Attacks and threats on Masjid al-Aqsa
Al-Quds, having the long history in humanity… The heart of Quds and the world, Masjid al-Aqsa
“Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).” (Al-Isrá, verse 1)
The Istanbul Peace Platform is a civilian solidarity group that aims to contribute to the creation of a world ruled by justice and peace. The platform was formed in early 2009 by a number of Istanbul-based nongovernmental organizations.
The Istanbul Peace Platform aims at contributing to building justice and peace by working out settlement to current humanitarian crises, conflicts and violations, and taking precautionary measures to prevent likely crises.
The Istanbul Peace Platform prioritizes building peace worldwide on behalf of humanity. Peace is, undoubtedly, the best choice for the common future of humanity.
IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation
The Union of NGOs of The Islamic World (UNIW)
MAZLUMDER Istanbul Branch
Civilization, Science, Culture, Education and Solidarity Association (Medeniyet İlim Kültür Eğitim ve Dayanışma Derneği)
HERITAGE Association (MİRASIMIZ DERNEĞİ)
Movement of Insan and Madaniyah (İnsan ve Medeniyet Hareketi)
"Most glorified is the One who summoned His servant (Muhammad) during the night, from the Sacred Masjid (of Mecca) to the farthest place of prostration, whose surroundings we have blessed, in order to show him some of our signs. He is the Hearer, the Seer." (al-Isra, 1st verse)
Masjid al-Aqsa, one of the oldest shrines on the Earth, and its surroundings are blessed. These sacred places mentioned in the Quran and hadiths have been throughout history significant sites for the proclamation of the unity of God, and the accumulation of knowledge and experience in this geography have made immense contributions to world civilization.
Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa, which came under the Islamic rule during the caliphate of Umar (ra), lived through a historical phase in which peace and security ruled and followers of the three divine religions coexisted in safety until the turn of the last century except for less than a century when Crusader forces invaded the city. However, Jerusalem became a center of chaos and occupation with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War I.
In this chaotic post-war setting, the state of Israel was created illegally in 1947 with the support from Western states. Created after a bloody fight, the Israeli state extended its pressure on the Palestinians, the owners of the lands it occupied, to cover social life as well as religious sites and cultural artifacts. Israel seized Jerusalem, including Masjid al-Aqsa, in the 1967 Six-Day War, and stepped up its attacks on the temple. Masjid al-Aqsa became the target of many demolition attempts that spread over almost half a century. Masjid al-Aqsa is planned to be destroyed in time through the excavation works that commenced in early 1990s and that are portrayed as being archeological.
Masjid al-Aqsa, common heritage of the Islamic world in particular and of the entire humanity in general, is likely to be destructed by Israel in the near future if no action is taken. The Masjid al-Aqsa Symposium will bring up current threats facing Masjid al-Aqsa as well as Zionist violations against the temple, Jerusalem and its residents in the light of findings of experts of the region, opinion leaders and human rights observers. The symposium aims at halting excavations ongoing beneath the temple, removing the ban on remodeling Masjid al-Aqsa and other surrounding temples, and mobilizing the international community to protect Masjid al-Aqsa and its surroundings immediately.
The symposium aims to unite opinion leaders and peoples worldwide from the Far East to America, particularly from Palestine, around concerns about Masjid al-Aqsa, and to contribute to the settlement of a question that is on the agenda of people who advocate peace and justice. As a matter of fact, Masjid al-Aqsa is at the center of the Palestinian question. An end to violations against Masjid al-Aqsa and efforts to protect the temple will contribute to the settlement of the Palestinian question and building peace and justice in the region in particular and in the world in general.
