“This not a religious issue, so let’s not make it a religious matter. This is about occupation!” These were the unequivocal words of Maulana Igshaan Hendricks, in condemning the desecration of the mighrab inside Masjidul Aqsa on Wednesday, in what many regard as the most shocking attack on the holy site since 1967. Several images emerged on social media on Wednesday afternoon, showing Israeli forces entering and desecrating the inside of Masjidul-Aqsa. The photos showed the mimbah damaged, Qurans that were tossed on the floor, carpets being burned, and several other items being destroyed. The incident provoked widespread outrage, and further stoked tensions in the City of Jerusalem.
The incident comes during a particularly hostile period between Israeli and Palestine, following intense clashes in Jerusalem over the last month. Masjidul-Aqsa has been at the centre, with now almost daily attempts by Israeli right wing groups and Knesset members to enter the compound, and pray within the religious Islamic site.
Wednesday’s incident coincided with a march held through the streets of the Cape Town CBD. Organized by the Al-Quds Foundation of South Africa and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), the march saw several hundred protestors chanting against Israel’s attempts to occupy the masjid.
Hendricks, who serves as president of both organizations, said such attempts to desecrate Al-Aqsa were becoming an almost daily occurrence. What was alarming about Wednesday’s attempt however was that the radicals
were able to enter the compound, reaching all the way up to the mosque’s mimbar.
“Yesterday was the first time in a long time that they directly got inside the Masjid. The point of the mimbar is always very significant,” he said.
The last time such an attempt was made was back in August 1969, when Australian citizen Denis Michael Rohan infamously set fire to the mimbar. He was later arrested on charges of arson, before being declared mentally unstable. The mimbar in Masjidul-Aqsa holds particular significance, as it marks the capture of Jerusalem by Salahuddin Ayubi, from the European Crusaders.
Over the course of the last two weeks, Masjidul-Aqsa has also been subject to multiple forced closures at the hands of Israeli authorities. Israeli authorities have stated that the closure was motivated by security reasons, as an attempt to quell the violence in the city. However, Hendricks rubbished those claims, stressing that it part of the Zionist occupiers agenda to enhance their grip on Al-Aqsa, with the hope of furthering their plans to divide the mosque.
“This is where we begin to see that it is no more the unilateral action of certain radical groupings, but fully under the mandate of the Zionist occupation, and the government of Israel,” he claimed.
He insisted the obligation was on civil society, the international community, and the Muslim community as a whole to mobilize in their support for the upholding of Masjidul-Aqsa’s sanctity.
The MJC leadership has also released a statement urging members of the local and international Muslim communities, to observe a day of fast on Thursday the 6th November. They will also be hosting a special Iftaar program on Thursday evening at the Masjidul Ishraaq, Grassy Park. Addresses will be delivered by Hendricks and Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels amongst others, who will give updates on the current events unfolding around al-Aqsa.
Local ulema have also been urged to recite a Dua e Qunoot Nazila at their respective mosque’s, during the Jumuah salaah on Friday 7th November. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)