by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 5, Ramadan, 1435)
Every year, al-Quds rallies are held worldwide on the last Friday of Ramadan. They are important because they remind the Muslims as well as non-Muslims that the first qibla of Muslims remains under alien occupation. Its liberation is the responsibility of every Muslim.
The annual Quds Day rallies have become a global phenomenon. Since the last Friday of Ramadan was first declared by Imam Khomeini in 1979 as the Day of Quds, millions of people—Muslims and non-Muslims—have participated in such rallies each year to draw attention to the continued occupation of Masjid al-Aqsa, the first qibla of Muslims, as well as the Zionist oppression of Palestinians.
Quds Day rallies have assumed even greater significance in view of incessant Zionist attacks on Masjid al-Aqsa and the Haram al-Sharif precinct that houses both al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Hardly a day passes by without an incursion by illegal Zionist squatters into the holy precinct in al-Quds (Jerusalem) without regard to life, limb or property. Zionist occupation forces, many of them members of the same illegal squatter gangs, provide cover and support for such attacks.
In recent weeks and months, Zionist incursions have escalated. Their plan is clear: creeping annexation of the Haram al-Sharif with a view to taking it over completely. Spokespersons for the zionists have demanded the ‘right’ to worship there. It takes chutzpah.
The Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), as mentioned in the noble Qur’an (17:01), is the precinct from where the Messenger of Allah (saws) ascended to Heavan during his mi‘raj. It is a walled area comprising one-sixth of Jerusalem’s Old City. The 35-acre compound includes mosques, museums, gardens and Islamic schools. Since the Zionist occupation of the entire city including East Jerusalem in 1967, Israelis and Palestinians have managed this very sensitive religious area in an uneasy relationship. As a religious endowment, the Haram al-Sharif is managed by the leadership of the Islamic Waqf. The mosques (Masjid al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock), the museums, gardens and Islamic schools are all administered by the waqf that regulates the flow of visitors onto the holy precinct. Guards from Jordan’s Ministry of the Islamic Waqf are stationed at all but one of the compound’s entrances alongside Israeli police: the Maghrabiya Gate. This is connected by a controversial bridge down to the huge plaza — created through Israel’s illegal demolition of the Maghrabiya quarter, including a historic mosque — in front of the Western Wall, which Jews believe is the only remaining remnant of the Jewish Temple.
Before the Zionist occupation of Masjid al-Aqsa in June 1967, it was under the control of Jordan. When the war broke out, the Jordanian army fled abandoning Islam’s third holiest site to the Zionists without firing a single shot. This was precisely the purpose for which the Hashemite kingdom was created by the British: to act as a buffer for the illegitimate Zionist intrusion into Palestine. When the affairs of Muslims are left in the hands of traitors, this is what happens. The Haramain—Makkah and Madinah—under the control of another treacherous family, the House of Saud, is in as much danger of being lost as Masjid al-Aqsa.
It is also revealing that while Jewish religious law forbids entry for Jews onto the Haram al-Sharif for fear that this might desecrate remnants of a ‘holy Jewish site’, some religious groups and rabbis have violated this law by giving contrary opinion. In a September 21, 2013 article the New York Times reported “Israel’s chief rabbinate still maintains the Mount is off limits to Jews — a sign saying so is posted at the gate.” But Zionist zealots have issued provocative statements saying they are “denied” entry on to “Temple Mount” urging their followers to storm the holy precinct. The zealots need no encouragement. As thieves, they have stolen most of Palestine under spurious biblical claims. Having got away with one outrage, they are expanding their tentacles into other areas with the Haram al-Sharif as their specific target. Numerous arson attempts and provocations have occurred over the years.
As part of the annexation plan, two synagogues have been built in Jerusalem recently; another one is planned right next to the Haram al-Sharif together with furious judaization of the rest of the city. Additionally, the Zionist regime has announced plans for construction of two new squatter camps euphemistically called ‘Jewish settlements’ under the direct supervision of a rightwing group led by extremist Zionist squatters. On June 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reconfirmed this by announcing construction of thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem.
While Palestinians from the rest of Palestine are forbidden to enter Jerusalem, Zionist squatters are provided armed protection. Even those Palestinians that live in the city are often barred from praying in Masjid al-Aqsa or the Dome of the Rock Mosque. It is not uncommon for the Zionists to bar Palestinians between the ages of 15 to 50 to enter the Haram al-Sharif to pray. The Palestinians face numerous other challenges coming into Jerusalem: the ubiquitous checkpoints, the apartheid wall (Separation Wall) and of course the gauntlet of gun-toting Zionist soldiers that are present everywhere.
While dealing with this serious challenge is primarily the responsibility of Muslim governments it is futile to expect rulers that are themselves agents of imperialism and Zionism to help or support Muslim causes. These regimes are part of the problem; they can not be part of the solution.
The responsibility for liberating al-Quds falls on the shoulders of Muslims worldwide as well as fair-minded justice seeking non-Muslims of any faith or no faith. Quds Day rallies, therefore, assume great importance to mobilize public opinion globally. Keeping the issue of the continued Zionist occupation of al-Quds and Palestine alive is a religious duty for Muslims. The Quds Day rallies are a vital part of this effort.