Close your eyes and imagine. Imagine this… Cobblestoned alleys with cobbles worn smooth from hundreds of years of people walking and running upon them. The bustle and busyness of people going about their way, tourists with eyes full of awe and wonder, and locals selling every item from fruit to spices to sweets to pots and clothes. Freshly pressed fruit juice, strong fragrant coffee, ice cold cold-drink, pastry dripping with honey, freshly baked bread … all of this available at almost every corner. The melodious tones of the adhaan being called out from various directions, so sweet to the ear… This is Al Masjid Al Aqsa, Jerusalem – a MUST visit for every Muslim today.
I have had the blessed opportunity to visit Al Masjid Al Aqsa three times in my life Alhamdulillah. Each time I visited, I enjoyed it more and more, and each time I felt more peace and contentment, and happiness to be in this beautiful place. This special and unique place, has the ability to make you fall love and now my heart yearns to go back often to Al Masjid Al Aqsa.
The scene I described earlier is what you will encounter on a visit to the Old City in Jerusalem. The Old City is a vibrant and busy place filled with history and character. It is within the Old City that you will find the sanctuary which is Al Masjid Al Aqsa. A compound behind four walls, which houses the two iconic structures known to many as Masjid Qibli and The Dome of The Rock. Interestingly, this entire compound is considered to be Masjid Al Aqsa and anywhere you pray will be extra rewarding. I would also recommend a guided tour of the Old City, especially as it holds a vast Islamic History including stories from the times of Ibrahim (as), Umar Al Khattab (ra) and Salahuddin Ayyoubi. Every salaah I prayed at Al Masjid Al Aqsa felt special, extra sincere and peaceful. As did every time I sat to recite Quran. The only other place I ever experienced anything similar, was in the beautiful lands of Makkah and Madinah.
Many people may say it is difficult to travel to Masjid Al Aqsa, and that is why they do no visit. While it is a bit more complicated than other countries, travelling to Masjid Al Aqsa once you’ve set the intention is quite easy and completely manageable. In fact, it is probably safe to say that it is easier for you to pray inside Masjid Al Aqsa from wherever in the world you are than it is for Palestinians living in Jerusalem! I have travelled twice from South Africa to Jordan, and crossed at the Allenby border; and once from London directly to Tel Aviv. Alhamdulillah on all three occasions I did not have any problem getting in, and after a few hours of waiting and questioning we were allowed to enter the country. I would also recommend staying at the Golden Walls Hotel, which is located just outside the gates of the Old City and a 5-minute walk to the Masjid. The hotel is comfortable, clean, offers a fantastic breakfast and dinner and was perfectly suitable to my needs – did I mention the complementary Wi-Fi?
So if you’ve always thought of going, or wondered what it is all about – I would highly recommend you take the plunge, book your ticket and prepare for a life changing experience. I guarantee you; you will want to keep returning! One thing that stuck with me from my last visit was how much it means to the Palestinian people when they see foreigners visiting. It shows them that the world hasn’t forgotten them and they are not alone. Masjid Al Aqsa and the Palestinian people have touched a place in me, deep in my heart and I’m sure it and they will do the same to you. I have never experienced hospitality and friendliness as I did with the people of Jerusalem, from sharing their meals to conversation and a simple smile, I felt so welcome and at home at the Masjid I never wanted to leave. In fact, I even made a really good friend there who I still keep in contact with and InshAllah plan to see again when I visit again. Well, what about you? Masjid Al Aqsa is waiting for you. InshAllah.
Sister Umm Abdurrahman from South Africa – 2016
- April 28, 2016
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