by Ayman Ahmed (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 5, Ramadan, 1437)
Masjid al Aqsa, the first qibla of Muslims, remains under Zionist occupation. Zionist squatters are becoming more aggressive and belligerently encroaching on the noble Sanctuary. It is incumbent on Muslims to highlight this and take urgent steps to redress this. A good starting point is the Quds Day rallies organized worldwide on the last Friday of Ramadan.
At a time when the world’s attention is fixated on the illegal wars imposed on Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the issue of Palestine and more particularly the continued Zionist occupation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem have become even more pressing. Zionist squatters (aka Jewish settlers) have intensified their provocative usurpation of Jerusalem. One example of this was the loud and hate-filled rally the squatters held in Jerusalem on June 6 coinciding with the 49th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the city in 1967. It also happened to be the first day of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Muslim Palestinians were prevented from praying in al-Masjid al-Aqsa on the first day.
The Zionist occupation force has now made this into official policy. More than 83,000 Palestinian Muslims are barred from entering Jerusalem to pray in al-Masjid al-Aqsa. This scandalous affront to Muslim rights, religious freedom, and dignity continues while the Arabian regimes openly declare their subservience to the illegitimate Zionist entity and want to be friends (read: puppets).
Under these circumstances, it becomes even more important for committed Muslims to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people and the continued occupation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa that faces a serious threat from the Zionist squatters and their enablers. One way to achieve this is through the Quds Day rallies that have become a global phenomenon since Imam Khomeini first declared the last Jumu‘ah of Ramadan as the Day of Quds in 1979. Millions of people — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — participate in such rallies each year to draw attention to the continued occupation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the first qiblah of Muslims, as well as the Zionist occupation of Palestine and the unending oppression and suffering of the Palestinians.
This year will be no exception. Quds Day rallies are planned for most major cities in the Muslim world as well as in Africa, Europe, and North America. Cape Town and Pretoria in South Africa and Zaria and Kaduna in Nigeria witness some of the largest rallies in Africa. The Zionist-influenced and manipulated Nigerian army that flees when faced with Boko Haram terrorists, has tried on numerous occasions, at the behest of their Zionist masters, to disrupt and ultimately ban Quds Day rallies in Nigeria. Last December more than 1,000 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by the charismatic Shaykh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky were gunned down by the Nigerian army. Hundreds remain in prison, including Shaykh Zakzaky.
During the 2014 Quds Day rallies, the army shot and killed 29 protesters including three sons of Shaykh Zakzaky. When Goodluck Jonathan, the clownish former president of Nigeria, was defeated in presidential elections earlier this year, Nigerians heaved a collective sigh of relief at the departure of the Zionist stooge. Regrettably, the hopes aroused by Mohammad Buhari’s victory have not been realized.
Quds Day rallies have assumed even greater significance in view of constant Zionist attacks on al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the al-Haram al-Sharif precinct, which houses both the Aqsa Masjid and the Dome of the Rock. Hardly a day passes without an incursion into the holy precinct in al-Quds (Jerusalem) by illegal Zionist squatters who have no regard for life, limb, or property. Zionist occupation forces, many of them members of the same illegal squatter gangs, provide cover and support for such attacks.
Over the last two years, Zionist incursions have escalated. Their plan is clear: creeping annexation of al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) with a view to taking it over completely. Spokespersons for the Zionists have demanded the “right” to worship there. It takes chutzpah.
Al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the Distant Masjid), as mentioned in the noble Qur’an (17:01), is the area from where the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ascended to Heaven during his mi‘raj after leading all the previous prophets in salah, confirming his leadership of all of Allah’s Prophets (a). It is a walled area comprising one-sixth of Jerusalem’s Old City. The 35-acre compound includes masjids, 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 leadership of the Islamic Waqf is responsible for the management of al-Haram al-Sharif. The masjids (al-Masjid al-Aqsa and the 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 Maghribiyah Gate. This is connected by a controversial bridge down to the huge plaza — created through Israel’s illegal demolition of the Maghrabiyah quarter, including a historic masjid — in front of the Western Wall, which Jews believe is the only remaining remnant of the Jewish Temple.
Before the Zionist occupation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa in June 1967, it was under Jordanian control. When the war broke out, the Jordanian army fled without firing a single shot, abandoning Islam’s first qiblah and the third holiest site to the Zionists. This was precisely the purpose for which the British had created the “Hashemite Kingdom”: to act as a buffer for the illegal Zionist implantation in Palestine.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians — Muslims and Christians — were driven from their homes in a campaign of terror perpetrated by the Zionists in 1947–1948. Palestinian villages and towns were wiped out or taken over by the Zionist marauders who flooded into Palestine from Europe and Russia. In the first flush, half of Jerusalem was also occupied. The other half remained under Jordanian control. Jordan, an artificial entity carved out of Palestine by the British, was handed over to ‘Abdullah, one of the sons of Sharif Husayn in order to placate him. The British had reneged on their pledge to make Sharif Husayn the king of all Arabians in return for his betrayal of the Ottoman Turks who were then in control of the Muslim East, including Palestine.