09.30 MULTIMEDIA PRESENTATION
09.40 – 10.30 PROTOCOL SPEECHES
10.30 – 12.30 I. SESSION
MASJID AL-AQSA, FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
CHAIR: Sheikh Raed Salah, The leader of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Occupied Palestine
12.30 – 14.00 BREAK
14.00 – 16.00 II. SESSION
VIOLATIONS WITHIN AL-AQSA AND JERUSALEM/AL-QUDS
CHAIR: Ahmet Faruk Unsal (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Member of the Trustee Board)
16.00 – 16.30 BREAK
16.30 – 18.30 III. SESSION
THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ON THE PROTECTION OF AL-AQSA
CHAIR: Dr. Mohsen Saleh (General Manager of al-Zeytouna Research Center)
Abdel Nasser Igbaria; Muessesetu’l-Bayareq
Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga; Institute of Bangsamoro Studies
Prof. Ahmet Agirakca; Medeniyet Association
Ahmet Emin Dag; IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Special Representative for Middle East
Ahmet Faruk Unsal; Spokesman for Istanbul Peace Platform
Dr. Akram al-Adluni; Muessesetu’l-Quds
Essam Hallak; Counselor of Islamic Community to CBC, Canada
Fadell Wishadi; Al-Quds Welfare Foundation
Hasan Sanallah; Merkez Dirasat al-Muasarah
Ebrahim Gabriel; President of the al-Aqsa Foundation of South Africa
Ekrima Sa’id Sabri; Imam of al-Aqsa Mosque, Former President of the Supreme Islamic Authority in Jerusalem
Israel Adam Shamir; Writer-Researcher
Israel Shamir is an internationally acclaimed radical spiritual political thinker, writer, translator and journalist. He is a native of Novosibirsk, Siberia and studied at the School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. He moved to Israel in 1969. After served for Israeli army during 1973 war, he chose journalism and started writing. In 1975, he joined BBC and moved to London. In 1977-1979 he lived in Japan. After returning to Israel in 1980, Shamir wrote for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, and was the Knesset spokesman for the Israel Socialist Party (Mapam). His articles about current affairs are published on his site www.israelshamir.net and elsewhere. They are also collected in three books entitled Galilee Flowers, Cabbala of Power and recently published Masters of Discourse, that are available in more than ten languages. He has translated and annotated several books like medieval Hebrew classic Sefer Yohassin (The Book of Lineage), Odyssey and selected chapters of Joyce’s Ulysses. Palestine, its sad history and enchanting landscape remained his most important topic. In 2004, he was confirmed in the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and Holy Land and baptised Adam by Archbishop Theodosius Attalla Hanna. Shamir (60) lives in Jaffa and spends much time in Moscow and Stockholm. He is father of three sons.
Dr. Kamal al-Abed al-Sharafi; Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
Muhammed Demirci; Heritage Organization
Dr. Muhsin Salih; Al-Zeytun Research Center
Mustafa Ozcan; Writer-Researcher
Mustafa Ozcan was born in 1962, Bolu, Turkey. He has begun to learn Arabic and Islamic sciences in his early ages. He lived for a time in different European countries during his education. He studied religious sciences at Al-Azhar University, Cairo. When he came back to Turkey in 1982, he began to work as translator. His articles were published in various journals. He worked as foreign news editor in many newspapers and dealt with foreign politics. Currently his articles are published in Milli Gazete, Gerçek Hayat, the news portals, www.dunyabulteni.net and www.dunyahaber.com. Throughout his two-decade experience of journalism, he has published numerous articles and books in a wide range: foreign policy, international politics, history, culture and Islamic thought. He has several translations from different languages to Turkish and Arabic. He has attended various national and international conferences and TV programmes. Currently he continues making TV programmes. Ozcan knows English and Arabic. He is married with four children.
Dr. Raid Fethi Khalid Jabareen; Merkez Dirasat al-Muasarah
Raed Salah; President of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Palestine
Tufan Buzpinar; Turkish Technical Committee; Istanbul Fatih University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences History Department, Head of Department
Zaki Tawfik Igbaria; Al-Aqsa Foundation
Rached Ghannouchi;General President of the Nahda Movement
Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi was born in 1941 in al-Hamma village in Southern Tunisia. He finished his primary education in al-Hamma and his secondary education at the az-Zaytouna preparatory school. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Damascus, Syria. There he had his first encounter with Islamist trends and began to elaborate his Islamic thought. He has many works translated to many languages including English, French, Turkish, Spanish and Farsi, some of them are; The Palestinian Issue at the Crossroads, The Rights of Citizenship in the Islamic State and Public Liberties in the Islamic State. He was also one of the founders of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in 1971 and of the “Islamic-Nationalist Conference”, which combines between Arab National Movement and Islamic Movement. Sheikh Ghannouchi has been living in London since 1991 as a political refugee.
