Zionist theft of Palestinian lands has now been extended to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site. Under siege since July 14, the Zionists have tightened their grip on al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) that houses, in addition to al-Aqsa Masjid, the Dome of the Rock Masjid, and a number of madrasahs and zawiyahs. Under international law and the July 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, the Noble Sanctuary is to be administered by Jordan. A waqf (an Islamic trust) exists for this purpose. Jewish law prohibits Jews from trespassing on the holy compound. That, however, is no bar to the thieving Zionists.
The siege of al-Masjid al-Aqsa began when three Palestinians allegedly killed two Israeli policemen on guard duty outside the gate. Not only were the three Palestinians immediately shot and killed, Zionist forces also shot and killed seven other Palestinians in different parts of the Zionist occupied West Bank. For the Zionist doting Western media, only the death of two Israeli policemen was newsworthy. This was endlessly reported on TV channels but the murder of seven Palestinians was ignored. Their lives do not matter, even if they are innocent civilians.
For Muslims, al-Masjid al-Aqsa not only has sentimental attachment because the noble Messenger (pbuh) went on the Isra’ (his nightly journey from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa – 17:01) before going on the Mi‘raj (the journey to heaven), but also because al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the first qiblah of the Muslims.
Since the early Muslims first liberated Jerusalem in 638ce, they have maintained the city as an abode of peace allowing other religious groups — Christians and Jews — unfettered access to their religious places. Under Muslims, Christians were fully protected, unlike the Zionist occupiers. When the Muslims lost Jerusalem and Palestine to the Crusaders in 1099ce, the European invaders desecrated masjids and churches in the Holy Land after perpetrating a bloodbath in the city. Among the dead were Muslims and Christians; the Crusaders’ horses ran knee deep in blood. They killed the Palestinian Christians because the latter had lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors. Once Muslims reclaimed Jerusalem in 1187, they again restored the city to its peaceful inheritance, allowing all faith communities to practice their religion without hindrance. The contrast with the Zionists’ crimes cannot be more glaring.
The Zionists are targeting al-Masjid al-Aqsa because they allege it is built on the site of their second temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70ce. They have dug tunnels underneath the holy sanctuary undermining its foundations. While no traces of the second temple have been found, even if they were, that would not lend legitimacy to a claim that a building might have existed there 2,000 years ago.
Further, the Zionists, most of whom are secularized Jews and do not even believe in God, claim that God promised them the Holy Land. Why would God promise the Holy Land to hustlers and thieves? What have they done to deserve God’s favor? The Qur’an tells us that they are going to spread corruption on earth twice. Each time Allah (swt) punished (or will punish) them (17:2–3), warning them that if they indulge in corruption and sedition again, they would again incur Allah’s wrath. This warning also extends to other faith communities, including Muslims. Allah (swt) has no favorites; only those who abide by His divine commands can expect mercy and grace.
The Zionist occupiers are able to get away with their barbaric practices because of two reasons: unflinching support of the US and the cowardly nature of Arabian rulers. The first can be neutralized, as Hizbullah has successfully done in Lebanon but it requires committed leadership. The Arabian rulers are anything but. Their only commitment is to their illegitimate hold on power. Everything else is dispensable, including the cause of the Palestinian people. But al-Masjid al-Aqsa is not only a Palestinian issue; it is the responsibility of every Muslim in the world, especially Muslim rulers since they occupy positions of power.
Far from fulfilling their responsibility toward al-Masjid al-Aqsa, they have maintained a deathly silence. They dare not utter a word against Zionist crimes lest they lose their shaky thrones. Equally despicable is the conduct of the so-called Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas. He is an imperialist-Zionist agent and survives on their handouts. He cannot do anything to protect either al-Masjid al-Aqsa or the rights of the Palestinians.
That leaves Hamas and Islamic Jihad among the Palestinian groups. Both are virtually bottled up in tiny Gaza. They have held protest rallies and warned Israel against crossing “red lines” but they have limited means, somewhat of their own making, to effectively challenge Zionist aggression.
The responsibility for al-Masjid al-Aqsa, therefore, falls of the shoulders of the global Islamic movement. In the manner of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi — who, before liberating Jerusalem in 1187, had to deal with the cowardly rulers surrounding Palestine — Muslims today have to repeat that history. Without liberating the countries around Palestine from the clutches of these clowns and criminals, there will be little hope for liberating Palestine from the clutches of the land-grabbing Zionists.
The global Islamic movement needs to get serious about the task facing them and prepare for it accordingly.