In his Jumu’ah khutbah today, Imam Dr. Rashied Omar reflected on the recent protests by Palestinian Muslims who refused to pray inside Masjid al-Aqsa. This after Israeli security forces installed metal detectors at all entrances to the precinct. The imam commended the resistance of Palestinians and urged Muslims to continue their show of solidarity with Palestinians.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Dispenser of Grace
Masjid al-Aqsa Under Attack
Friday 288h July 2017/4thDhul Qa`dah1438
Imam A. Rashied Omar
Allah, the Lord of Compassionate Justice, proclaims in the Glorious Qur’an in surah Bani Isra’il, chapter 17 verse 1:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ
إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ
لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آَيَاتِنَا إِنَّه هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Limitless in His glory is Allah who transported his servant by night from the inviolable House of Worship (al-Masjid al Haram) to the remote House of Worship (al-Masjid al-Aqsa), the surroundings of which We had blessed, so that We might show him some of our symbols and signs for verily, Allah alone is all-Hearing, all-Seeing. (Q17:1)
The famous fourteenth century classical commentator of the Qur’an, Isma`il Ibn Kathir who died in Damascus, Syria, in 1373,asserts that al-Masjid al-Aqsa(literally the furthest house of worship) as mentioned in the above verse of the Qur’an isBayt al-Maqdis(literally the house of the Holy) in Jerusalem. Indeed, “Masjid al-Aqsa” and Bayt al-Maqdis” are used interchangeably in the hadith literature as can be gleaned from the following prophetic tradition narrated by the female companionMaymunah bint Sa`ad (may Allah be pleased with her). She once inquired from the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s everlasting peace and blessings be upon him):
“O Messenger of Allah! Inform us about Bayt al-Maqdis?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied by saying: “It is the land where people will be gathered and resurrected (on the Day of Judgment). Go and pray (make salah) in it, for a salah in it is the equivalent of a thousand prayers in other masajid,” She then asked: “What if I could not reach it (to make salah in it).” The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Then send a gift of oil to it in order to be lit in its lanterns, for the one who does so is the same as the one who has been there.”
(This hadithcan be found in the ahadith collections of Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the Sunan of al-Bayhaqi).
Classical Muslim scholars have understood the above hadith to mean that it is not only a religious obligation for Muslims to visit and perform salah atMasjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, but also to assist with itsmaintenance and preservation. We should also remind ourselves, that Masjid al-Aqsa does not only refer to the famous ‘Dome of the Rock’, but to the entire precinct that includes Masjid al-Qibly, Masjid al-Buraq and Masjid al-Marwani.
The regrettable killings which have occurred at Masjid al-Aqsaon 14 July 2017, after which metal detectors and surveillance cameras were installed at the entrances to the precinct, have reminded us that for the past fifty years, since the so-called six day war of 1967, this Islamic obligation has been impairedas a result of the Zionist Israeli occupation of Masjid al-Aqsaand surrounding land of Palestine.
In my khutbah today, I would like to commend the courageous resistance of the Palestinian people, which led to a modest victory when the Israeli regime was pressurized to remove their metal detectors and surveillance cameras from the entrances ofMasjid al-Aqsa. Furthermore, I would also like to urge Muslims as well as all peace and justice loving people to continue to support and show solidarity with oppressed Palestinians who are resisting the malevolent Zionist Israeli intentions to assert their control and sovereignty over this sacred sanctuary and indeed all of the land of Palestine.
Israel’s Illegal Occupation
It might be expedient to begin by reminding ourselves and the world that according to a number of United Nations resolutions taken over the past fifty years, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, includingMasjid al-Aqsa, is regarded as a brazen infringement of international law and thus illegal according to the international community. The most recent of these was UN Security Council resolution 2334adopted on the 23 December 2016. The resolution states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”. It furthermore demands that Israel stop such settlement activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying forceunder the Fourth Geneva Convention.
It is important to proclaim loudly and clearly that the courageous Palestinian resistancethat we have witnessed during the second half of the month of July isnot merely about the removal of the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, but it is also about the illegal Zionist Israeli occupation of Masjid al-Aqsa, and Palestinian lands.
