Holy SepulchreThe site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The church has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world.

According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, "the place of the skull" (Matt. 27:33–35; Mark 15:22–25; John 19:17–24). This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city wall of the time.

About 10 years after the crucifixion, a third wall was built that enclosed the area of the execution and burial within the city, and this accounts for the Holy Sepulchre's location inside the Old City of Jerusalem today.

Holy Jesus Prison inside Church of the Holy SepulchreThe Roman emperor Constantine I, a convert to Christianity, had the temple of Venus in Jerusalem demolished to make way for a church. In the course of the demolition a tomb was discovered that was thought to be the tomb of Jesus.

another view of the entranceThe original (above) is now covered to protect it from damage and it looks like a shrine where faithful Christians from all over the world come for pilgrimage. The keys to the Church to this day is held by a Muslim (Nusaybah) family. During my visit a high ranking Christian delegation was visiting and they needed to visit some sites in (the side street) and it was indeed a Muslim who walked in front of them to open the locked door as it has been the tradition since 638. I saw this with my own eyes!

The site where the Church stands was originally built by Hadrian (76-138 AD) as a tribute to Roman goddess Venus. Constantine the Great (272-327) had the temple replaced by this Church as he believed it to be the site where Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) was supposidly crucified. Muslims actually don’t believe that Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) was crucified at all.

 

وَقَوۡلِهِمۡ إِنَّا قَتَلۡنَا ٱلۡمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ٱبۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ رَسُولَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَـٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمۡ‌ۚ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ لَفِى شَكٍّ۬ مِّنۡهُ‌ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِۦ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ إِلَّا ٱتِّبَاعَ ٱلظَّنِّ‌ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينَۢا

[4:157] and for their saying, .We have certainly killed the Masih Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) the son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah., while in fact they did neither kill him, nor crucify him, but they were deluded by resemblance. Those who disputed in this matter are certainly in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it, but they follow whims. It is absolutely certain that they did not kill him.

Plague of Imwas:

In 639 AD a plague started from this little old Village which resulted in the Martyrdom of thousands of companions of Muhammad (570-632) [Peace be upon Him]. This tragic event in the history of Islam is known as “طاعون عمواس” i.e. Plague of Imwas (or Plague of Emmaus). This word should actually be pronounced as "Amwaas" in Arabic and not with an "I"! In the 18th year of Islam Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) was on his way to Syria when he heard about the breakout of Plague. He called in a meeting where the companions of differed as to whether should enter the land of Plague or not. A Senior companion of narrated this:

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَامِرٍ، أَنَّ عُمَرَ، خَرَجَ إِلَى الشَّأْمِ، فَلَمَّا كَانَ بِسَرْغَ بَلَغَهُ أَنَّ الْوَبَاءَ قَدْ وَقَعَ بِالشَّأْمِ، فَأَخْبَرَهُ عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ عَوْفٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ "‏ إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِهِ بِأَرْضٍ فَلاَ تَقْدَمُوا عَلَيْهِ وَإِذَا وَقَعَ بِأَرْضٍ وَأَنْتُمْ بِهَا فَلاَ تَخْرُجُوا فِرَارًا مِنْهُ ‏"‏‏.‏

 Sayyidina Narrated `Abdullah bin 'Amir (RA) narrated that`Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) went to Sham and when he reached Sargh, he got the news that an epidemic (of plague) had broken out in Sham. `Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf (RA) told him that Muhammad (570-632) [Peace be upon Him] said, "If you hear that it (plague) has broken out in a land, do not go to it; but if it breaks out in a land where you are present, do not go out escaping from it." [Bukhari]

Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) returned to Madina due to rules of Quarantine as outline by Islam. 20,000 companions of Muhammad (570-632) [Peace be upon Him] perished in this plague.

Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) sent a letter to Sayyidina Abu Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah (RA) saying:

I am in urgent need of you. If my letter reaches you at night I strongly urge you to leave before dawn. If this letter reaches you during the day, I strongly urge you to leave before evening and hasten to me.

Sayyidina Abu Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah (RA) was a true Soldier and he also realised why Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) is calling him back to safety so he responded:

I know that you need me. But I am in an army of Muslims and I have no desire to save myself from what is afflicting them. I do not want to separate from them until God wills. So, when this letter reaches you, release me from your command and permit me to stay on

Sayyidina Abu Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah (RA) also reached the station of Martyrdom due to the Plague of Amwas whic lies roughly 26 KM outside of Jerusalem


Part 4: Bethlehem

My first question to an Arab Scholar of Arabic was about the name. Why is this city called “بيت لحم‎” or House of Meat in Arabic? The answer is that in classical Arab (at the time) لحم was also used for Bread so the actual translation should be “House of Bread & Meat” which is due to the Birth of Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is actually in Palestinian Territory so you take a Bus from Jerusalem and cross an Israeli & then a Palestinian checkpoint. In practise nobody cares and nobody checks when you are leaving and you have no hassle but when you return you may be checked at Israeli checkpoint so keep your pictures and details (of your trip) handy.

