As Muslims around the world begin observing the auspicious month of Ramadan, a group of South Africans are using this month to highlight the plight of those who find themselves in war-torn countries. In a show of solidarity with the people of Palestine, the group will travel to Jerusalem and observe I’tikaaf in Masjid al-Aqsa.
Where people from many countries make the journey to observe I’tikaaf in the masjid, the biggest contingent hails from the United Kingdom and South Africa.
One of the members of South African group, Ayoob Dadabhay, said that the South African group has made the trip for the past nine years, with the group size increasing each year, as the show of solidarity has proven to ease access for Palestinians.
“Throughout the year the Palestinians cannot use Masjid al-Aqsa as much as they want, but with us present the Israeli soldiers are a bit more lenient,” he said.
While the journey speaks to the plight of Palestinians, he noted the trip grants individuals the opportunity to commemorate the Mi’raj, as Muslim the world over yearns to make salah in Masjid al-Aqsa.
“It’s so amazing that you could be standing where one of the ambiya (Prophets) stood, there is no better feeling than that.”
Dadabhay further noted that the group does not expect to be met with contestation by Israeli authorities as they previously entered fairly undisturbed, with only a three and a half hour wait at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport.
“When you are doing Allah’s work, Allah makes things easy for you,” Dadabhay added.
Though foreigners are generally allowed access to the premises of the mosque compound, Palestinians are granted filtered access, where entry is permitted at certain times and restricted to the aged.
“Palestinians tell us that we come from a thousand kilometres away and we can enter masjid Al-Aqsa on a daily basis.”
Dadabhay, therefore, encouraged South African Muslims to make the trip for I’tikaaf in Masjid al-Aqsa and experience the month of Ramadan with Palestinians.
“All the food is great, even the imams of al-Aqsa join us for a meal.”
He said travellers will not require a visa, but will require a flight ticket, and while those who sit for nafl I’tikaaf book rooms for their luggage and basic travelling requirements, the entire group sleeps in the haram.
“When you go to Makkah and Madina you go for yourself, but when you go for I’tikaaf in Palestine, you go for the people.”
For more information, contact Ayoob Dadabhay on: 082 786 0078
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