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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Today, Muslims are insisting that they cannot visit the Al Aqsa mosque if Israel exercises any signs of sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

However, Israel has been the sovereign over the area since 1967. And the question of visiting the site has been asked many times before by Muslims of neighboring Arab states, with differing answers.

In Jordan, there is an organization called the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC), which is associated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought.

The latter institute is nominally independent but in reality it is a mouthpiece for the king of Jordan through his top adviser Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, King Abdullah's first cousin and its chairman.
Since 2000 CE, H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad—Chief Adviser to H.M. King Abdullah for Religious and Cultural Affairs and Personal Envoy of H.M.—has been the Institute’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Institute comprises a Royal Academy with roughly 100 senior fellows who include many of the world’s leading Islamic scholars from over 40 countries. 
Jordan is insisting today that Muslims must not worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque if Israel maintains security control. Yet a few years ago there was a similar controversy and Jordan's RISSC published a paper describing why it is so important for Arabs to visit the mosque: The paper is titled simply "Why Should Muslims Visit Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa?"

Some of the reasons given:

 Opinions of Contemporary Muslim Scholars and Officials Regarding Visiting Jerusalem While it is Under Occupation

1. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: 

On 28th February, 2012, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called upon all Muslims to flock to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and support it and revitalize it by filling it with worshipers and pilgrims.
[A number of other Palestinian officials are quoted on the importance of going to Al Aqsa even while Israel holds onto it]

6. Statement issued by 16 of the Balkans’ scholars on visiting the Holy City of Jerusalem:

The undersigned scholars and muftis see no reason why such visits should not take place. Indeed they see that such visits cause benefit to the Muslim Ummah in terms of rallying around Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and supporting the Palestinian cause and keeping it alive in the hearts and minds of the youth of the Ummah; particularly in the face of accelerated Zionist efforts to obliterate the Islamic identity of Jerusalem and Judaize the Holy City. The undersigned also approve and celebrate the establishment of the Integral Chair for the Study of Imam Al-Ghazali’s Work which was established in Jerusalem at Al-Masjid AlAqsa under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein. This waqf will lend Islamic scholarly and spiritual support to the steadfast protectors of Jerusalem. —Issued in Sarajevo on the 2nd of April, 2012.

7. Al-Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s statement regarding his visit to AlMasjid Al-Aqsa:

In accordance with the Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith: “Do not set out for pilgrimage except to three mosques; Al-Masjid Al-Haram [in Mecca], Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem] and my Mosque [in Madinah]”, and due to longing for the first Qiblah (direction of prayer) and the place where the Prophet (pbuh) experienced his miraculous Isra’, and in response to the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Muhammad Hussein’s invitation to all Muslims to visit Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and rally around it and protect its cause and support the steadfast Jerusalemites who stand in the face of Zionist violations and plans to Judaize Jerusalem and obliterate its Islamic and Arab identity, I have consulted with distinguished scholars of the Ummah and asked the Almighty for guidance whether or not to set out for pilgrimage to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. My breast was expanded at the prospect and the pilgrimage was facilitated on Wednesday, the 4th of April, 2012. I ask the Almighty for a speedy liberation of Al-Masjid AlAqsa, our beleaguered holy sites and the land of beloved Palestine; and I ask the Almighty to awaken our Ummah from its slumber and to ease the burdens of all Muslims
8. Mufti of Syria Sheikh Muhammad Sa’eed Ramadan Al-Buti (in a Friday sermon on 20th April, 2012):

Muslims visited Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa while it was under the rule of the Crusaders and they never considered their pilgrimage to be recognition of the Crusaders or their assumed rights. Indeed those Muslims saw their visits to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa as a challenge to the Crusaders’ presence and a continuation and a renewal of their covenant with the Almighty to repel that aggression ... It is by God’s Grace that I searched and found no Imam in history and no Companion of the Prophet (pbuh) who severed ties or stopped visiting Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa while Jerusalem was under the Romans.

9. Egyptian Minister of Awqaf Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper, 8th August, 2010):

Jerusalem is primarily an Islamic issue and concerns 1.5 billion Muslims the world over. We have sublimated it and dealt with it incorrectly as a Palestinian issue. The invitation to visit Jerusalem stems from concern to emphasize the rights of Muslims in Jerusalem and the necessity of opposing the Judaization of Jerusalem. It is not, as some have suggested, free normalization.

10. The late Sheikh of the Azhar His Eminence Sheikh Muhammad Sa’eed Al-Tantawi (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper, 17th January, 2001):

Our creed demands that we maintain contact and communion with our brethren the Arabs of Palestine and Jerusalem and to nourish ourselves spiritually through connection to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and support of the steadfast Jerusalemites. We must also maintain our rights in these holy sites and not leave the matter only to the steadfast Palestinians.
All of these arguments show that not only can Muslims visit the site when it is under non-Muslim rule, but they should visit it in spite of Israeli actions.

Today, the Palestinian and Jordanians are arguing the exact opposite of what their scholars said in 2012. No one is publicly disagreeing even though Jordan's own Islamic think tank argues the exact opposite in its own paper.

The politics come first, the religion comes later.

(h/t Irene)

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