In the wake of the United States’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel, I heard yet another Friday sermon on the centrality of Jerusalem and al-Masjid al-Aqsa to Muslims’ religious practice. In fact, every time Israel commits some atrocity towards the Palestinians and Lebanese, such as its 1982 and 2006 invasions of Lebanon, its using its Apartheid Wall to seize more land from Palestinians in the West Bank or its election-cycle timed massacres in Gaza, I hear some sermon like today’s. I’m sure the preacher thinks that he is exhorting Muslims to support the Palestinians, and I don’t criticize that motive.
But telling us that ritual prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqsa is religiously meritorious would imply that the Zionists don’t want Muslims to pray there. My guess is that Zionists pray that millions of Muslims from all over the world would fly El Al, land in Tel Aviv’s airport, exchange their riyals, dinars, rupees, CFA francs, nairas, rupiahs and liras into shekels, pay for tourist visas, spend money in Israeli hotels, restaurants and gift shops, attend prayers in al-Masjid al-Aqsa and return home.
I care more about restoring the rights of descendants of families expelled from their homes in 1948 than I do about al-Masjid al-Aqsa which, even if the Zionists should destroy the structure built there, will always retain its religious significance.
At the moment, our only viable tactics are direct relief of Palestinians’ suffering, support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and working to improve the governments which rule Muslim-majority nations.