South African ulema have made an impassioned appeal on Muslims to remain conscious of the siege of Masjidul Aqsa, which has been a flashpoint of violence recently. After a night of unrest at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, fresh clashes broke out on Wednesday between Israeli forces and musallees protesting new metal detectors installed at the compound. The site was closed to non-Muslim visitors after a group of right-wing Israelis attempted to pray in the compound.
Some 70 people were injured, three seriously, during Isha prayers on Tuesday night, including journalists, medics, and Sheikh Akrama Sabri, head of High Islamic Committee, who underwent surgery after being shot by Israeli police with a rubber-coated steel bullet and beaten with batons.
Clashes broke out a new midday on Wednesday following Thuhr prayers, with Israeli forces firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades at worshipers at the Lions’ Gate entrance to Al-Aqsa, where protests have been on-going since the metal detectors were installed Sunday in response to a deadly shoot-out at the compound two days prior.
According to the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), the escalation of violence should not be seen isolation of the Zionist regime’s strategic plan for Al Aqsa. The MJC and the Al Quds Foundation of South Africa have been years been raising the alarm on the dangers facing the Noble Sanctuary and the continued excavations being carried out by Zionist authorities at the compound. Masjidul Aqsa is the third holiest site for Muslims, but is also sacred to Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
“We should not forget that the Israeli Zionist regime is making effort day and night to empty the city of Jerusalem and its surrounding suburbs of its historic and legitimate citizens, the Palestinian people. We should not forget that the Zionist Israeli regime has been implementing their space severance and time severance programme in the Al Aqsa compound for the past few years,” said MJC secretary general Shaykh Isgaak Taliep.
Recently, Palestine’s Minster of Religious Affairs Sheikh Yousif Ideis has warned that Israel is attempting to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem al-Quds. Ideis stressed that Israel was trying to destroy the mosque via the daily excavations it carries out under the compound. Israeli authorities frequently issue permits for excavations and archaeological digs in close vicinity of the al-Aqsa compound. Such actions have resulted in the collapse of several Palestinian homes and damage to the mosque and its surrounding buildings.
Maulana Ebrahim Bham, the secretary general of the Jamiatul Ulema South Africa, said the threats to Al Aqsa should be a matter of concern to all South Africans and raises tensions with serious consequences.
“It is important to note that regardless of Israel’s claimed jurisdiction of East Jerusalem, after annexing it at the end of the 1967 War, the international regards the territory as occupied,” he said.
“The extra security measures should be seen as the Zionist occupation’s continuing tactics of Judaization of the Noble Sanctuary and the surrounding East Jerusalem, slowly, but steadily wrestling control from the recognised custodians, the Waqf authorities.”
“We demand that Israel ends the restrictions on Masjdul Aqsa which represents collective punishment on the Palestinian people and a blatant disregard for internationally recognised conventions,” urged Bham.
The encroachment on the Palestinian right to movement at Al Aqsa has created discomfort and frustration for the Palestinians. Over the past few days, Palestinians have been resolute in their refusal to enter the compound under the extreme security measures, with thousands praying in the streets of Al Quds in protest.
At the same time, the issue has invoked a very strong sentiment in the hearts of the global Muslim ummah. Ulema have urged South African Muslims to intensify their defence of the first Qiblah of Islam and the Third Holiest Site in Islam in three practical ways:
1. Fast every Thursday in solidarity with the besieged Palestinians
2. Imams of Masajid should perform the Qunoot during Salaah for the entire day on Thursday, 20 July until Jumuah.
3. Breakfast at the MJC’s Thursday Siyaam programme at Masjid Taqwa, Newfields (Cnr Alleman & Athwood Road), Cape Town.
4. All Imams should have a special Iftaar programme after Maghrib Salaah on Thursday and update communities on the latest developments at Al Aqsa
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