The Mister and I prayed Asr wih congregation at Al-Aqsa mosque. The first-ever in our generations to do so.
After Makkah (Mecca) and Madinah, this is the third holiest place for Muslims. The Arab-Israeli conflict has rendered this place as something of a dream, an item on a bucketlist that has a higher probablity of NOT happening. So I feel tremendously blessed to be able to pray here.
For all of you who have not and cannot be here, these images are for you. Please share it among friends and relatives; I find it very moving to see examples of a glorious Muslim history and the feel at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock is the same. I’ll explain more:
From the Western Wall Observation Point, the first sight that catches your eye is the stunning Dome of the Rock. It’s golden dome (which is aluminium + gold) glistens gracefully in the sun and you find yourself standing (for real) in all the numerous postcard images you have seen over the years.
The golden dome is that of Dome of the Rock (and NOT Al Aqsa Mosque, as is sometimes mistaken to be). On the right most is Al Aqsa Mosque, in the centre is the Western ‘Wailing’ Wall and on the left is Dome of the Rock.
This is the place to perform Wodhu (Ablution), a place where Muslims clean their hands, arms, face and feet before prayers.
Perhaps it might be different on a Friday when the crowds are huge but we had the chance to visit and pray during the week. Having been to Saudi Arabia twice, I was mentally prepared to be whisked off to another gate, another partitioned space where women will be huddled together whereas the men had most of the space to themselves. Surprisingly, men and women entered the mosque from the same gate and after prayers, I sat with my husband in the mosque in prayer (making Dua’). It was such a beautiful feeling.
As we enter Al-Aqsa Mosque, this majestic view greeted us.
This is the spectacular dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque:
A close-up of the dome:
Every inch of this mosque’s interior reminded me of the glory of Islam–the architecture, the calligraphy, the art, which is sadly divorced from religion these days. Beautiful calligraphy on Al-Aqsa’s walls:
There were many ceiling designs, this is one of them:
Al Aqsa Mosque was destroyed many times–sometimes by earthquakes, fire and sometimes by war. The structure has been re-built from its original one. But the Dome of the Rock has been intact and survived all these calamities!
Elaborate, beautiful and exquisite.
This is a seperate room on the side in Al-Aqsa Mosque which is also referred to as the Omar bin-Al Khattab Mosque. This is the room where he had prayed (among the other spots) in Jerusalem.
When we stepped outside, we looked straight ahead to this view. The Dome of the Rock inviting us inside. According to our tour guide, there is 80kg of gold in the dome of the Dome of the Rock, which was donated by Hafez Al Assad of Syria.
Inside the Dome of the Rock.
Again, the no-segregation policy. We were free to pray and worship where we wanted.
This will be a beautiful and grateful memory forever. I don’t want these to be a reminder to what is off-limits to many. I want this to be a reminder of the wondrous years we have left behind. In beauty, there is God and how many beautiful things/acts/spaces are we leaving behind for the future generations?