The Status Quo, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Disquieting of Israel

For decades the people of Israel have been suffering from internal and external waves of Terrorism. The state of Israel had been at war since her birth in 1948. After WW2, the Jewish People flocked to their Promised Land, which was their enduring hope for their survival and their continued fight in their hope for peace. However, the Muslims’ attitude towards the State of Israel always remained harsh; they never accepted it as the birthplace of the Jewish people or the subsequent return of the Jewish survivors from the flames of the Holocaust to their historical homeland.

In 1948, Israel and the Jewish people once again achieved independence but her Arab neighbouring countries refused to accept Israel as a Jewish State and committed to wage war against her as a means to rid them of her. This desire to destroy Israel continues to this day but has repeatedly failed. Over time, a couple of Israel’s neighbours have accepted, they cannot defeat the most determined and powerful nation in the Middle East and have laid down their weapons to accept her olive branch of peace. However, others continue their fight, swapping conventional warfare with relentless acts of terrorism as a means to reach their desired goal of eradicating the Jewish State and the Jews themselves entirely. To do this they created a proxy nation made up of the internal, previously migrated, the Arab population within the Israeli borders, to revenge the external neighbour Arab nations that were perpetually defeated by Israel in the wars waged against her. This proxy nation is called the Palestinians and their call to arms is so-called “Palestinian Resistance”. However, in its proclaimed legitimism, this contrived nation chooses to bypass the constraints of legal warfare to instead engage in pure terrorism, where most of its targets and victims are innocent civilian, including women and children.

One of the neighbouring Arab countries, who always wanted to de-stabilise Israel, is Jordan. Jordan was the country who sheltered the majority of the dispersed Arab population – who now identify as Palestinians – fleeing Israel in 1948 as war was waged on Israel by her Arab neighbours and today, 50% of Jordan’s population is made up of these Palestinian refugees. Later Jordan was one of the two neighbouring Arab countries that embraced Israel’s olive branch. However, Jordan also plays a double, more sinister, role. On the one hand, she agreed to a peace treaty with Israel while on the other, she boosted Palestinian terrorism. Jordon’s shady contribution to Palestinian terrorist activities is hidden under the umbrella of Religion.

The status quo of the Holy city of Jerusalem was actually established during the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century, when they restricted Jews from entering the Temple Mount.

The status quo has changed over the different periods of Muslim governance of the area. The most recent status quo is under the Jordanian government run by the Waqf. But what is this status quo?

Most people in the Muslim world, particularly in Pakistan, do not know the history and current situation regarding this matter. The current status quo is a type of agreement between Israel (Rabbinical Council) and the Waqf of Jerusalem (under Jordanian supervision) which restricts Non-Muslim (particularly Jews) when entering the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque) and the Dom of the Rock areas. While Muslims are free to enter and pray on the Temple Mount without any restrictions whatsoever, Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is completely forbidden. Jews & Christians may enter only to visit the area as tourists and only at limited times dictated by the Waqf, but they are forbidden from singing, praying, or making any kind of “religious displays”.

So how did the status quo come about? This is a short introduction of the Waqf of Jerusalem. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, West Jerusalem was among the areas captured and later annexed by Israel while East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was invaded, captured and later annexed by Jordan. It was only in the 1967’s Six-Day War that Israel recaptured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 war and subsequently annexed it. However, the then Prime Minister of Israel, Levi Eshkol gave control of access to the Temple Mount to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf for maintaining a peace in the country. The site, ever since has been a flashpoint between Israel and local Muslims.

Muslims have exclusive authority to manage the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock according to their laws, traditions, and practices. The Israeli police manage the Temple Mount; standing guard at the entrances and exits and the Israeli police work closely with the Islamic Waqf to provide safe entrance at the specific times during the day for non-Muslims to tour the Temple Mount.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is completely under Waqf control; Israel has no supervisory control over Dom of the Rock (Qubbat Al-Sakhrah) and the Temple Mount ((Al-Aqsa Mosque) area as a whole.

The Islamic world needs to understand that the Israeli authority upholds and defends Al-Aqsa Mosque & the status quo by actively restricting Jews, religious or otherwise, who enter it because it is the country (Israel) law which must be abide by the agreement of the status quo of this holy site.

Furthermore, one must consider that the status quo of the holy sites has nothing to do with Islam. It is a purely political demand of Jordan and agreement with Israel to keep calm in the region. Islam itself has never prohibited Jews from prayer on the Temple Mount; I have not found a single verse of the Quran which prohibits Jews from praying near or inside the Temple Mount, nor any saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which justifies the current restrictions to maintain the status quo of the holy sites.

A 13th-century claim to an extended region of holiness was made by Ibn Taymiyyah (Islamic Scholar) who asserted: “Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the name for the whole of the place of worship built by Solomon (known as Solomon’s Temple)”.

Ibn Taymiyyah had also opposed giving any undue religious honours to mosques (even that of Jerusalem), to approach or rival in any way the perceived Islamic sanctity of the two most holy mosques within Islam, Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca) and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina).