Khalil Muhammad Tafakji Arab Studies Society
Prof. Ahmet Agirakca
Ahmet Emin Dağ (Researcher-Writer)
Ahmet Varol (Researcher-Writer)
Mustafa Özcan (Researcher-Writer)
Şeyh Raid Salah (The leader of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Occupied Paletsine)
Ömer Faruk Korkmaz (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Member of the Administrative Board)
Turan Kışlakçı (Researcher-Writer)
Israel is trying to replace the historical and religious memory of Palestine with its own memory. In fact, there is only one purpose behind: construction and completion of the infrastructure of the Temple of Solomon.
Chief Islamic Judge of Palestine, Taysir Al Tamimi, explained that the real purpose of Israeli administration is Judaization of Al Quds, and the construction of the Temple of Solomon is a part of it. In this respect Israel follows a de-/re-construct policy, through which it is trying to replace the historical and religious memory of Palestine with its own memory. Since 1967, Israel has subjected Al Haram Al Sharef to a siege using Al Burak Wall. The latest step of this policy has been the last excavations on Maghreb Road. Actually there have been excavations underneath Al Haram Al Sharef done by Israel since 1967. Neither somebody knows the real aim of these excavations including Palestinians nor Israel provides related information to international organizations like UNESCO. For Taysir Al Tamimi the only goal behind excavations is enhancement and completion of the infrastructure of the Temple of Solomon; thus Israel has been fulfilling its purpose while Muslims have been preoccupied with small concerns. The construction on Maghreb Road shows that the project is to be accomplished soon because they have already reached the surface, notes Al Tamimi.
Israel’s historical theses and claim of moral heritage pertaining to Al Haram Al Sharef have no basis in fact. As is expressed in hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Mohamed) the first sanctuary constructed on the earth is Al Haram Al Sharef which is located in Makkah. The second is Al Haram Al Sharef in Al Quds. Al Haram Al Sharef probably includes both Qubbat Al Sakhra and Al Masjid Al Aqsa; beside these two the area also includes Al Burak Wall, which is called “Wailing Wall” by Jews. Based on historical accounts, the founder of the first sanctuary was Abraham (pbuh), the ancestor of the prophets. Later in time, this sanctuary had been renovated by Jacob (pbuh). Following him Suleiman (pbuh) had built a grand sanctuary here. The sanctuary demolished after the Babylonian Exile had been restored once again, but it had again been destroyed in time. Currently, Jews are trying to build their new temples on Al Haram Al Sharef. If they can fulfill their ends, Israeli occupation will wrap an everlasting character and so will new Israel. It is suspected that the excavations that came up last month were the last phase of the project.
Jews have made changes in the numerous mosques and masjids until today. They were either destroyed or used for different purposes. Unfortunately some sanctuaries were converted into fun places and bars. Also, Israel assigned half part of the building of Khalil Abraham Mosque in Hebron (Al Khalil) to Jewish community by dividing it into two. As long as the Islamic world is not sensitive to such maneuvers of Israel, there stands same sort of a danger for Al Masjid Al Aqsa. Since the masjid is the first qıbla and one of the three most important sanctuaries of Muslims, destruction or conversion of it into a temple would constitute a big offensive for and leave a great negative impact on the spiritual identity of the Islamic world.
Current destructive works of Israel in Palestine is not new to history of humanity. For example, like Zionists, Hindus holding the Hinduvata ideology also had similar practices. In December 1992 the sanctuary called as “Ayodha” or “Mughal Mosque” was demolished by the followers of aforesaid ideology. Although the issue had been trialed and Muslims were proved right, the building once had been destroyed and there had been no return.
