February 11

Middle – East Tour – PALESTINE

PALESTINE


Front View of Masjid-e-Aqsa

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The name ‘Al-Aqsa mosque’ translates to ‘the farthest mosque’ and is the 3rd most holy place for muslims. It was here that in around 621 AD the prophet Muhammed (saw) came on the night journey from Mecca riding on the Buraq. Note that the whole land on which the mosque is located is regarded as sacred to muslims and known as Haram Sharief.

The Mihrab of Masjid-e-Aqsa

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This marble structure is the mihrab of the present al-aqsa mosque. The mimbar on the right was given by the Jordanian government after the original (which was given by Salahuddin Ayyubi) was destroyed in a fire started by a fanatical jew in 1967.



The Original Qiblah, Masjid-e-Aqsa

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The floor underneath the present mosque is regarded to be the real al- aqsa mosque. This area underground is believed to be the original qibla to where muslims initially prayed. It is in the opposite direction of the present qibla in Mecca.

Underneath the present Mosque, Al-Aqsa

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 The stone pillars on the right are believed to have been erected by jinn’at in the time of Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.). The small mihrab is believed to be the place where Mariam (a.s.) used to receive out of season fruits when she was pregnant with Hazrat Isa (a.s.).

Marwan-e-Masjid

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This praying area, which is underground and on the left side of the present al-aqsa mosque was the Marwan-e-masjid and has recently been restored. When the Crusaders had control of the mosque they used to use this area as stables for their horses and it became known as Solomon’s stables.

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

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The Dome of the Rock (Qubbatus Saqqara) is often mistaken to be the Al-Aqsa mosque. This structure was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik from 688 to 691 and houses the sacred rock from which the prophet Muhammed (saw) ascended to heaven after the night journey to Jerusalem.

Interior of Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

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This is the actual rock in the foreground and a cave exists underneath it. It is the opinion of some scholars that the angel Israfeel (a.s.) will blow the soor (trumpet) from this place to herald the Day of Judgement.

Buraq Masjid

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This small structure, on the right of the al-aqsa mosque is believed to be the place where the prophet Muhammed (s.a.w.) tied the buraq, the winged riding animal upon which he rode during the night of ascension. The western wall which is on the right is what the jews call the Wailing Wall.

Crusader Cross (on Haram Sharief)

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This is the remains of the cross on which the Crusaders, upon conquering Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of the resident muslims on. It was broken up when Salahuddin Ayyubi re-conquered the city.

Masjid-e-Khalil, Hebron

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Masjid-e-Kalil in Hebron is built over a small cemetery where lies the graves of four of the most illustrious prophets and their wives. The four prophets are Hazrat Ebrahim (a.s.), his son Isaaq (a.s.), his son Yaqub (a.s.) and his son Yusuf (a.s.). A view down to the cemetery can be seen from the small circular structure above.

Tomb of Hazrat Ebrahim (AS)

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This is the tomb of Hazrat Ebrahim (a.s.) which is built directly above his actual grave which is below ground. On the far side are the windows from the jewish synagogue which is built right next to the mosque. This place is a source of great friction between muslims and jews.

Tomb of Hazrat Isaaq (AS), Hebron

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These are the tombs of Hazrat Isaaq (a.s.) (right) and his wife Rifaqah (left) and are directly over their graves which are below ground. These tombs are on the muslim side along with Sarah (a.s.), one of the wives of Ebrahim (a.s.). The tombs of Hazrat Yaqub and Yusuf (a.s.) are on the jewish side. Jews and muslims are allowed to enter the others area for 10 days in a year.

Mosque of Hazrat Yunus (AS)

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 The grave of Hazrat Yunus (a.s.) is housed inside this mosque, not far from Jerusalem. Occasionally, Jews come to visit also.

Grave of Abdullah bin Masood (RA)

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This small structure (close to the mosque of Yunus a.s.) contains the grave of Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood (r.a.); one of the most eminent companions of Rasulullah (s.a.w.). The olive tree on the left is believed to be more than 1400 years old.