We Muslims have been ordered by the Prophet (PBUH) to visit three mosques; Masjid –al-Haram (House of Allah in Makkah), Masjid-e- Nabvi (Mosque of Prophet –PBUH in Madinah) and Masjid -e- al Quds (Al-Aqsa mosque), if we can afford to do so. It is not obligatory upon Muslims to visit Al-Quds mosque (Harm-e-Sharif). Al-Aqsa Mosque was the first house of God to Muslims but then it was changed by Allah to Makkah. Now we have no Islamic obligation to pray towards Jerusalem, therefore we cannot claim Al-Aqsa as part of Islamic ritual, however it is the  most sacred place for Muslsim after Two grand Mosques (in Makkah and Medina).  (For a few years in the early stages of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH) instructed his followers to face the Mount during prayer which changed to Makkah afterwards)

The issue of Al-Aqsa mosque is now more a political objective than a religious ritual and that Palestinian political leadership use this holy place for their own political objectives; the status quo is more useful for propaganda and incitement purposes rather than any religious requirement or respect.

A fundamental principle of Islam is that a life of a human being, be it Jew or Muslim, is more sacred than the Al-Aqsa mosque. Allah made no distinction between the life of a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Life may only be taken as a means of self-defence in a just war. By devising an imaginary threat to the status quo of Al-Aqsa mosque, Palestinians attempt to incite an imaginary “Just war” and provoke their manipulated call for Muslims to trigger a reflex of “self-defence” where there is no threat, no war and no need to defend.

From my understanding,

The status quo of this and other holy sites has no religious foundation whatsoever and therefore I completely rule out this agreement. I believe that Jews possess the same rights to worship on the Temple Mount as we Muslims have to worship in the house of Allah in Makkah (KSA).

I do not feel uncomfortable in saying that a revised status quo must be established to grant the Jews permission to pray to the same one true G-d, HaShem, as we do without fear of any persecution. Islam is a religion of peace and it seeks to obtain peace but unfortunately Muslim radicals, especially Arabs, manipulate the origin of Islam to pursue their own political agendas & goals.

In the Quran, Allah said:

And if they incline to peace, incline you also to it…… (08:61)

Israel and Israeli citizens want peace but their offer of peace has always been rejected by so called Palestinians and other political Arab Muslims. In essence, they aren’t simply turning away from the peace offered by Israel but they are actually rejecting the message of peace offered by Allah in the light of above mentioned Quranic verse.

Islam prohibits strikes against any regime who has granted the Islamic religious rights to their citizens and there are some 400 mosques in Israel under the protection of Israeli law and government including the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Muslims inside and outside Israel have absolutely no religious justification to lash out at the State of Israel by whatever means. Israel’s 1.7 million Muslim and Christian Arab citizens make up 20% of her overall population. They enjoy the same social & political rights and freedom as every other Israeli citizen and, for the majority, are as committed and faithful to the state of Israel as their Jewish citizens.

Islam never taught its followers to hate Jews. There are many Quranic verses which praised Jewish people as the children of Israel, and we must understand the reality that this nation is a peaceful nation in the world. Israel is the country which always welcomes people from around the world and is in the forefront of offering and delivering help & aid to any other country and or peoples of any religion and nationality. Israel is the holy land, the blessed land of the Prophets of the three Western religions and it must remain a peaceful land in the world.

Muslim attitude towards Israel is based on lies, bias and hate. This is simply hypocrisy, bigotry and abysmal ignorance.

We Muslims must change our position towards the State of Israel and the Jewish people because not only does it disrespect the real image of Israel and her people, but it also projects a negative and intolerant image of Muslims in the world. There is no difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism; both acts are against the Jewish nation their right to a Jewish State regardless of political affiliation. The name of the Jews is used as the symbol of hate in the Islamic world. The Jewish identity is enough to be detested. This Muslim behaviour must be condemned because it is not a message of Islam.

The Prophet of Islam married to two Jewish women on different timing (who embraced Islam afterwards by their own wish) to hold strong relations with his cousins. This is the tangible example of coexistence of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) towards Jews. We must abide by our cousins (Jews) with love and peace. They hold full right to pray in the Mount Temple as we have because they pray to the same and one true G-d as we do. The Jewish nation is the first monotheistic nation of the universe and we (Muslims) came after them.

I sincerely pray the day will arrive when we (Muslims) will welcome our cousins (Jews) to pray together in the holy Mount Temple in the near future. In Shaa Allah/ B’ezrat HaShem

About the Author
Mr. Noor Dahri is the Founder and Executive Director of Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism- ITCT, a UK based Counter Islamist Terrorism Think Tank. Noor was born and raised in Pakistan. Noor Dahri has also worked with the London Police department for the last seven years. He has studied Forensics and Criminal Psychology from Oxford – UK and Counter Terrorism from International Institute for Counter Terrorism ICT- Israel. He is an author of "Terra Nullius: The Rebirth of a Land Without Peace"