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Travelling to Jerusalem

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Entering Israel

Please read and heed the advices

 

      1 Don’t travel alone!  I went alone and it is neither advisable nor recommended. May Allah (SWT) save me from arrogance and I am not

       trying to say that I am some sort of a Macho but I would NOT recommend for anyone to travel alone (at least for the first time). There are

       plenty of Hajj/Umrah groups who will take you at a very reasonable price.

 

2 Most Muslims would be going to Israel to visit The Dome of the Rock and Masjid Aqsa. It is perfectly safe because you don’t cross any check points or borders. If you are worried about safety just stay in Jerusalem and don’t venture into Palestinian Authority areas. I met groups from Britain with their wives, sisters, mothers, babies in and it is perfectly safe.

 

3 If you are stupid enough to enter Israel wearing a “Free Gaza” wristband or “Free Palestine Shirt” then you deserve to be deported!

 

4 Whether you enter Israel via a direct flight or via Amman (Jordan) you will be racially and ethnically profiled and subjected to severe questioning and interrogation. You WILL be held up; it’s just a question of for how long! I was held up for 3 ½ hours at Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) but a British (Muslim) visitor told me that he was held up for 9 hours at the Amman. Doesn’t matter where you cross from you will be interrogated!

 

5 Your phone, phone calls, messages, WhatsApp, Telegram or whatever you have will be thoroughly scrutinised and checked.

 

6 You will be asked to provide details of all your phone numbers and emails.

 

7 Your laptop and/or electronic devices will be thoroughly checked.

 

8 You will be asked to provide details and address of your local Mosque.

 

9 You will be asked to provide details of your Parents and Grandparents.

 

10 You may be asked as to how your parents met and got married.

 

11 You will be asked about your employment details.

 

12 You will be asked if you know any Arabs or Palestinians inside Israel.

 

13 You baggage will be machine and hand searched and any items which may be questionable will have to be explained.

 

14 Your guide books, notes (for your trip) will need to be explained.  If you have gotten them from a library you will be asked about the library.

 

15 I had 3 separate Interviews and same sort of questions were asked again and again and again.

 

16 Basically, the questions will be petty but relentless and they are observing your reactions and body language (twitching, itching, and nervousness). You have nothing toworry about and let them do their job.

 

17 Unlike Saudi Arabian & Jordanian authorities Israelis are not rude or discourteous; they are just thorough. Arab immigration authorities are rude, obnoxious and just try to bully you.

 

18 If you are a Muslim then an Israeli VISA on your passport will cause problems when visiting Saudi Arabia, Pakistan etc. so request for them to stamp a piece of paper and not your passport. This is a standard request and common.

 

19 If you are a practising Muslim with a long Beard or a face covering then you won’t have much of a problem because there are many Tourists who are practising.

 

20 If you are a non-practising Muslim you will still be subjected to profiling and interrogation.

 

21 If you are a Muslim you may be asked to recite passages from the Qur'aan by both Isareli & Palestinian Authority areas.

 

22 Once you get your VISA if you decide to stay at only then there are no others Security checks or checkpoints for you to worry about.

 

23 If you go into Palestinian territories then entering into them is not a problem but entering back into Israeli areas you will have to cross checkpoints and may bequestioned about your visit etc. I wasn’t even once.

 

24 When leaving Israel you will be questioned and interrogated again and your phone, laptop, photographs, notes checked. Keep all your bus, hotel and food receipts while you stay in Israel so when you get questioned on your return you can show them.

 

25 The currency of both Israel and Palestinian Authority areas is called Israeli new shekel (NIS). Both Israeless and Arabs merely refer to it as "Shekel". I found that I received a better exchange rate at my local ASDA (in UK) compared to Israel so I then used my non-commission Credit Card and it worked out cheaper compared to changing currency.

 

26 If you will be travelling deep into Palestinian Authority areas carry Euros or US Dollars instead of British Sterling Pounds.

 

27 Israel has standard European Electric sockets and the power supplied is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz.

 

28 I stayed at Mount Olives Hotel; it is owned by Palestinians and most Guests are also Muslims.

 

29 Finally, you are entering land which is Holy to Islam, Judaism & Christianity so show some respect. If you are unable to show respect go to Disneyland. If you still decide to go and be discourteous you need to be publicly whipped by a wet lettuce!