In fact, the crusaders in history were not like the Zionists; they did not have any attack to Al Masjid Al Aqsa. They only suspended practicing of athan and salah. During that period the masjid was left inactive for a time period of 90 years, like Hagia Sophia Mosque. Right after the declaration of expulsion of them using power, the crusaders threathened Ayyubi to destroy the masjid. Upon this threat Salahuddin Ayyubi preferred to compromise and had the crusaders to leave the city in peace. Jews have come to have a pretension over Al Masjid Al Aqsa while Christians had not such a claim throughout the history. As can be seen, the masjid interests Muslims in terms of their creed.
As a matter of fact, in this religious struggle some Jews consider Muslims as the righteous side. Regarding this, there has been a considerable support from Orthodox Jews to the protests against Israel’s excavation works in the vicinity of Al Masjid Al Aqsa. While excavations going on for weeks, the Orthodox Jewish group, Neturei Karta (Guardians of the City) support the Palestinians protesting against these excavations. Due to the fact that the entrance into the excavation area is forbidden, the leader of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah and a group of Israeli Arabs of which the majority are women stage their protests in the east of Al Quds.
It can be considered bizarre at first sight that an orthodox Jewish group supports Palestinians; but when closely examined we see that the actions of this group are compatible with their religious belief indeed because they are distancing themselves from Jewish nationalism and Zionism. For them, establishment of the state of Israel was contradictory to Jewish faith. They hold the belief that this state has been damned since it was established before the savior king –who would be a descendant of David- appeared. Therefore it would be great service to destroy this state otherwise Jewish nation will be damned for that. The leaders of anti-Zionist groups denote that Jews in history were exposed to continuous exodus since they fell into sin, and in order for them to return to the Promised Land the leadership of the Savior is needed; partially for that reason these Jewish leaders says that Al Quds belongs to Palestinians. They additionally assert that Jews are still suffering from punishment of exodus (being in diaspora) and they will be saved from this punishment only with the advent of the Savior. According to the belief, Zionists’ establishing the state of Israel by using force has been an arrogant rebellious act against God’s will. The Jews belonging to that group gave support to Yasser Arafat and Palestinians for a long time. One of those people has been excommunicated by the Austrian community and his wife has petitioned for divorce on the grounds that he participated in the Tehran Conference on the Holocaust organized last month on the initiative of the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he became a party to the “denial” of the Holocaust.
In the International Conference on Holocaust held in Tehran, an American rabbi Arnold Cohen stated that Israel is the sole responsible for all blood shed and murders committed in the Middle East. He added that Israel’s murders can not be justified on the basis of the Holocaust. Noticing the impropriety in using together the concepts “Holocaust” and “Zionist”, Cohen said that the Zionists are trying to legitimize their unrighteous ideology by adopting the discourse of Holocaust. Cohen reminded that in fact Jews had high moral standards but they suffered from exiles just because they made mistakes in history; and he emphasized that today Zionists tries to perpetuate a state in Palestine by disregarding Palestinians’ right to exist and live there. Apart from those, Cohen noted that it can undoubtedly not be asserted that the Holocaust was not experienced, but the Zionist philosophy is wrong and the Zionists are trying to impose their own preferences on Palestinian people and to establish a state on a racial basis.
Since the year 1948 that it was established Israel has been seeking for the ways for reconstructing the area where the Temple of Solomon had been founded over. The real intention behind is to develop spaces under the foundation of the masjid by damaging the rocks that the foundation was laid upon; this will lead the masjid fall down automatically in time.
The State of Israel’s policy of Palestine in general and Al Quds in particular is based upon total expulsion of Muslims from the region. That is why Palestinians living in Al Quds are not allowed to repair their houses and Israel has been destroying the historical places that belong to Muslims since 1967.
