Cii News & Agencies | 13 August 2012
Muslim custodianship of Masjidul Aqsa is again facing serious danger. Recent moves by the US State Department and Israeli lawmakers have prompted Islamic Authorities in Jerusalem to warn against plans for complete Zionist dominion of Islam’s Third Holiest site.
The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage (AFEH) last week called on the Arab and Muslim world to intervene immediately to stop the implementation of widely publicised schemes to split the Aqsa mosque between Muslims and Jews, saying it considered the repeated storming of the mosque by right wingers as a prelude to further escalation.
At the heart of the latest danger is a bill drafted by a right-wing Israeli Member of Parliament that mandates separate hours for Jewish and Muslim prayer at the holy site. Under the guise of religious pluralism, MK Arieh Eldad of the National Union party is proposing ‘freedom of worship’ at the ‘Temple Mount’ (a Zionist name for Masjidul Aqsa) for Muslims, Christians and Jews. “The Temple Mount is the holiest place for the Jewish People, where the First and Second Temple stood.It is also a holy place for Muslims, and is the site of the Aqsa Mosque. It also has a special status in Christianity,” Eldad told the Jerusalem Post.
He has suggested that the site be open to Jews every day, except for Friday, the Muslim holy day, and on other Muslim holidays. He has further promulgated that Muslims be allowed to use the premises every day but be barred from entry on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the bill recommends Jews be allowed to worship daily at Al Aqsa from 8-11 a.m., 2-6 p.m. and 9-11 p.m, ominously coinciding with many Muslim prayer times. Muslims, it said, could pray at the site from 4-7 a.m., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m, every day.
The bill is yet to be officially submitted because the Knesset is still on an extended summer recess.
Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem says the plan is modeled on a similar division of the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron where the Prophet Ibrahim(AS) is buried. That mosque was divided into Muslim and Jewish sections by the Israeli government after a 1994 massacre that killed 29 Muslim worshippers and left 150 others wounded.
Since then, Israeli authorities have violated Muslim rights in the Ibrahimi Mosque under the pretext of preserving Jewish holidays and have restricted Muslims from praying in the mosque. Israeli officials have also prevented the call to prayer for morning and evening prayers at the mosque from being established.
Moulana Igsaan Hendricks of the AlQuds Foundation told Cii that Israel had consciously adopted the approach of division to Masjidul Aqsa after it realised that any attempts at destruction were too perilous. “Israel knows the destruction of Masjidul Aqsa is a red light that will ignite the wrath of the Ummah. Therefore, unable to destroy Al Aqsa, it now wants to divide the masjid,” he said.
He bemoaned the lack of inactivity from Muslims globally regarding the repeated threats to the Holy Site. “If we are not vigilant, and do not heed the call of Sheikh Raed Salah in Occupied Palestine 1948 to thwart the Zionist plans, we will soon see what happened to the Buraq Wall(now the Wailing Wall) being repeated elsewhere at Masjidul Aqsa,”
Adding fuel to the proposals for division, is a recent US State Department report that “criticises” Israel for not allowing non-Muslims to pray at Masjidul Aqsa. In its’ International Religious Freedom Report released two weeks ago, the State Department expressed disappointment that non-Muslims were denied opportunities to worship at the Haram al-Sharif. “While the [Israeli] government ensured limited access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to everyone regardless of religious beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site, although their access has been occasionally restricted due to security concerns. Police regulated traffic in and out of the compound and removed non-Muslim visitors if they appeared to be praying.”
The report also took issue with the Jordanian Waqf that manages the site for restricting non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock and Masjidul Al-Aqsa Mosque. “Non-Muslim religious symbols are not allowed to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif,” it remarked.
Despite the growing threats, Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands, said he felt reassured that the Israeli occupation would never succeed in its attempts to divide the Aqsa Mosque. “Despite the occupation and the horror of his actions, constraints and restrictions, our people keep flocking to the holy Aqsa Mosque in Ramadan and this is not just a religious message, but it is also a clear political message to the occupation saying to it ‘do whatever you like and impose as much restrictions as you like, you cannot take us away from the Aqsa Mosque,’” Khatib was quoted as saying.
Tags: Al Quds Foundation, Buraq Wall, Dome of the Rock, Israel, Masjidul Aqsa, Moulana Igsaan Hendricks, Palestine, Temple Mount, US State Department, Wailing Wall, Zionism