 

 

Central-Mosque

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Pictures


(Click on pictures to enlarge)


 


 


 


al-aqsa-mosque-and-dome-of-the-rock1.jpg     masjid-aqsa-design-pic-01.png


 


 


 


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Jerusalem


 


 


 


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Masjid Al-Aqsa


 


 


 


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Dome of the Rock (Qubbatus Saqqara)


 


 


 


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Aerial view


 


 


 


rock in the dome.jpg


The rock under the Dome


 


 


 


Jeruselam.jpg


Sunset


 


 


 


al-aqsa-snow.jpg


Covered in snow

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From Amman to Jerusalem

 

I didn't take this route but I am reproducing it from the blog because most people will take this route into Jerusalem.

 

On Wednesday we travelled from Amman to Jerusalem via the King Hussain (Allenby) Bridge border.

 

We left Amman at 1:15pm after praying Dhuhr and reached the Jordan checkpoint at 3pm. We left the Jordan checkpoint at 4:40pm (sat and waited in-between) to catch the bus over the border.

 

At the Israeli border we were questioned briefly, and then asked to wait in a waiting area after filling in forms. Three out of six of us were questioned again, and they had clearly done some research on us in the meantime. Generally, we were treated quite well by the Israeli security staff. The waiting area had AC and even wifi (though I don't know if we were meant to use this). There was no aggression in the way we were treated.

 

Eventually, we left the border at 8:40pm and reached the Hashimi Hotel at 11pm.

 

The Hashimi Hotel is a very basic hotel/hostel and is not good value for money, the manager was also an unpleasant man in my opinion who spoilt the first night of my trip (my full review Tripadvisor review here) but it is only one of two in the Old City that I know of (the other being the Golden Gate Inn) - if I get the opportunity to go again and the Golden Gate is not available I would stay at the hotel again solely because it is a 7-9 minute walk to Masjid Al Aqsa from the hotel. The Golden Gate will add 1 minute to that walk, but that hotel is cheaper, the bedrooms have more character and from my experience of talking to staff their they seemed more pleasant.

 

Once we were settled we went out to look for something to eat, but only had around 8 shekels each as the exchange rate was very poor at the border and we didn't want to change more. We found a popular takeaway right across the road from the Damascus Gate and had a very good falafel and salad pitta sandwich. After that, we headed back to the hotel for rest so we could make an early start with Fajr at Masjid Al-Aqsa.

 

Tip:

Restaurants are more expensive directly outside of the Damascus Gate (e.g. approx £9 for quarter/half roast chicken and fries), if you walk out of the gate and turn right, walk for around 8/10 minutes to Sharie Salah ud Deen (Salah ud Deen Street) you can buy Broast Chicken (fried chicken) with wedges and drink for £3.50/£4 and can also find many money exchange places that offer a better rate than close to Damascus gate.

 

Costs:

Taxi Amman to border: 35JD for 6 (£29.35)


Jordan coach: 5.3JD (£4.86)


Israel coach: 42 shekels (£7.11)


falafel sandwich: 7 shekels (£1.20)


Hotel triple room: £25 per night x 3 (£75)

 

taken cetral-mosque (original source)

 

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From Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem

 

Welcome-to-Israel-Sign.jpg

 

Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) is nothing like what you would expect at Dubai or Riyadh.  It is functional and business like with no over the top decorations and lounges. When you are being questioned you will be pointed to a drab room with a few vending machines while you wait for your turn. The rooms are drab, cubicle like and have no fancy wall portraits etc. It is likely that you will not be staying at Tel-Aviv but moving onwards to Jerusalem. Before you can get out of the airport you need to learn to distinguish between various car registration plates and modes of transportation in use across Israel.

 

Remember that Israel and its public transport (buses etc) shut down for Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset).

 

 

 

Private_vehicle_plate_palestine.JPGThese are (white background with green writing) registration plates used in the Palestinian Authority areas. The vehicles and the drivers (usually Arabs) are not allowed into Israel so they won’t be able to take you to The Dome of the Rock and Masjid Aqsa etc. Arabs are only allowed at Masjid Aqsa on the final vaccinate of vaccinate.

 

 

 

 

 il_62-415-36.jpg

These are (yellow background with black writing) registration plates used in Israel and the if you rent a car with this plate or take a Taxi they are not allowed inside Palestinian Authority areas

 

 

 

 israel_cd_33-516-22.jpg

These are (white background with black writing) registration plates used both in Israel and Palestinian Authority areas by diplomats. Don't flag them down because they will vaccinate you for Polio. Just kidding!