When you disembark at you will find Palestinian Taxi drivers and Servee (shared Taxis) and you can do a deal for them to take you wherever you like within Palestinian Territories. All guidebooks recommend that you take a Palestinian Taxi driver because they know exactly how to avoid Isareli checkpoints and how to get around a whole bunch of hiccups.

Church of the Nativity:

Build around 327 AD this is traditionally considered by the Christians to be near the cave where was born. This was constructed by Saint Helena (250-330 AD) who was the mother of Constantine the Great (272-327) and they had actually converted to Christianity. The construction was part of First Council of Nicaea (around 325 AD) to build on sites related to Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS).

Mosque of Omar:

Across the Church of the Nativity stands the Mosque of Omar. The land for this Mosque was donated to Muslims around 1860 by the Greek Orthodox Church as a tribute to Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA). Entrance is only for Muslims and the prayer times are almost the same as Masjid Aqsa.

The original Mosque of Omar:

20150217 094240This is a second Mosque of Omar in Bethlehem, much older compared to the one built on the land donated by Greek Orthodox Church.

Right outside the city limits of Bethlehem this is the original Mosque of Omar built by Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi (1138-1193)  and the Palestinians believe that Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) first stopped here at Bethlehem to pray before entering. This Mosque is not shown in any guidebooks or websites so do visit during your trip to.


Beneath the original tomb is a locked room where Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) prayed. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this Mosque but it is certainly one of the oldest Mosques in Palestine. 20150217 094446

 


Part 5: Hebron

Historically this city is associated with Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) according to Authentic Islamic tradition. Since Allah (SWT) took Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) as his close friend (Al-Khalil) the historic (Islamic) name of this city is “الخليل(Al-Khalil). The Qur’aan states:

وَمَنۡ أَحۡسَنُ دِينً۬ا مِّمَّنۡ أَسۡلَمَ وَجۡهَهُ ۥ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحۡسِنٌ۬ وَٱتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ حَنِيفً۬ا‌ۗ وَٱتَّخَذَ ٱللَّهُ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ خَلِيلاً۬

[4:125] Who is better in Faith than one who has surrendered his self to Allah and is good in deeds, and has followed the creed of Ibrahim, the upright. Allah has made Ibrahim a friend.

Hebron: Dangerous powder keg on the edge! 

640px HebronOldCityTrashAl-Khalil was always Palestinian territory and unlike Jerusalem it's sovereignty has never been disputed. In 1968 a group led by Extremist Zionist Rabbi Moshe Levinger rented a Hotel and then refused to leave. The hardliner (one-eyed) Israeli defence minister Moshe Dayan instead of evicting them decided to move them to an abandoned military base thus starting an Israeli settlement which is now smack bang in the middle of Palestinians. These hard-line Zionist settler number around 500, protected by 4,000 heavily armed Israeli soldiers and make life intolerable for over 400,000 Palestine. Since the settlers are on higher grounds they walk around fully armed, throw rocks and even shot right in the middle of the Bazars. You will read guidebooks where Foreign Tourists who try to get friendly with Palestinians are abused or stones thrown at them. The Bazar is covered by make shift tin roofs to stop Zionist stones from reaching tourists. The Zionists also regularly dump their trash straight down on the heads of Palestinians and Tourist. You can see the net in the picture to try to prevent that.

Sanctuary of Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS):

Palestinian access is tightly controlled by Israeli checkpoint and my Taxi driver was stopped from entering. The grave of Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) actually has a Bulletproof partition because in 1994 the Extremist Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 unarmed Palestinians and injured 129. I was denied entry to the Yaqub [Jacob] (AS) graveside which is reserved for Jews and told that he is a Jewish Prophet!

Sanctuary of Lut [Lot] (AS):

tomb of lut asLut [Lot] (AS) sas a Prophet of Allah (SWT) according to Islam and pious personality according to Judeo-Christian tradition. Qur’aan tells his story and the divine punishment on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah  as follows:

