Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque?
Translations of this item:
In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews.
"You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been here for years with nothing done....The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors. Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no idea where that money goes...The poor and the needy never see any of it." — Members of the Muslim security staff of Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, was built on the Temple Mount -- which is the holiest site in Judaism, where the Temple that was destroyed nearly 2000 years ago stood.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been one of the items at the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Almost every known Arab political organization has vowed "to liberate Al-Aqsa from the Jews." In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Image source: Godot13/WikiMedia Commons)
In 1948, when the Jordanian government occupied Judea and Samaria, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was placed under the Jordanian Waqf Ministry, which oversees Islamic sites. In 1967, when Israel won the Six-Day-War and regained control over Jerusalem, it did not take control of Al-Aqsa. Instead, Israel transferred control of the mosque to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf [trust], an independent religious body to oversee the Islamic holy sites there.
The Hashemite regime in Jordan continued to pay the salaries of the managers and the staff members of Al-Aqsa, in accord with what Jordan's King Hussein described in 1988 as a religious duty he had inherited as the alleged descendent of the prophet Muhammad.
Israel's responsibility has been limited to providing security and, when necessary, conducting patrols and searches. In addition, the Israeli security forces conduct a strict policy of refusing to allow non-Muslims -- including Israeli Jews -- into Al-Aqsa except for tourism purposes and only at certain hours of the day.
Upon entering the silver-domed mosque, one can quickly notice how neglected the mosque is, and badly in need of maintenance, with dirty walls, dust-covered ceilings and worn-out chairs, including the one on which the Imam sits. Fire equipment, tossed randomly in a heap in a corner, looks as if it has not been touched in a long time.
When they were asked about the shocking condition of the mosque, its staff members, although audio-recorded, spoke on the condition of anonymity:
"The officials themselves and the staff members are the reasons," one of the Mosque's Muslim security staff said. "This chaos and indifference rolls down from the senior officials here who enjoy huge salaries compared to the average staff member."
He pointed at scaffolding stretching to the Mosque's dome, "You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been there for years with nothing done... The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors. "
He points to two large donations boxes at the center of the mosque. "Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no clue where that money goes...The poor and the needy never get any of it."
At the center of Al-Aqsa, two glass cupboards exhibit tear gas shells used by the Israeli police during riots of the first Palestinian Intifada, which began in 1987. "We've had these since the first Intifada," an Arab security guard said. "The managers here use these to make visitors sympathize and give donations, they are beggars' tools, that is what they are."
At the mosque's washrooms where worshipers get cleansed according to Islamic precepts, graffiti on the wall states: "Sheikh Azzam Al-Khateeb has destroyed Al-Aqsa." Al-Khateeb is the mosque's general manager, who handles all financial and administrative affairs.
The custodians of the washrooms did not allow photos taken of the graffiti. Nonetheless, an elderly man beckoned and said: "They are slackers, we just have slackers in this place ... This mess you see here is our responsibility; the wrongdoers are from us...among us... We cannot properly pray here, they [the staff] are bad people."
When asked to name names, he refused, but said, "The wrongdoers are from our own folks, son. We are the ones who have destroyed Al-Aqsa... I have worked with the Jordanians, with the Jews, and the Palestinians, I have seen them all, and I know what is really happening."
Another of Al-Aqsa's custodians said: "There are no more Muslims left in the world who care for Al-Aqsa.... The money comes from Jordan not to the poor people, but just to be handed to those running it. They are all thieves. Al-Aqsa is like a plate of food that all dogs are attacking for a bite.... All of those inside the Waqf are thieves.... They all blame each other while actually they are working together. You should see the trash that mounts up here during Ramadan [when people come to visit]; the officials are not committed to their responsibility at all. All the donations and aid money paid for Al-Aqsa by Arab states do not filter here; we do not see any of it here. Jordan provides the money for salaries here, but it provides zero accountability for the staff handling the money."
Another staff member joins the discussion: "Jordan and all Arab countries that give money to Al-Aqsa must be collecting much more donations than what they actually give out, otherwise, trust me, they wouldn't be giving anything at all. Look at the washrooms, the government of Turkey provided $2 million dollars to fix and expand those, and then Al-Aqsa's administration collected $2 million more in donations [for the project]...still, nothing was ever fixed or built."
When a group of staff members having lunch was asked why Al-Aqsa was in such a poor state, one of them answered: "You should ask Azzam Al-Khatib [Al-Aqsa's manager]; ask him why Al-Aqsa is dirty and full of flies. All Arab countries donate money for Al-Aqsa; ask Azzam Al-Khatib where does that money go?!" Another man said: "We do not even have proper loudspeakers for the worshipers to hear the Imam. Would those Jews do that to us if Al-Aqsa were under their management?"
A staff member at the nearby Dome of the Rock, where the Quran states that Prophet Muhammad ascended to the sky and met God, said: "The staff here is careless, they play a role in all of this bad state of affairs." He added, "This is all the fault of the Jews; they are to blame for all of this."
When asked how the Jews were responsible for the dirty walls, the worn out furniture, and the neglected facilities, he did not answer.
At the Al-Aqsa Mosque manager's office, located within the mosque, there were no executive staff members with whom to meet. I was told no one was there.
Repeated calls to Al-Aqsa's designated office at the Palestinian Authority Waqf Ministry, to request a comment, were never answered, not a single time.
As a practicing Muslim, I was sad to hear that those managing Al-Aqsa were more concerned with donations and their personal welfare rather than with the mosque itself.
Which prompts the question: Is Al-Aqsa is an Islamically sacred site, or is it a tool to collect donations by trying to elicit global Islamic sympathy -- just a goose that lays golden eggs for its managers?
It seems that it is we Arabs and Muslims who are harming Al-Aqsa, not Israel or the Jews.
Reader comments on this item
|Al Aqsa Mosque [66 words]||Grace (Verity Grace Turner)||Sep 21, 2014 08:13|
|A breath of fresh air [32 words]||Wilhemina Bothwell||Dec 29, 2013 12:10|
|Here's the truth [79 words]||Objective Observer||Dec 11, 2013 19:04|
|Thank you for the article. [3 words]||Marina||Dec 9, 2013 20:58|
|The Third Holiest site? [5 words]||Oldschooltwentysix||Dec 9, 2013 18:49|
|Truth being told! [68 words]||Sasha Cohen||Dec 9, 2013 13:20|
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a county, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed.
"A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey." — Hasam Kilic, President, Turkey's Constitutional Court.
The prosecutor demanded a heavier penalty for the victim than for her torturers.
The European Commission identified government interference in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media as the major sources of concern regarding Turkey's candidacy for full membership.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one needs to look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.
The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas's speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas's crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."