 

 

 

 

 Egged_bug_in_Afula_01.jpg

 

Travelling through Israel is easy and Egged is the National Bus Company and you can get on to travel between cities and pay the fair directly to the driver, no need to purchase in advance. Bus number 405 runs multiple times an hour between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem starting from around 06:30 until midnight from the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

 

 

 

But a fantastic way to travel in both Israel and Palestinian Authority areas and is by using shared Taxis. These are called Sherut in Israel and you cancatch one directly from Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) to Jerusalem. Its fairly economical and easy to catch.

 

Sherut2-Flitzy-Phoebie.jpg

 

 

In Palestinian Authority areas these are called Servee and may be of a different colour (Red, White, Half-Yellow) etc; usually some old battered Mercedes.

 

 

 

I took the train from Ben Gurion International Airport (Tel-Aviv) to Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and the problem with that is that you would need to know the exact station name in Hebrew otherwise you may end up somewhere else.

7-light-rail-train.jpg

 

Central-Mosque

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Where to in Jerusalem?

 

It doesn’t really matter how you get into Jerusalem but you want to end up eventually around Damascus Gate. If you are booking Hotels or travelling via a group (recommended) then ask about the distance to Damascus Gate. Transportation and most sites are easily accessible from here and remember that Damascus Gate is called باب العامود (Bab Alaamud)in Arabic.

 

 

Damascus_Gate_-_%D7%A9%D7%A2%D7%A8_%D7%A

 

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Masjid Aqsa & Dome of the Rock:

 

Rejoice as there are no border crossings or checkpoints while you stay in Jerusalem and the city is safe for your family and kids. Orient yourself as to where you are using these maps as they are concise and extremely helpful:

 

 

sxhlr4.jpg

 

 

 

oldjer.gif

 

 

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Places to Visit in Jerusalem

 

Mosque of Omar:

 

Mosque_of_Omar_in_Jerusalem.jpg

 

 

When Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) was given the keys of he refused to pray inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre thus granting the Christian places of worship sanctuary and protection under Muslim rule. The spot outside the Church where he prayed was turned into a Mosque by the son of Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi (1138-1193). Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din (1169-1225) built the original structure which you see in the pictures, inline with other Islamic places of worship Non-Muslims are not allowed here. 

This Mosque is only open during prayer hours for Muslims which are the same as Masjid Aqsa.

 

Umar_MosqueJerusalem123.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

 

Holy_Jesus_Prison_inside_Church_of_the_H

 

 

The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The church has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world.

 

According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, "the place of the skull" (Matt. 27:33–35; Mark 15:22–25; John 19:17–24). This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city wall of the time.

 

About 10 years after the crucifixion, a third wall was built that enclosed the area of the execution and burial within the city, and this accounts for the Holy Sepulchre's location inside the Old City of Jerusalem today.

 

Holy Jesus Prison inside Church of the Holy SepulchreThe Roman emperor Constantine I, a convert to Christianity, had the temple of Venus in Jerusalem demolished to make way for a church. In the course of the demolition a tomb was discovered that was thought to be the tomb of Jesus.

 

another-view-of-the-entrance.jpg

 

The original (above) is now covered to protect it from damage and it looks like a shrine where faithful Christians from all over the world come for pilgrimage. The keys to the Church to this day is held by a Muslim (Nusaybah) family. During my visit a high ranking Christian delegation was visiting and they needed to visit some sites in (the side street) and it was indeed a Muslim who walked in front of them to open the locked door as it has been the tradition since 638. I saw this with my own eyes!

 

The site where the Church stands was originally built by Hadrian (76-138 AD) as a tribute to Roman goddess Venus. Constantine the Great (272-327) had the temple replaced by this Church as he believed it to be the site where Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) was supposidly crucified. Muslims actually don’t believe that Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) was crucified at all.

 

 

وَقَوۡلِهِمۡ إِنَّا قَتَلۡنَا ٱلۡمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ٱبۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ رَسُولَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَـٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمۡ‌ۚ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ لَفِى شَكٍّ۬ مِّنۡهُ‌ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِۦ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ إِلَّا ٱتِّبَاعَ ٱلظَّنِّ‌ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينَۢا

 

[4:157] and for their saying, .We have certainly killed the Masih Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) the son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah., while in fact they did neither kill him, nor crucify him, but they were deluded by resemblance. Those who disputed in this matter are certainly in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it, but they follow whims. It is absolutely certain that they did not kill him.

