Jerusalem: The officials of Palestine have chalked out a plan for attracting more Muslim visitors to one of the Islam’s holiest places, Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The decision for luring more visitors to the mosque has been taken even though there are differences among Muslim scholars whether to allow visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli occupation or not.
Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister, Mahmoud al-Habash, commented, “Some Muslims have not visited Al-Aqsa mosque since 1967, but this was a big mistake.”
“We have now decided to correct our mistake,” he added.
The visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque have been informally boycotted by the Muslims since 1967 war when Israel seized Al-Quds (East Jerusalem) and the West Bank from Jordan.
Some Muslims had a view that visiting to Al-Aqsa Mosque would mean to accept the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.
Now, the Palestinian and Jordanian officials are willing to withdraw from the informal boycott of visiting the holy place.
Palestinian officials have launched a plan to attract between one to two million Muslims visitors to Al-Aqsa Mosque annually.
A senior Muslim official involved in the plan, on condition of anonymity, informed, “It would protect Al-Aqsa and also provide an enormous boost to the Palestinian economy.”
According to the Palestinian officials, Israeli Judaization campaign can be curtailed by boosting visits of Muslims to Al-Quds.
Habash observed while referring to Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank town which was controlled by Muslims for centuries, “In Al-Aqsa, we don't want to see a repetition of what happened in Hebron.”
“After the 1967 war, Israel began letting settlers pray in the Ibrahimi Mosque,” he added.
He continued, “Step by step, day by day, year by year, they occupied more than half the mosque and made that into a synagogue.”
Sharif Qaddoumi, 26, a researcher at Al-Quds University, said, “Jerusalem has undergone countless occupations throughout history, and it was never a problem to come visit it.”
“So I don't understand why it's suddenly a problem,” he added.
It should be noted here that Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, encouraged the Muslims from all over the world to pay visit to Al-Quds in last February as it will not only show solidarity with the Palestinians but it will also help counter Israel's attempts to Judaize the city.
He said, “Visiting a prisoner is an act of support and does not mean normalization with the warden.”
The appeal by the Palestinian President was welcomed in the Muslim world and many top Arab and Muslim leaders have visited Al-Aqsa Mosque and offered prayers there by now for supporting the Palestinian cause.
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Mohammad Ahmad Husein, has also issued a fatwa in favor of visits by foreign Muslims to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
However, an influential scholar, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, issued his own fatwa against foreign Muslims visiting Al-Quds.
Grand Mufti Husein said, “We will not give up.”
“Al-Aqsa is important for Muslims because it is important for God,” he concluded.