The Jewish Perception of Palestine
When we examine the history of the Israelites (the nation of Israel), we come across with a myth of promised homeland and soil (Canaan1). According to the myth Canaan land was granted to the first warner and prophet Abraham who was to call to the Only God, i. e., to the idea of the unity of God. In fact, the history of Israelites can be seen and summarized as the continuous extradition of Israeli people from promised land and their repatriation struggle. The longest duration along which Israelites had been away from their homeland has been during diaspora; this period of time started with the beginning of extradition of Jews by Romans in 70 AD. From then on the only goal of Israelites living in diaspora had been to return to Al Quds, the Promised Land.
With the rise of nationalist sentiments in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century the pressure on Jewish people had increased and this situation had caused Jews to adapt a religio-cultural nationalism and to turn their faces towards Palestine. During that period a number of associations were established. These associations such as Hovevei Zion (“The Lovers of Zion”), which was established in 1881 in Russia, laid the foundations of Zionism. Zionism means the return to Zion in its simplest meaning and in fact it is but a new term to identify what was identified, once upon a time, with an ancient ideology, the myth of the Promised Land. In the Old Testament this land was dedicated by Judah into the prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his people and they were bestowed the right to keep it at their disposal until the Judgment Day. This belief is core to Judaism so that Jews end their prayers with the phrase “Savior will come to Zion one day”, referring to that belief. Twice a year, in the feasts of Passover and Yom Kippur they express their hopes excitedly: “Next year, in Al Quds!”.
Despite living in diaspora Jews have never lost their connection to Palestine and have always desired to be buried in the Mount Olive hoping to be amongst the firsts who will be resurrected in this holy land, together with the Savior. It is because according to their belief the sovereignty of God will begin with the Savior’s appearing on the earth. Following the appearance of the Savior “all nations on the earth” will be adherent to Jews and thereby all humanity will gather around the only truth. This belief caused to emerge a tradition of pilgrimage on the holy lands, in Judaism. The groups formed around this belief never faced an Islamic opposition particularly because they held the mere intention to perform their religious duties in Palestine rather than establishing a sort of sovereignty over it. For that very reason, the followers of the three religions -Islam, Christianity and Judaism- could succeed to coexist and perform their own religious practices in peace in Al Quds without offending each other. However, with the birth of the Zionist ideology accompanied by the secularization of Judaism this situation had changed and acquired a different dimension.
Israel’s Policy of Al Haram Al Sharef
For Muslims Al Quds is the third place following Makkah and Madinah which is regarded as sacred. The Temple of Solomon is the sacred temple for Jews and it has been regarded as a crucial factor by them in consolidating their belief of return to Palestine. Due to the fact that Al Masjid Al Aqsa was established on top of the Temple of Solomon, the area has come to draw special attention of Jews. In the aftermath of the migration that started in 1881 Jewish people began to settle in the region. The purpose of the Zionists migrating into the region has been to establish a state over the holy territories of Al Quds. That is why they have been in a continuous struggle to increase the Jewish population in the region.
We can count five big waves of migration into Palestine. The Jewish population had dramatically increased in the region as a result of those waves that occurred between the years 1881-1903, 1904-1919, 1919-1923, 1923-1929 and 1929-1940. Although they could not constitute the majority of the population in the region, they acquired the motivation and support of the West that was enough for realizing the myth of the Temple of Solomon. As a matter of fact, Palestinian people had noticed the hidden Zionist policies of Al Masjid Al Aqsa and the first grave conflicts between Muslims and Zionists had arisen during that time. After the consolidation of the US power in the region -and obtaining the British support as well- the Zionists gained a significant power and began to terrorize Palestinians.
Since the year 1948 that it was established Israel has been seeking for the ways for reconstructing the area where the Temple of Solomon had been founded over. Despite endless efforts of Israel the occupation of Al Quds could only be realized during the course of the Six-Day War in 1967. Today, the Palestinian people are exposed to uninterrupted oppressive acts and violence of Israel. Beside that total aggression, “The number of the mosques that was either damaged, demolished or converted to casinos and night clubs is about 1200” says Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Council of Islamic Movement. Nevertheless this situation still does not imply a final success for Israel in terms of realizing its goals.