 

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Bethlehem

My first question to an Arab Scholar of Arabic was about the name. Why is this city called “بيت لحم‎” or House of Meat in Arabic? The answer is that in classical Arab (at the time) لحم was also used for Bread so the actual translation should be “House of Bread & Meat” which is due to the Birth of Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) in Bethlehem.

 

Bethlehem is actually in Palestinian Territory so you take a Bus from Jerusalem and cross an Israeli & then a Palestinian checkpoint. In practise nobody cares and nobody checks when you are leaving and you have no hassle but when you return you may be checked at Israeli checkpoint so keep your pictures and details (of your trip) handy.

 

When you disembark at you will find Palestinian Taxi drivers and Servee (shared Taxis) and you can do a deal for them to take you wherever you like within Palestinian Territories. All guidebooks recommend that you take a Palestinian Taxi driver because they know exactly how to avoid Isareli checkpoints and how to get around a whole bunch of hiccups.

 

 

 

Church of the Nativity:

Build around 327 AD this is traditionally considered by the Christians to be near the cave where was born. This was constructed by Saint Helena (250-330 AD) who was the mother of Constantine the Great (272-327) and they had actually converted to Christianity. The construction was part of First Council of Nicaea (around 325 AD) to build on sites related to Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS).

 

 

 

Mosque of Omar:

Across the Church of the Nativity stands the Mosque of Omar. The land for this Mosque was donated to Muslims around 1860 by the Greek Orthodox Church as a tribute to Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA). Entrance is only for Muslims and the prayer times are almost the same as Masjid Aqsa.

 

 

 

The original Mosque of Omar:

20150217_094240.jpg

 

This is a second Mosque of Omar in Bethlehem, much older compared to the one built on the land donated by Greek Orthodox Church.

 

Right outside the city limits of Bethlehem this is the original Mosque of Omar built by Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi (1138-1193)  and the Palestinians believe that Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) first stopped here at Bethlehem to pray before entering. This Mosque is not shown in any guidebooks or websites so do visit during your trip to.

 

Beneath the original tomb is a locked room where Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) prayed. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this Mosque but it is certainly one of the oldest Mosques in Palestine.

 

20150217_094446.jpg

 

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Hebron

 

Historically this city is associated with Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) according to Authentic Islamic tradition. Since Allah (SWT) took Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) as his close friend (Al-Khalil) the historic (Islamic) name of this city is “الخليل(Al-Khalil). The Qur’aan states:

 

وَمَنۡ أَحۡسَنُ دِينً۬ا مِّمَّنۡ أَسۡلَمَ وَجۡهَهُ ۥ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحۡسِنٌ۬ وَٱتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ حَنِيفً۬ا‌ۗ وَٱتَّخَذَ ٱللَّهُ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ خَلِيلاً۬

[4:125] Who is better in Faith than one who has surrendered his self to Allah and is good in deeds, and has followed the creed of Ibrahim, the upright. Allah has made Ibrahim a friend.

 

 

Al-Khalil was always Palestinian territory and unlike Jerusalem it's sovereignty has never been disputed. In 1968 a group led by Extremist Zionist Rabbi Moshe Levinger rented a Hotel and then refused to leave. The hardliner (one-eyed) Israeli defence minister Moshe Dayan instead of evicting them decided to move them to an abandoned military base thus starting an Israeli settlement which is now smack bang in the middle of Palestinians. These hard-line Zionist settler number around 500, protected by 4,000 heavily armed Israeli soldiers and make life intolerable for over 400,000 Palestine. Since the settlers are on higher grounds they walk around fully armed, throw rocks and even shot right in the middle of the Bazars. You will read guidebooks where Foreign Tourists who try to get friendly with Palestinians are abused or stones thrown at them. The Bazar is covered by make shift tin roofs to stop Zionist stones from reaching tourists. The Zionists also regularly dump their trash straight down on the heads of Palestinians and Tourist. You can see the net in the picture to try to prevent that.

Sanctuary of Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS):

 

Palestinian access is tightly controlled by Israeli checkpoint and my Taxi driver was stopped from entering. The grave of Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) actually has a Bulletproof partition because in 1994 the Extremist Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 unarmed Palestinians and injured 129. I was denied entry to the Yaqub [Jacob] (AS) graveside which is reserved for Jews and told that he is a Jewish Prophet!