Moreover, the oppressed people of Palestine view the new “security measures” as Israel seeking to assert and further expand their control over Masjid al-Aqsa.They are well-aware that Israel is only using the pretense of security to continue their settler colonial acts of ethnic cleansing Palestinians from their land, erasing their homes and their religious sites. Over the past half a century the Zionist Israeli settler regime have been busy excavating beneath Masjid al-Aqsa in pursuit of finding Jewish ruins. According to Professor Meir Ben-Dov, the head of the Hebrew University Mission, who was one of the leaders of these excavations, acknowledges that they have not found a single relic of significance, not even a coin or a piece of pottery.
It is therefore not surprising that these new Israeli“security measures”were arrogantly implemented without consulting the Imams and administrators ofMasjid al-Aqsa. In fact, Palestinian religious officials and worshippers have justified their resistance to the current security measures by pointing to their past experience over the Ibrahimi masjid which is located next to the Tomb of the Patriarchs site in the West Bank city of al-Khalil also known as Hebron. At this sacred site Palestinians saw similar measures being used by the Israeliswhich eventually led to severely controlled Palestinian access and the facilitation of worshipping rights to Zionist settlers.
It is no small wonder that Palestinians regard the preservation of, and free passage to sacred sites, especiallyMasjid al-Aqsa, as symbolic of the broader struggle of Palestinians for the liberation of their occupied lands and for the restoration of their dignity and human rights. Masjid al-Aqsa and the broader city of Jerusalem, known by Palestinians as al-Quds al-Sharif, is seen as the centre of Palestinian national identity that exists above both factional politics and disagreements over strategy. It is a national symbol embraced by secular and religious Palestinians.
It is thus truly inspirational to witness that Palestinian Muslims are not fighting for their right to peacefully access Masjid al-Aqsa without Zionist intrusions all on their own. Christians, Jews, and secularists are all standing in solidarity with Muslims and partaking in the protests, proving that Israeli oppression affects all Palestinians. According to media reports some Christians joined Muslims in protesting the illegal Zionist encroachments at al-Masjid al-Aqsa. The protest banner of a Christian priest read as follows: “Al-Aqsa cried out for help, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher responded Labbayka Ya Quds Labbayka” (At your service O Aqsa, at your service). A few Bethlehem churches even closed their doors last Sunday, and asked their parishioners to instead join protests at Masjid al-Aqsa, and after the removal of the metal detectors, Palestinian Christian clergymen went on a tour of al-Aqsa to congratulate Muslims on their victory.
Boycott the Apartheid State of Israel
At this distressing time, we once again reiterate a call to ourSouth African government to condemn the latest Israeli infringements on the rights of Palestinians, and to not merely downgrade the Israeli embassy in South Africa but to shut it down completely, expel the Israeli Ambassador from our country, and cut all diplomatic ties with the apartheid State of Israel. We also once again call on our government, civil society organizations and citizens to support the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against the apartheid state of Israel.
Please join me at this sacred time in a special du`a (prayer) for the liberation of Masjid al-Aqsa and all of the oppressed people of Palestine:
Ya Arhamar Rahim!
O Most Compassionate and Merciful of those who show Compassion and Mercy,
As conflict and violence deepens in occupied Palestine,
its people are in urgent need of Your Mercy and Compassion.
O One who is All-Powerful and Irresistible in Might,
Masjid al-Aqsa holds a very important and special place in our heart,
We ask You to protect it from capture by Zionist forces.
O Allah comfort the hearts of Palestinians and heal their trauma,
Shower upon them courage and resilience to resist their enemies
so that they may overcome tragedies and indignities,
and reclaim their land.
Ya Rabb al-Hikmati
O God who is All-Wise
Inspire us to the best ways of displaying our solidarity with
the oppressed people of Palestine,
Empower individuals and communities to be earnest and tenderhearted in their support.
O Allah we pray that world leaders will find the imagination and strength to reach
out to each other in love and hope, so that conflict may turn to peace, oppression to freedom, and occupation to liberation,
Allahumma Antas Salam
O Allah thou Art Peace
Wa minkas Salam
And Peace Comes from Thee
Allow us O Lord to live and subsist in Peace.