Following the occupation in 1967, Al Quds was declared “the eternal capital of Israel” in 1980. The real intention behind all these efforts is to reconstruct the Temple of Solomon as soon as possible, which had been ruinous for centuries indeed. There are two Islamic structures in the area: Al Masjid Al Aqsa and Qubbat Al Sakhra (The Dome of Rock). For some Jews, these two must be demolished in order to build the Jewish temple but the biggest obstacle to this is Palestinians and the Muslims over the world. As long as they exist, they will never let Israel destroy these two masjids. This is the real explanation of bloody conflicts that has recently been experienced in Al Quds.
After the occupation of Al Quds, there have been various attempts of Zionists and Israeli citizens -both at individual and state level- to destroy the Islamic structures. The firing sabotage against Al Masjid Al Aqsa on 21 August 1969, for the first time, had caused an international public reaction and later in the same year the Organization of Islamic Conference had been established as a reaction to Israel’s attitude towards holy lands. These reactions of Muslim and other countries obliged Israel to change attitude and caused its actions acquire more of a political dimension; however, after that Israel started to carry out excavation works more intensively. Israel identifies these works as “archeological excavations done in order to reach the facts and knowledge of Jewish history”. Refraining from political pressures Israel tries to maintain and complete this project by means of some organizations. Related with this, in 1984 an organization was broken down that was to blast both Al Masjid Al Aqsa and Qubbat Al Sakhra. So long as these two sanctuaries exist, the existence of state of Israel over these territories will continue to be a matter of controversy. Although Israeli Court gave punishment for this act, which was apparently a crime according to law, the then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir could make such a statement for members of Machteret Yehudit, just one day later than court’s decision: “All those are wonderful people but they made a mistake”. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the leading figure of Gush Emunim movement, the most extreme and bloody organization of Israel, also made an explanation in the way that the action was theoretically correct, but the timing was wrong.
The excavation works of Israel in Al Haram Al Sharef, that were launched in February 2007 and that drew reactions of the Islamic world, indicated that destructive works targeted to clear off Al Masjid Al Aqsa have been still going on. It is quite apparent that Zionist occupants have recently begun to employ a different method in order to demolish Al Masjid Al Aqsa. They are carrying on excavation works underneath and around Al Masjid Al Aqsa by reason of taking out ancient Jewish historical artifacts. The real intention behind is to develop spaces under the foundation of the masjid by damaging the rocks that the foundation was laid upon; this will lead the masjid fall down automatically in time.
The State of Israel’s policy of Palestine in general and Al Quds in particular is based upon total expulsion of Muslims from the region. That is why Palestinians living in Al Quds are not allowed to repair their houses. Also, they are barred from finding jobs and thereby they are forced to leave the city. Authorities claim that they provide protection by applying some changes in this historical spot. Nevertheless today, by looking at the changes applied since 1967 it can easily be observed that, in fact, they have been trying to annihilate the Islamic cultural heritage.
A consciousness must be raised as regards that Al Haram Al Sharef not only belongs to Palestinians but also to all Muslims over the world. Otherwise there will never be a guarantee to save these locations from Israel’s future destructive plans and attempts.
Israel has been destroying the demographic and architectural structure of Al Quds. The Islamic world must make urgent attempts in preventing Israel from destroying the city and particularly demolishing Al Masjid Al Aqsa.
Al Quds, which is regarded as a holy city by Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well, bears features exclusive of all these divine religions. Al Quds was declared capital city during Dāwud’s (as) time and enjoyed its most splendid era during the reign of Suleiman (as), the son of Dāwud. The city was exposed to continuous occupations of ancient Persian and Egyptian civilizations throughout the history both because of its historical importance and mystical characteristics. The most destructive of these occupations was the attack charged by Buhtunnasır, the Babylonian king, in 586 BC. This disastrous massacre has been one of the bloodiest historical events, that has frequently been narrated in history books. In addition to this, Isa (as) was born in this distinguished city and was exposed to defamation and tortures of Roman administration here. Following Romans, Al Quds was captured by Christian Byzantine Empire; then partially and for a certain period it was captured by Persian Empire. After that period the city was conquered by Muslims during the caliph Umar’s (ra) era.