The British had simultaneously promised to create a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine as per the Balfour Declaration of November 1917. The British had of course no intention of honouring their pledge to the Arabs. Their promise to the Jewish people, extracted by Lord Rothschild from Balfour, then British foreign secretary, served both sides well. At a stroke, the Zionists got the promise of a homeland in Palestine while the British and indeed the larger European community got rid of their “Jewish problem.” Anti-Semitism has been a defining feature of European life for centuries. The Europeans were not so much concerned about expiating for their sins against the Jews; their primary purpose was the expansion of colonialism into the Muslim East. Zionist Israel today serves as a colonialist bridgehead in the region.
When the affairs of Muslims are given by the enemies of Islam into the hands of traitors and the Muslims allow this situation to continue, then this is what will happen. The Haramayn — the sacred masjids in Makkah and Madinah — under the control of another treacherous family, Bani Saud, are in as much danger of being lost as al-Masjid al-Aqsa. Like the illegal occupiers of the Holy Land of Palestine, the uncouth Bedouins from Najd have created havoc in the Arabian Peninsula and in much of the Muslim world.
The Najdi Bedouins have assumed the title of Khadim al-Haramayn (Custodian of the Two Inviolable Places), but in reality, they are servants of the Zionists and imperialists. Throughout their treacherous existence, they have inflicted immense harm on innocent Muslims. They have spread sectarian hatred and division among Muslims. Their support of takfiri terrorists in Syria and Iraq is well-known, leading to the killing of thousands of innocent people.
Now they have launched a direct attack on the poor people of Yemen as well, where thousands of innocent people have been killed since March 26, 2015. The Najdi Bedouins have never fired a single shot against the Zionist occupiers or extended any support to the Palestinians but they have dropped thousands of lethal bombs on innocent Yemenis. Their contribution to the liberation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestine is zero.
The ongoing injustices against the Palestinian people have aroused the concern of many people worldwide. The issue of Palestine and al-Quds has also transcended the religious divide. Many anti-Zionist Jews and Christians participate in Quds Day rallies, especially in North America, Europe and South Africa, seeing these as expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It must be emphasized that Quds Day rallies are not against the Jewish people — their presence in such rallies is proof of this fact — but against the injustices being perpetrated by the Zionists. Further, Zionism is a political ideology that is based on racism. In fact, Zionists belong to all religions, even if nominally. There are Jewish Zionists, as there are Christian, Muslim, and Hindu Zionists.
It is also revealing that while Jewish religious law forbids entry for Jews onto al-Haram al-Sharif for fear that this might desecrate remnants of a “holy Jewish site,” some religious groups and rabbis have violated their own religious law by giving contrary opinions. In a September 21, 2013 article the New York Times wrote, “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 onto the “Temple Mount,” urging their followers to storm the holy precinct. These zealots need no encouragement. As thieves, they have stolen most of Palestine under spurious biblical claims. Having gotten away with one outrage, they are expanding their tentacles into other areas with al-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 al-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 right-wing group led by extremist Zionist squatters. On June 4, 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had 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 who live in the city are often barred from praying in al-Masjid al-Aqsa. It is not uncommon for the Zionists to bar Palestinians between the ages of 15–50 to enter al-Haram al-Sharif for prayer. 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 who 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 cannot be part of the solution.
For decades, these regimes took refuge behind the claim that they represented Islam and Muslims; no more. The Najdi tribal regime in the Arabian Peninsula and its fellow tribal monarchies and puppet regimes in the Muslim East are the local sentries of imperialism and Zionism. These include Jordan, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and others. Their primary aim is to maintain their illegitimate hold on power, and abort Islamic self-determination.
Nothing exposes them more than the fact that while they have poured billions of dollars to support the mercenaries fighting the Asad government in Syria, they have not given a fraction of that amount to the Palestinians to confront the Zionist aggressors. Further, while thousands of mercenaries from these countries have flooded into Syria, one is at pains to ask how many have been sent to Occupied Palestine to help the oppressed Palestinians. The battle lines are now clearly drawn. By their own actions, these munafiq rulers stand exposed. And like munafiqs everywhere, they will face humiliation in this world as well as in the Hereafter.
The responsibility for liberating al-Quds falls on the shoulders of Muslims worldwide as well as fair-minded, justice seeking non-Muslims. Quds Day rallies, therefore, assume great significance in mobilizing global public opinion for this ongoing tragedy borne of a gross travesty of justice. Keeping the issue of the continued Zionist occupation of al-Quds and Palestine alive is a religious duty of all Muslims worldwide.
The Quds Day rallies are a vital part of this effort. Muslims everywhere must participate in these rallies in large numbers to ensure the continued occupation of al-Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestine is not forgotten until their complete liberation from the clutches of the Zionists. Once liberated, all people — Muslims, Christians and Jews — can live in peace and harmony in the Holy Land, free from coercion, racism, and exploitation.