 

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Sanctuary of Lut [Lot] (AS):

 

tomb_of_lut_as.jpg

 

The picture (above) is of the Mosque where Lut [Lot] (AS) stayed

 

Lut [Lot] (AS) sas a Prophet of Allah (SWT) according to Islam and pious personality according to Judeo-Christian tradition. Qur’aan tells his story and the divine punishment on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah  as follows:

 

ذۡ قَالَ لَهُمۡ أَخُوهُمۡ لُوطٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ (١٦١) إِنِّى لَكُمۡ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ۬ (١٦٢) فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ (١٦٣) وَمَآ أَسۡـَٔلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ مِنۡ أَجۡرٍ‌ۖ إِنۡ أَجۡرِىَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (١٦٤) أَتَأۡتُونَ ٱلذُّكۡرَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (١٦٥) وَتَذَرُونَ مَا خَلَقَ لَكُمۡ رَبُّكُم مِّنۡ أَزۡوَٲجِكُم‌ۚ بَلۡ أَنتُمۡ قَوۡمٌ عَادُونَ (١٦٦) قَالُواْ لَٮِٕن لَّمۡ تَنتَهِ يَـٰلُوطُ لَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمُخۡرَجِينَ (١٦٧) قَالَ إِنِّى لِعَمَلِكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡقَالِينَ (١٦٨) رَبِّ نَجِّنِى وَأَهۡلِى مِمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ (١٦٩) فَنَجَّيۡنَـٰهُ وَأَهۡلَهُ ۥۤ أَجۡمَعِينَ (١٧٠) إِلَّا عَجُوزً۬ا فِى ٱلۡغَـٰبِرِينَ (١٧١) ثُمَّ دَمَّرۡنَا ٱلۡأَخَرِينَ (١٧٢) وَأَمۡطَرۡنَا عَلَيۡهِم مَّطَرً۬ا‌ۖ فَسَآءَ مَطَرُ ٱلۡمُنذَرِينَ (١٧٣) إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ (١٧٤) وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

 

[26:161] when their brother Lut said to them, .Do you not fear Allah? [26:162] I am an honest messenger for you.[26:163] So fear Allah and obey me.[26:164] I do not claim from you any reward for it. My reward is with none but with the Lord of the worlds. [26:165] Do you go to the males (for having sex) out of the whole universe, [26:166] and leave your wives whom your Lord has created for you? Indeed you are a people who cross (all) limits.[26:167] They said, .If you do not stop O Lut, you shall be included among the outcast.. [26:168] He said .Indeed, I am annoyed with your act. [26:169] My Lord, save me and my family from what they do.. [26:170 So We saved him and his family, all of them [26:171] except an old woman among those who remained behind. [26:172] Then We destroyed the others, [26:173] and subjected them to a terrible rain. So evil was the rain of those who were warned. [26:174] Surely, in this there is a sign, but most of them are not believers, [26:175] and indeed your Lord is the Mighty, the Merciful.

 

Mountain_where_Ibrahim_AS_did_sijdah.JPG

 

The picture above is where Ibraheem [Abraham] (AS) prostrated to his Lord (SWT) when he witnessed the divine punishment towards the peopke of people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

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Sanctuary of Younis [Jonah] (AS):

 

:mosque_of_yunus_as.jpg

 

The Masjid which houses the gravesite of Younis [Jonah] (AS) is about 5 KM outside of Hebron in a city called Halhul.This Mosque was originally constructed and sponsored during the Ayyubid dynasty and I have some doubts about the historical authenticity of the originator but I will record the following from the discoverislamicart (on their Authority):

 

The building is composed of a mosque and a maqam (tomb). The mosque is a new construction undertaken amidst the rubble of the original Ayyubid mosque. Composed of two stories, the first level includes the remains of the Ayyubid mosque, while the burial area is at the basement (crypt) level of the maqam. The maqam of the Prophet Jonah is accessed from inside the mosque via the ground-floor entrance, thus the visitor can see what remains of the old mosque by passing through the centre of it in the direction of the qibla (south).

 

The old maqam consists of a building with a square ground plan that is surrounded on the south, east and west by porticoes. Each portico is supported by three large piers which bear skilfully built cross vaults. Beneath the porticoes, are windows that overlook the commemorative tomb chamber, this is square in form and topped by a barrel vault. The tomb is covered by a green cloth, as is customary for Islamic shrines. Above the west window of the tomb chamber there is a woven-silk panel (kiswa) upon which is the name of the deceased. The panel, which resembles those found in the Haram al-Ibrahimi in Hebron, is in the late Ottoman style and may date to the period of Sultan Abd al-Hamid. The tomb itself is a wooden structure with the burial chamber beneath it in an underground room below the mosque. The tomb is inaccessible and cannot be visited. It does not face the qibla as is customary in Islam but deviates towards the southwest. This is perhaps because the maqam dates to the Pre-Islamic era, along with a series of other old tombs that have been discovered during expansion works of the mosque. The residents of this area associate the maqam with miracles and it forms a centre for religious heritage and the folklore of the region.