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

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 It is believed by the Christians that Hazrat Isa (a.s.) was born in this place. A marble floor (inset) denotes the exact spot.

Tomb of Hazrat Lut (AS)

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 This building on the right houses a tomb which is believed to be of Hazrat Lut (a.s.) and is situated near the Dead Sea.

February 10

Middle – East Tour – SYRIA

SYRIA

Omayyad Mosque – Damascus

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This mosque is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. Originally the site was a pagan temple, then a church before the mosque was built by Caliph Al-Walid 1 between 706 and 715.

Omayyad Mosque – Damascus

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This minaret, which is on the left side of the mosque is known as the Jesus minaret. It is from here that Hazrat Isa (a.s.) will descend back on earth towards the end of time.

Shrine of Yahya (AS) – Damascus

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Legend has it that this small structure within the Omayyad mosque houses the head of Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) (John the Baptist).

 

Grave of Salahuddin Ayyubi – Damascus

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The green tomb on the right houses the grave of Salahuddin Ayyubi, the great general who repelled the Crusaders and recaptured Jerusalem for the muslims.

 

Grave of Khalid bin Waleed (RA)

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Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed (r.a.), the companion of Rasulullah (s.a.w.) and the greatest muslim general is buried along with his son in a corner of this mosque in Hims.

 

Monastery of Bahira, The Monk

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This ruin was the monastery of Bahira, a righteous Christian monk who was aware of the coming of a great prophet. When the prophet Muhammed (saw) was between nine and twelve years old he accompanied his uncle Abu Talib to a business trip to Syria. Bahira saw a cloud giving constant shade to the prophet and recognised him to be the one that was foretold in the scriptures.

 

Krak de Chevalier, near Hims

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This is the interior of Krak de Chevalier castle, the best preserved Crusader castle in the world. Salahuddin Ayyuby laid siege to it but was unable to conquer it. It was eventually taken from the Crusaders by Sultan Baybers.

February 10

Middle – East Tour – JORDAN

This presentation gives a pictorial record of holy Islamic sites we visited during trips to the Middle-East.

It is intended to raise more awareness among muslims of our history and heritage. The locations of graves of Prophets and Sahabah are shown only for information purposes.

Please note that apart from the major sites all other places are not 100% proved to be genuine; the knowledge of these places have been carried down the ages.

Allah (swt) knows best.

A & R Chohan (2008)

 

JORDAN

Cave of Ashabe-Kahf, Amman

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Where several Christian boys sought refuge from a tyrannical pagan king. Allah (swt) caused them to sleep for approximately 309 years. Their story is mentioned in the holy Quran in Surah Kahf.

 

Place of Mu’ta

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Where the muslims first fought against the Romans. The graves of 3 sahabah, Zaid bin Haritha, Jafar bin Abi Talib and Abdullah bin Rawahah (r.a.) are here. It was in this battle Hazrat Khalid bin Walid (Saifullah – the sword of Allah) first became amir of a muslim army.

 

Tomb of Hazrat Shoayb (AS)

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There is a grave in this mosque which is believed to be the grave of Hazrat Shoayb (a.s.). He was the father-in-law of Hazrat Musa (a.s.) and was sent to the people of Madyan.

 

The Treasury, Petra

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This is one of a series of buildings built by the Nabateans who followed a pagan religion. Some scholars are of the opinion that they were the people of Thamud.

The holes in the walls are footholds which they used for positioning while they carved into the rock.

 

Tomb of Harum (AS), Petra

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The white building on top of this mountain is believed to house the tomb of Hazrat Harun (a.s.) who was the brother of Hazrat Musa (a.s.). It is close to the valley of Petra.

February 3

Explanation of Surah Al Asr

I had a chance to attend an Urdu majlis by Maulana Ghlulam Raza Roohani of Karachi in Austin, Texas. It was such a wonderful speech that I felt it obligatory to share the excerpts with you.



