To go to Jerusalem, or not to go to Jerusalem: That is the Question

Posted on June 9, 2010

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I’m being hit by a lot of conflicting ideas. It requires patience, sincerity of intent, and a prayer for guidance on my part. I want to go to Jerusalem. I want to live and breathe its spiritual history. I want to live out the hadiths of the prophet Muhammad (saws):

Zaid Ibn Thabit (ra) reports that the Prophet (saw) said, “How blessed is Al-Sham!” The Companions (ra) asked, “Why is that?The Messenger (saw) replied, “I see the Angels of Allah spreading their wings over Al-Sham.” Ibn Abbas (ra) added, “And the Prophets lived therein. There is not a single inch in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) where a Prophet has not prayed or an Angel not stood.” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad)

Abu Hurayrah (ra) relates that the Prophet (saw) said, “You should not undertake a special journey to visit any place other than the following three Masjids with the expectations of getting greater reward: the Sacred Masjid of Makkah (Ka’bah), this Masjid of mine (the Prophet’s Masjid in Madinah), and Masjid Al-Aqsa (of Jerusalem).” In another narration the words are, “For three Masjids a special journey may be undertaken: The Sacred Masjid (Ka’bah), my Masjid and Masjid of Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa).” (Muslim, Bukhari, Abu Dawud)

Why then are a great deal of Muslims telling my husband and I not to go? Aren’t we supposed to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (saws)?

I wonder if there is some basis for the concern. The Palestinians and Israelis with whom we speak say that it is safe. Perhaps what is frightening people so much is what they see on the news post-flotilla episode? People believe what they see and people fear the unknown…is the mass media just controlling the masses? Are they creating a hysteria for a place that has issues like any other? Is this just biased propaganda? How come the State Department has a travel warning for every country except for our own?! There’s a lot more dangerous places in our own backyard than out there in the big, unknown world… These are the questions I ask myself through my internal conflict.

The whole Israeli/Palestinian situation seems blown out of proportion by many Muslims. I mean the Zionists do believe Israel is their right and make no apologies for it. They believe the end of days will be characterized by a rebuilding of the temple–no Al Aqsa, Dome of the Rock, or Church of the Holy Sepulchre in sight. Of course, however, you cannot invade a land and not expect an uprising of the indigenous. What if all the Muslims of the world went to live in Mecca and Medina? I mean don’t we have a right to that blessed land? Well the Saudis wouldn’t stand for it! We’d get booted out with our hajj or umra visas pronto!

Speaking of Saudi Arabia and visas, I believe it is very childish for some Muslim governments to deny entry of any person with either an Israeli visa or passport. I mean, what if a Palestinian wants to make hajj? What if an Israeli becomes Muslim? Isn’t Islam for all? Aren’t we not supposed to impose hardships? Isn’t Islam supposed to be ease? What are we doing to our religion, people? I can spend the extra money I’ll have to pay on a second passport to erase the blemish of Israel’s visa stamp on something more worthwhile and sustainable, like charity. What if we actually want to follow the sunnah and visit Al Aqsa mosque, the land of the prophets, the site of the first qibla, the place of the isra wal miraj, the only other mosque mentioned by name in the Quran besides the Ka’aba? Is it ok to follow the sunnah, oh people in power? We can’t be like the Zionists now denying people their rights, now can we? We don’t have that “chosen people” mentality in Islam.

Speaking of what we do have in common with all Jews though is that we are “people of the book.” And as people of the book, we are allowed to intermarry…the Quran says so…so how now then Egypt is an Egyptian man marrying an Israeli woman an act of a spy? How will he lose his citizenship? We must really consider whether we are going to follow the spirit of the law that rasulAllah (saws) left us with or abuse it with politics, nationalism, and egotism.

Bilad ul-shams was promised to be the place of safety by rasulAllah. If that doesn’t give me security, nothing does. No matter the struggle there, people are living there. For every heartbreaking story, there is equally a heartwarming one. For every death, there is a birth. For every taste of hell, there is a taste of heaven. This I know to be true. It’s the way the world works.

Jerusalem, my dear, someday inshAllah before I die, I will see you. I know that I will be as safe with you inshAllah as I am walking out the front of my inner-city American door with the danger of drug-dealer, liquored up thugs nearby.

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