I said I would go into my journey in a little bit more detail so here we go, I am still going to split my experience up a little bit as there is soo much I want to write about and in detail and I find myself just waffling on while typing away…
My journey before deciding to visit Al-Quds was not an easy one. I had been through a few tough trials Islamically which I am not ready to go into at this precise moment in time but let’s say Al-Aqsa is the spiritual awakening I needed to find myself. Alhumdullilah I most definitely did.
We decided to travel with Zaarvel travel who had lined up 4 days of jammed packed things to do in Jerusalem and its vicinity. Many people know or maybe you don’t but the journey to get to Al-Aqsa is as hard as going to any haram in this day and age and you don’t know if you will make it until you are there. I was expecting the journey to be somewhat difficult. The first leg of the journey was relatively painless (not including the tyre burst and nearly missing the flight SubhanAllah lol) although I am not the best of flyers take-off and landing just don’t agree with me and half my face (oh the pain!). Once we arrived in Tel-Aviv half the group of 51 were let through relatively painlessly but then the other half of the group were kept behind for questioning this process took 6 hours YES! 6 HOURS!
Luckily, we expected this so we had plenty of snacks in our luggage and we laughed our way through the wait getting to know some of the group along the way. This is where your journey becomes a real test of patience and it somewhat reminded me of my journey to the blessed Hajj. It bought it home that this is a Haram and I am totally blessed to even get this far.
Once on the coach we were getting super tired at this point but the excitement of being able to see Al-Aqsa was also building up and we all stared out the windows eagerly waiting. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the hotel the compound was under lock-down but the beautiful hotel we stayed in had the most amazing top balcony with views of Al-Aqsa and Dome of the rock which took our breath away and without waiting we ran straight up after food to soak it all in. At this point I really could not wait to get there and pray and pray till my heart is content.
The anticipation grew knowing we were so close, we got to stay in beautiful hotel in the old city called Hashimi Hotel. A lovely hotel with the most amazing hospitality I have ever come across in all my travels. From serving us food at 1am for when we arrived after 6 hour wait through to giving us insight into the life they lead via talks over dinner which were educational to say the least. If you ever go make sure you book with this special hotel literally a stone throw away from the Al-Aqsa compound and one of the few hotels based within the walls of the Old City.
After only a couple of hours sleep once we settled into our rooms we woke up 4.30am to the sound of adhan ringing around the compound as we walked to Masjid Qibli for Tahajjud and Fajr salah. The birds were flying and peacefully singing. The sky over the area is just something else, it seems so much higher than normal and a different aura that cannot be explained unless you’re there and see it. The serenity you feel at this time in the morning is also something else.
We walked through the big green doors after being checked and acknowledge by the Palestinian Guards as well as the Israeli Guard whom guard the doors into the compound.
As we walked through a glimpse of gold was shining through the trees, my heart was beating faster and faster knowing I am about to see in person a building I have seen all my life only in film and pictures. Once we walked around the trees there stood the Dome of the Rock at the top of a flight of stairs and through some pillars (we later found out they stand for the 5 pillars of Islam).
Seeing the Dome of the Rock for the first time struck me with awe. Something we are so used to seeing it in pictures that actually being stood in front of it was literally a dream come true. Knowing I am walking the steps of a prophet of Allah actually not just one prophet but all 124,000 had prayed behind prophet Muhammed peace be upon him, was beyond what a little all atom of me could comprehend. I felt humbled and could not believe that Allah has chosen me to be amongst those who retrace the footsteps of those he chose to spread his message on earth. SubhanAllah.
Just a little something to clarify, do not be fooled into thinking only an element of the compound is Masjid Al-Aqsa the whole compound including Dome of the Rock, Masjid Qibli, Masjid Bhurak and everything in it’s vacinity is all Al-Aqsa.
Look out for my next post I will discuss my time having a tour around the compound and my trip to West Bank.