His subject was Surah Al-Asr. He started with why Allah is swearing by Asr or time. When someone swears he swears for two reasons:



a. To defend himself against a blame. Such as I swear by Allah I did not do it. Obviously in Allah’s case it does not apply

b. To underscore the importance of a subject someone is going to talk about.



So in this surah “b” applies. Now when someone swears he swears by something or someone very important to him. Such as we swear by Allah or Qur’an or by our children or by our parents and so on. Allah is swearing by “time”. That indicates the importance of “time”. As we know time is extremely important as a resource. Today will never come back. We have been given a certain amount of time in this world and every second our allocation is decreasing. Every year we celebrate birthdays whereas a birthday in truth means now we have less time left. Allah is emphasizing the importance of time.



So Allah is saying that He is going to talk about something very important in this surah.



1. The first verse says, “all human beings are at a loss”. He does not say Muslims; he says all human beings. Then Maulana gave an example of an escalator in a mall. One escalator is going up and the other is going down. He said that all human beings are riding a down-going escalator. Basically they are losers.



Then Allah follows up with a prescription how to avoid being at a loss.



2. The second verse says, “except those who believe”. So this is the first condition. We have to believe in Him and other things He wants us to believe in.



3. However, just believing does not suffice. The third verse says, “and perform good deeds”.



At this point Maulana gave an example of making tea. Tea requires certain ingredients — water, tea bag, milk and sugar. If any of the four ingredients are missing, tea will not be good. However, even if you have all these ingredients and you mix them up will you have a good cup of tea? No, you need heat. Eeman is the heat. Believing in Allah, His justice, the Prophet, the Imams and Qiyamat is the heat.



We may think that now we are done. We have belief and we have done good deeds so we should be home free.



4. No, next verse says that you have to spread the truth. This is what Imam Hussain went to Karbala for. He was doing a wonderful job with verses #1 and #2 but it was not enough for him. At this point Maulana gave a great example. He said that in the West there is a lot of emphasis on individuality that one should keep his affairs to himself and should not interfere in others’ affairs. In other words Amr Bil Maroof and Nahi Anil Munkar should be avoided. His example was as follows.



Suppose you have a friend who has low income and lives in a small apartment. Then one day he invites you for a dinner at his new house that he just bought. You go to his house and are astonished that it is a huge mansion with a large number of rooms, swimming pool, a large lot and so on. You ask him how he got such a house. He tells you that there was a big sale on 10-12 of such mansions with 99% discount. The house was worth $5M but he got it for $50,000. Will you not get angry with him that he knew about such a sale and there were more houses available but he did not tell you about it so you could also have purchased it?



Maulana said that such is the case with us knowing about Ahlul Bayt and not spreading the word. On the day of Qiyama people are going to ask us why we did not tell them about such a good deal. They are going to ask why we did not tell them about the fazeelat of going to sleep at night with w the case with us knowing about Ahlul Bayt and not spreading the word. On the day of Qiyama people are going to

ask us why we did not tell them about such a good deal. They are going to ask why we did not tell them about the fazeelat of going to sleep at night with wudhu so they could also have benefited from it.



5. The last verse talks about sabr. We need to be patient with spreading the truth as it is not easy. And the trick is to develop a team. You will be discouraged by many people who will not listen to you. Your wife or sister or daughter is going to refuse wearing hijab and you will have to be patient. You cannot use force; you just have to be patient and slowly build a team who will encourage you on such disappointments.



Then Maulana related it to Karbala. What Bibi Zainab went through. The sabr she showed at Karbala, Kufa, Syria, Madina and back to Syria.



This was the first time I heard Surah Al-Asr explained in such a beautiful manner. I always used to wonder why this Surah is recited at so many occasions and today I came to find out the answer that

this surah carries principles for success in the next world in a beautiful and concise manner.



I pray that others would benefit from these excerpts as much as I did from the speech.

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