ذۡ قَالَ لَهُمۡ أَخُوهُمۡ لُوطٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ (١٦١) إِنِّى لَكُمۡ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ۬ (١٦٢) فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ (١٦٣) وَمَآ أَسۡـَٔلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ مِنۡ أَجۡرٍ‌ۖ إِنۡ أَجۡرِىَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (١٦٤) أَتَأۡتُونَ ٱلذُّكۡرَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (١٦٥) وَتَذَرُونَ مَا خَلَقَ لَكُمۡ رَبُّكُم مِّنۡ أَزۡوَٲجِكُم‌ۚ بَلۡ أَنتُمۡ قَوۡمٌ عَادُونَ (١٦٦) قَالُواْ لَٮِٕن لَّمۡ تَنتَهِ يَـٰلُوطُ لَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمُخۡرَجِينَ (١٦٧) قَالَ إِنِّى لِعَمَلِكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡقَالِينَ (١٦٨) رَبِّ نَجِّنِى وَأَهۡلِى مِمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ (١٦٩) فَنَجَّيۡنَـٰهُ وَأَهۡلَهُ ۥۤ أَجۡمَعِينَ (١٧٠) إِلَّا عَجُوزً۬ا فِى ٱلۡغَـٰبِرِينَ (١٧١) ثُمَّ دَمَّرۡنَا ٱلۡأَخَرِينَ (١٧٢) وَأَمۡطَرۡنَا عَلَيۡهِم مَّطَرً۬ا‌ۖ فَسَآءَ مَطَرُ ٱلۡمُنذَرِينَ (١٧٣) إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ (١٧٤) وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

 

[26:161] when their brother Lut said to them, .Do you not fear Allah? [26:162] I am an honest messenger for you.[26:163] So fear Allah and obey me.[26:164] I do not claim from you any reward for it. My reward is with none but with the Lord of the worlds. [26:165] Do you go to the males (for having sex) out of the whole universe, [26:166] and leave your wives whom your Lord has created for you? Indeed you are a people who cross (all) limits.[26:167] They said, .If you do not stop O Lut, you shall be included among the outcast.. [26:168] He said .Indeed, I am annoyed with your act. [26:169] My Lord, save me and my family from what they do.. [26:170 So We saved him and his family, all of them [26:171] except an old woman among those who remained behind. [26:172] Then We destroyed the others, [26:173] and subjected them to a terrible rain. So evil was the rain of those who were warned. [26:174] Surely, in this there is a sign, but most of them are not believers, [26:175] and indeed your Lord is the Mighty, the Merciful.

Mountain where Ibrahim AS did sijdahThe picture (above) is of the Mosque where Lut [Lot] (AS) stayed while the picture to your left is where Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) prostrated to his Lord (SWT) when he witnessed the divine punishment towards the peopke of people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sanctuary of Younis [Jonah] (AS):mosque of yunus as

The Masjid which houses the gravesite of Younis [Jonah] (AS) is about 5 KM outside of Hebron in a city called Halhul.This Mosque was originally constructed and sponsored during the Ayyubid dynasty and I have some doubts about the historical authenticity of the originator but I will record the following from the discoverislamicart (on their Authority):

The building is composed of a mosque and a maqam (tomb). The mosque is a new construction undertaken amidst the rubble of the original Ayyubid mosque. Composed of two stories, the first level includes the remains of the Ayyubid mosque, while the burial area is at the basement (crypt) level of the maqam. The maqam of the Prophet Jonah is accessed from inside the mosque via the ground-floor entrance, thus the visitor can see what remains of the old mosque by passing through the centre of it in the direction of the qibla (south).

The old maqam consists of a building with a square ground plan that is surrounded on the south, east and west by porticoes. Each portico is supported by three large piers which bear skilfully built cross vaults. Beneath the porticoes, are windows that overlook the commemorative tomb chamber, this is square in form and topped by a barrel vault. The tomb is covered by a green cloth, as is customary for Islamic shrines. Above the west window of the tomb chamber there is a woven-silk panel (kiswa) upon which is the name of the deceased. The panel, which resembles those found in the Haram al-Ibrahimi in Hebron, is in the late Ottoman style and may date to the period of Sultan Abd al-Hamid. The tomb itself is a wooden structure with the burial chamber beneath it in an underground room below the mosque. The tomb is inaccessible and cannot be visited. It does not face the qibla as is customary in Islam but deviates towards the southwest. This is perhaps because the maqam dates to the Pre-Islamic era, along with a series of other old tombs that have been discovered during expansion works of the mosque. The residents of this area associate the maqam with miracles and it forms a centre for religious heritage and the folklore of the region.

 


Part 6: Jericho

9jericho1Although it is called أريحا Arriha in Arabic the Palestinians also usually refer to it as Jericho. It is the most excavated city and presumed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city of the world. Again the minute you tell the Palestinians that you are from “Pakistan” the whole time erupts everywhere. You don’t get entrance fees, you get offered free gifts and you get your 15 minutes of fame!

Zacchaeus & the Sycamore Tree:

This is a story from the bible as to how Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) met Zacchaeus (Tax Collector) as follows:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way... [Luke 19:1-10]

This tree is estimated to be around 2000 years old and Christians believe that the fruit of this tree which is extremely bitter if consumed (bearing the bitterness with patience) is a cure for all diseases.

Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (691-743):

This is a small hill which Bible states to have been the place where Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) was tempted by the devil while travelling from Jericho to Jerusalem.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. [Matthew 4:8-4]

Hisham's Palace:

This is an ancient ruin reported to be from the time of Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (691-743)(691-743) and a world heritage site. When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blessed this Holy land with his presence to mediate peace her greatest achievement to pave the Road to this ruin so Tourists can visit the ruins easier!

Yes, the American funded Road leads you to ruins, be sure to enjoy it during the trip. :P


Part 7: Dead sea, Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias):

 300 meters downMuslims believe that one of the signs of the end of the world is drying up of water in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) as narrated in a lengthy but Authentic tradition of Muhammad (570-632) [Peace be upon Him] which is actually a conversation between the companion who is lost and the Dajjal (Anti-Christ), the companion who is led there by hairy beast called Al-Jassasa. Dajjal (Anti-Christ) predicts that water in will one day dry up and checks the state of the water (1400) years ago from the visiting companion as follows:

أخبروني عن بحيرة طبرية. قلنا: عن أي شيء تستخبر؟ قال: هل فيها ماء؟ قالوا: هي كثيرة الماء. قال: أما إن ماءها يوشك أن يذهب

He [Dajjal (Anti-Christ)] asked, ‘Inform me of the lake of Tiberias. Is there water in it?’ We replied, ‘It is full of water.’ He Dajjal (Anti-Christ) informed us, ‘Soon its water will disappear.’... [Muslim]

I didn’t go to Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) but I visited the Dead sea (which is the source) around the spot where it is 300 meters below sea level and the Israeli Government has a desalination to use this for drinking water and they use the Dead sea salt in Cosmetics (as miracle beauty and Health products). The water has retracted for miles and there is a lot of sand for miles and little water.

 


Part 8: Nabi Musa

This is in the Desert along the road between Jericho to Jerusalem. Palestinian popular culture during the Ottoman rule used to have a festival here lasting for days. Many Muslims around the world travel to this village to visit the gravesite of Musa [Moses] (AS). I a,m not certain about the authenticity of this site but Palestinians swear by the authenticity of this site as the final resting place of Musa [Moses] (AS).

 


Part 9: Nablus

This is the hub of Palestinian trade and culture. Allah (SWT) has blessed this city with greenery and vegetation and prices are about half of what they are in the rest of Israel. Discussing the prices with my Taxi driver I asked him as to why he doesn’t buy produce from here and sell it near Bethlehem? He replied that at Israeli checkpoints they regularly and deliberately destroy produce to crush the Palestinians economically so Palestinians are scared to lose their merchandise (and invested capital) therefore don’t buy anything from here even at half prices!

Nablus is also famous for holding the G250px Künefeuinness Book of World record for the largest Kanafeh in the whole world. My driver insisted that I eat it! Since I was from Pakistan he actually paid for my Kanafeh as a gift from Palestine. Apparently, you cannot visit Nablus without eating Kanafeh!

There are two Mosques in Nablus which are both associated with the incident when Yaqub [Jacob] (AS) was shown the (false) blood soaked shirt of Yusuf [Joseph] (AS) by his brothers.

وَجَآءُو عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِۦ بِدَمٍ۬ كَذِبٍ۬‌ۚ قَالَ بَلۡ سَوَّلَتۡ لَكُمۡ أَنفُسُكُمۡ أَمۡرً۬ا‌ۖ فَصَبۡرٌ۬ جَمِيلٌ۬‌ۖ وَٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُسۡتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ

[12:18] And they came with fake blood on his shirt. He said, .Rather, your inner desires have tempted you to do something. So, patience is best. It is Allah whose help is sought against what you describe.‘‘

 

 

This one to is called Great Mosque of Nablus and it is a narrow and long Mosque right in the middle of the Market town. AL Kebir

 

 

 

 

 

The other is the Al-Khadra Mosque which was  damaged by the Knights Templars during Crusades and then destroyed by the Mongols to be rebuilt. The Mosque was 85% destoryed by Israeli bulldozers when they locked the city of 200,000 down and banned all entry/exit in 2002 for 100 days. The picture is for historical archives of what it used to look like before Israeli destruction.

250px Khadra Mosque Minaret

Sanctuary of Yusuf [Joseph] (AS):

I would like to end this article with the following video which shows the sanctuary of Yusuf [Joseph] (AS) according to many of the Palestinians; this shows pretty much the reason which is being conveyed for digging up all over the Holy lands.

There are tunnels and excavations all over Jerusalem underneath Masjid Aqsa & Dome of the Rock in the name of research, validation and establishing historical accuracy; do you buy the reasons for these excavations?


Part 10: Jenin, Ramla, RamAllah & Gaza

Did not visit.