As is well known, the Christian world organized eight crusades with the intention of capturing Al Quds. The Crusaders entering the holy city in 1099 executed a bloody massacre there. That was a pretty more brutal invasion than the past massacre and brutality committed by Buhtunnasır. Taking lessons from history, Muslim communities living dispersed throughout the region joined together under the command of Salahuddin Ayyubi and captured Al Quds once again in 1187; by that means a righteous administrative structure could be reinstituted in the city that was once experienced during the caliph Umar’s (ra) reign. The district called Al Haram Al Sharef was reconstructed and minarets were built under the Ayyubi and Mameluk administrations.
Similarly, under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire between the years 1517-1917 Al Quds enjoyed an administration of justice and people lived in an atmosphere of peace. During the Ottoman rule, holy places that belong to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike were restored. The marvelous fortress surrounding the city and the gates were built during that era by architects of the well-known school of Architect Sinan. The construction of city walls dates back to the era of Suleiman the Magnificent and the Architect Sinan rather than the era of the Prophet Suleiman, on the contrary of that is claimed by some historians.
All of a sudden, the question of Al Quds again was put on the world agenda as the foremost issue during the reign of Abdulhamed II. At that time, Theodor Herzl, the author of the book Jewish State and ideological founder of Zionism was intriguing in many ways against the Ottomans in order to recapture Al Quds with the support of the West. In the Congress of Basel that was assembled in 1897 Zionists absolutely decided to dethrone Abdulhamid II who did not let the Jews migrate to Palestine. Later in time with the declaration of Balfour, which had been prepared by France and Britain, Palestine was captured by the British on 11 December 1917. From then until 1948 when they left the region, the British had Jews all over the world migrated to the region step by step in line with the plans of the Zionists in order to erase the Ottoman legacy there. That caused a sudden and dramatic change in the demographic structure of Palestine. In such an upheaval and instable situation, one of the strongest resistances came from a distinguished Ottoman personality, Hadji Emin el-Huseyni, the mufti of Al Quds, who previously joined the war in Gallipoli. Emin el-Huseyni became the fiercest advocate of Al-Quds cause for 27 years right until when the British ceded the region. On 14 March 1948 immediately after the British left, Jewish people that had migrated to the region declared the establishment of Israeli State.
Israel which was established in 1948 over Muslim territories still pursues certain policies so as to legitimize its existence on this soil. Israel drew public reaction because of continuous cruel and brutal practices, tortures it had been inflicting/inflicts on the Palestinian people and also due to exiles of Muslims and recent occupations. Despite these reactions Israel continues to behave as if, as a state, it is not responsible for those dreadful acts and it does not hesitate to maintain its current policies in order to reach its unrighteous goal. In this respect, Israeli state has launched archeological excavation projects. Within the framework of these projects, Israel’s real intention behind has been the removal of the Islamic legacy from Palestinian territories. Regarding the significance of Al Quds for Muslims and the Islamic world such a policy clearly proves to be the most mischievous and dangerous method.
Al Quds has a great importance and sanctity in the eyes of Muslims primarily because Masjid Al Aqsa, the first qıbla of Muslims, is located within this city. Masjid Al Aqsa is one of the two masjids, whose names are distinctly recited in the Holy Qur’an; the other one is Masjid Al Haram in which Ka’bah is located. In the first years of Islam the prophet Mohammed (saw) and first Muslims turned their faces towards the direction of Masjid Al Aqsa in Al Quds for a period of 17 months while they were performing their prayers. Beside that, the Prophet (saw) started his night journey (isra) at Masjid Al Haram and ended in Masjid Al Aqsa and then started journey of miraj. As regards the importance of the event and the city, Ali (ra) said: “The lord of the places is Al Quds and the lord of the rocks is the rock in Al Quds.”