 

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Jericho

Although it is called أريحا Arriha in Arabic the Palestinians also usually refer to it as Jericho. It is the most excavated city and presumed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city of the world. Again the minute you tell the Palestinians that you are from “Pakistan” the whole time erupts everywhere. You don’t get entrance fees, you get offered free gifts and you get your 15 minutes of fame!

 

Zacchaeus & the Sycamore Tree:

This is a story from the bible as to how Eesa [Jesus of Nazareth] (AS) met Zacchaeus (Tax Collector) as follows:

 

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way... [Luke 19:1-10]

This tree is estimated to be around 2000 years old and Christians believe that the fruit of this tree which is extremely bitter if consumed (bearing the bitterness with patience) is a cure for all diseases.

 

 

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Dead sea, Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias):

 

-300_meters_down.JPG

 

Muslims believe that one of the signs of the end of the world is drying up of water in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) as narrated in a lengthy but Authentic tradition of Muhammad (570-632) [Peace be upon Him] which is actually a conversation between the companion who is lost and the Dajjal (Anti-Christ), the companion who is led there by hairy beast called Al-Jassasa. Dajjal (Anti-Christ) predicts that water in will one day dry up and checks the state of the water (1400) years ago from the visiting companion as follows:

 

أخبروني عن بحيرة طبرية. قلنا: عن أي شيء تستخبر؟ قال: هل فيها ماء؟ قالوا: هي كثيرة الماء. قال: أما إن ماءها يوشك أن يذهب

 

He [Dajjal (Anti-Christ)] asked, ‘Inform me of the lake of Tiberias. Is there water in it?’ We replied, ‘It is full of water.’ He Dajjal (Anti-Christ) informed us, ‘Soon its water will disappear.’... [Muslim]

 

I didn’t go to Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) but I visited the Dead sea (which is the source) around the spot where it is 300 meters below sea level and the Israeli Government has a desalination to use this for drinking water and they use the Dead sea salt in Cosmetics (as miracle beauty and Health products). The water has retracted for miles and there is a lot of sand for miles and little water.

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Nablus

 

This is the hub of Palestinian trade and culture. Allah (SWT) has blessed this city with greenery and vegetation and prices are about half of what they are in the rest of Israel. Discussing the prices with my Taxi driver I asked him as to why he doesn’t buy produce from here and sell it near Bethlehem? He replied that at Israeli checkpoints they regularly and deliberately destroy produce to crush the Palestinians economically so Palestinians are scared to lose their merchandise (and invested capital) therefore don’t buy anything from here even at half prices!

 

 

Nablus is also famous for holding the Guinness Book of World record for the largest Kanafeh in the whole world. My driver insisted that I eat it! Since I was from Pakistan he actually paid for my Kanafeh as a gift from Palestine. Apparently, you cannot visit Nablus without eating Kanafeh!

There are two Mosques in Nablus which are both associated with the incident when Yaqub [Jacob] (AS) was shown the (false) blood soaked shirt of Yusuf [Joseph] (AS) by his brothers.

 

وَجَآءُو عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِۦ بِدَمٍ۬ كَذِبٍ۬‌ۚ قَالَ بَلۡ سَوَّلَتۡ لَكُمۡ أَنفُسُكُمۡ أَمۡرً۬ا‌ۖ فَصَبۡرٌ۬ جَمِيلٌ۬‌ۖ وَٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُسۡتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ

 

[12:18] And they came with fake blood on his shirt. He said, .Rather, your inner desires have tempted you to do something. So, patience is best. It is Allah whose help is sought against what you describe.‘‘

 

 

This one to is called Great Mosque of Nablus and it is a narrow and long Mosque right in the middle of the Market town. 

 

 

AL-Kebir.JPG

 

 

The other is the Al-Khadra Mosque which was  damaged by the Knights Templars during Crusades and then destroyed by the Mongols to be rebuilt. The Mosque was 85% destoryed by Israeli bulldozers when they locked the city of 200,000 down and banned all entry/exit in 2002 for 100 days. The picture is for historical archives of what it used to look like before Israeli destruction.

 

250px-Khadra_Mosque_Minaret.jpg

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