Within the precincts of Jerusalem are the tombs for the prophets Dawud/David and Shamwil/Samuel (peace be upon them both), and today we went to go see them.
David (as) is located on Mt. Zion in Jewish custody. His tomb is partly a synagogue, museum, and overlook of the city. We were the only Muslims going to visit him when we went, and by the look of the tourists, school groups, and Jewish devoutful there, not many Muslims came to this place. But why not? Dawud (as) is just as much our prophet as he is the Jews’ and Christians’. So if you make your way to Jerusalem, please pay your respects to the prophets! The only thing required at Dawud’s (as) resting place is that heads are covered (besides the general common law rule of being respectful on the grounds).
Dawud’s actual resting spot is shared by two halves…one for women and one for men, side by side. The side for men was empty when my husband came upon it. My side had five female devotees, not including myself, but that was no problem. They offered their prayers and likewise, I offered mine.
After greeting this prophet, we ascended up the stairs to Mt.Zion to take a look at the surrounding neighborhood. It was beautifully scenic and you know I was snapping away on the camera.
We then left Mt.Zion to visit the prophet Samuel (as) in the neighborhood of Ramot. By following the signs to Ramot, we eventually saw signs for Nabi Samuel’s tomb. It is in Muslim custody in a place that is part mosque and part syngogue. But Shamwil (as) actually rests inside the masjid. The place was swarming with Jewish school groups just like at Nabi Dawud’s (as), but again, it seemed like no Muslims ever visited here, even though it’s a masjid too.
Just looking around, we could not access the masjid. It was locked. So we went to the synagogue and found a rabbi to help us. He was pretty sweet. He did not speak much English but he did speak Arabic, and upon telling him that we wanted to pray, he took us around the premises to find a Muslim construction worker who woul know how to get into the masjid. The rabbi himself didn’t know how to get into the masjid. So we walked back and forth with the rabbi as he tried to find out…and it happens that the key was with the Palestinian merchant selling beverages outside the entrance all along. Mash’allah.
Seeing that it was dhuhr, the custodian became muezzin and made the call to prayer. Before that, he led us inside the masjid saying the Jewish schoolboys outside weren’t allowed in…it seemed that there was some trouble before. As we awaited the muezzin to lead us in prayer, there were Jewish boys knocking and making noise outside the door.
Soon the muezzin came back and to our surprise, he wanted my husband to lead the prayer. Mash’allah!! What an honor! He also wanted me to pray behind the tomb (as I wasn’t in the women’s musallah) to separate the sexes. It was only 4 of us in there, not including baby girl, but okay. I guess they don’t get female visitors around these parts much either. Praying at Nabi Shamwil’s was such an honor, mash’allah. And hearing my husband’s voice in prayer brought a smile to my face (we have been taking turns with prayer at our Jerusalem apartment because if is SO not babyproofed, so the only time I actually get to pray with him is in a masjid with someone else leading the prayer). The feeling at Nabi Shamwil’s isn’t as strong as the feeling at Nabi Musa’s. The same goes for Nabi Dawud’s. However, both Nabi Musa’s and Nabi Shamwil’s resting enjoyed a stange company of animals. At Nabi Musa’s there were ants and cats, and at Nabi Shamwil’s, there were birds in the courtyard. I can’t recall seeing an exceptional presence of animals at Nabi Dawud’s (as), but maybe there were some that I didn’t notice. After all, Dawud (as) is the prophet known for singing the praises of the Almighty with the birds and trees! Who else is more likely to have their presence at his grave? Allahu alim, but it was great to meet three prophets in two days…if you asked me five years ago or even five months ago if I thought I’d be standing in the holy land traveling the footsteps of the prophets and righteous predecessors today, I’d think you were making fun of me. Alhamdulillah, today has been a blessed day as have all the days that have preceeded it.
After leaving Nabi Shamwil’s, we headed over to East Jerusalem to find Sunbula, a fair trade organization that supports Palestinian handicraft workers all over Palestine. Check out their website–there are beautiful items that you can purchase online, meanwhile helping families that need the income. Based on my visit, I don’t think they get a lot of patrons either :(. So I got some embroidered knick-knacks: a barette for my daughter, and earrings and a sandal keychain for myself. :) you know, I love sandals…they actually sell leather handmade sandals in the Old City, but my foot is too narrow and I don’t think I have enough time to find a leatherworker to make shoes from scratch for me :(. I wonder how much that would cost anyway?!
After a tip from Linda at Sunbula for where we could get some American food, we ate at a Palestinian Christian restaurant to have American (or rather Italian ) food….mmmm… Ravioli!!! They usually opened their doors to families at 5, catering to large Christian groups during the day, but we pleaded and they responded and it was worth both our wholes I think.
Maghrib prayer tonight was in the Old City, a beautiful new view of the city. Everything seemed to glow, especially the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa. I really could’ve slept in the masjid tonight…it was that peaceful. Upon leaving, we stopped at a pizza place for dinner and I tried to get a cheeseburger, which here means cheese melted on top of burger meat served with veggies and French fries on the side. You know I put that thing in some pita bread! I’m on the lookout now for a real hamburger and real pizza for that matter (they seem to serve personal pan pizzas here that look like cheese and meat melted on naan bread). Haven’t tried it yet though…you’ll have to ask my hubby about that as that was his meal tonight! And speaking of other food weirdities, today was the first time we had real ketchup. When you ask for ketchup at Arab restaurants here, it usually comes as a watery mix, as if there was one part ketchup to ten parts water. I wonder why….I’ve seen plenty of tomatoes here?!
Leaving the restaurant, we found that the Old City does sleep. Stores do close, and to my surprise, the city is cleaned. I took evidence for sure. And though at night, when the city is dark and quiet and all locked up, it seems pretty scary, it’s actually very serene. Sweet dreams tonight, Old City.
Mt.Zion and the company of Prophet David (as)
Nabi Samuel (as)
The Old City at night