In Islamic faith, Masjid Al Aqsa is a proud, sacred and miraculous place. The Prophet (saw) said that praying in Masjid Al Aqsa is religiously five hundred times more valuable than praying in any masjids except those in Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi (The Prophet’s mosque). As expressed in Islamic law, it is recommended for pilgrims to start performing rituals of pilgrimage (hajj) first in Al Quds; in this respect the Prophet said: “Whoever starts wearing pilgrim garb in Masjid Al Aqsa either for Hajj or Umra is forgiven for his/her past sins”. When we examine the historical accounts of pilgrims who lived throughout the past centuries, we notice that most of the pilgrims had visited Al Quds just before going on the pilgrimage in Ka’bah.
Since the advent of Islam, Al Quds has been held in high esteem by Muslims. One of the indications of respect that Muslims showed toward Al Quds has been that Muslims have written many significant works along the centuries which supplied information at large scale and analyses about the city, its surroundings and history. Following the conquest of the city by the caliph Umar (ra) a number of Islamic scholars were grown up in Al Quds. Among the symbols and structures that are regarded as sacred by Muslims in Al Quds are Qubbat Al Miraj, the altar (mihrab) of the Prophet (saw), Al Burak Wall (so called “Wailing” or “Western” Wall), Mosque of Umar [also known as Qubbat Al Sakhra (The Dome of Rock)] which was built in 635 AD (Hijri 14). Apart from those there are tombs of many companions (sahabis) of the Prophet (saw).
Claiming that Al Haram Al Sharef in Al Quds is the center of Solomon’s Temple Jews are making tricky attempts in order to dismantle and destroy the area. The most indicative sign underlying Israel’s sneaky aim is the tunnels excavated underneath Al Masjid Al Aqsa which is located in Al Haram Al Sharef. Excavation of tunnels seriously damages Al Aqsa. In addition to that, Israel has recently decided to demolish the historic road to Al Haram Al Sharef on the Maghreb Gate and to dismantle the two masjids on this road, under the pretext of expanding the zone of “Wailing Wall”.
Some of the Western authors assert that Al Masjid Al Aqsa is not, in fact, the masjid in Al Quds on the basis of that the word “aqsa” means “distant”. In so doing they are trying to misinform and thereby deceive new generations. On the other hand, one point of which Muslims should be aware is that in their broadcasts media organs are trying to introduce to the public the Mosque of Umar as Al Masjid Al Aqsa.
Israel has been destroying the demographic and architectural structure of Al Quds. For that very reason the Islamic world must make urgent attempts in preventing Israel from demolishing Al Masjid Al Aqsa. Civil movements must be launched at large scale so as to immediately stop tunnel excavations in Al Masjid Al Aqsa and insolent policies that Israel is carrying out in order to clear off the Islamic legacy in Palestine, and particularly in Al Quds.
Zeytinburnu Kültür ve Sanat Merkezi
Semihaşakir Cad. Adliye Meydanı Zeytinburnu - İstanbulClick for map
MASJID AL AQSA CONFERENCE
The final report of the Conference of “The Injury Bleeds As Israel Digs: Masjid Al Aqsa”, organized by Istanbul Peace Platform on 25 April 2009 in Istanbul is as follows:
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Among the damages to Masjid Al Aqsa and its surroundings perpetrated by Israel, the following may be mentioned: The total demolition of Maghribis’ Quarter and the expansion of the Western Wall Plaza at the expense of it; turning Madrasah al-Tankiziyya and Masjid al-Buraq, which are parts of Masjid Al Aqsa, into a synagogue; the excavation of more than ten areas in the site called Holy Basin; the continuous activities of destruction around Masjid Al Aqsa, especially in Silwan, Bustan and Sheikh Jarrah quarters; the Israeli decision to demolish 88 houses in Silwan; the construction of 27 settlements, many quarters and synagogues in East Jerusalem; the construction of a synanogue called “Ohel Yitzchak” at the expense of historical “Hammâm al-Ayn” near Masjid Al Aqsa, etc.