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‘Holy tours’ helps Israel to normalize its occupation

‘Holy tours’ helps Israel to normalize its occupation

There is an increased trend in visiting Al- Quds (occupied Jerusalem) by Indian Muslims. Earlier this was only seen mostly among Christians while the tendency is recently increased within Muslim as well. Funny part is, most of Christian Churches have identified the mistake in such pilgrimage tourism while on other hand Muslims took over this pilgrimage tourism to occupied Palestine considering as “Holy Journey”.

In such scenario the Muslim world should remember the denouncement of prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi on 2012. He had denounced the visit as haram, unlawful, for normalizing ties with Israel and its military occupation of the Muslim holy city.

Qaradawi’s statement on 2012 was mainly due to the visit of Egypt’s Mufti Sheikh Gomaa. He said, “I did not expect such an eminent person like Sheikh Gomaa to go against this consensus and visit Jerusalem and offer prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Qaradawi, president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), (Published on his website on Friday, April 20.)

“There is a mutual agreement among Muslims and Christians that visiting Al-Quds shall remain prohibited as long as Israel continues to occupy it by force.” Gomaa argued that his visit was “unofficial” and he entered the holy city through Jordan and the West Bank, not from the Israeli side. Jordan’s ministry of Awqaf and Islamic affairs said the visit was in accordance with a command from Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). Qaradawi described the visit to Al-Quds under Israeli occupation as haram (unlawful) according to the Islamic law for cooperating with the occupants. “We must feel as though we are banned from Al-Quds and fight for it until it is ours,” Qaradawi said from Doha, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported. He said that those “who visit legitimize an entity which plunders Palestinian lands, and are forced to cooperate with the enemy’s embassy to receive a visa”. Al-Qaradawi discouraged Muslims against visiting Al-Quds while it is still under Israeli occupation and encouraged all actions for liberation of it and he added “Such visits might also give legitimacy to the occupation and could be seen as normalization,”

Unacceptable Normalization

Uproar surrounding the visit continued as Egypt’s Writers’ Union was reportedly discussing terminating the membership of Gomaa, Al-Ahram official newspaper reported on 2012 Saturday, April 21. Salah Al rawy, member of the union’s Board of Directors said that the union has already prepared a decree to terminate Gomaa’s membership, given that he broke the national consensus on boycotting Israel by all means, which includes a travel ban to Al-Quds while it’s under Israeli occupation. Al rawy said that the union will hold an urgent meeting Monday, 23 April, to take a final decision on the matter. Another statement issued by the Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Gomaa Amin affirmed that Egypt’s Grand Mufti visit to occupied Al-Quds is unacceptable under any norms. “This is totally unacceptable, because Jerusalem is under occupation,” Amin said in a statement to Ikhwan web. “There is an almost unanimous consensus on banning all visits until Jerusalem is free again.” Amin added that Gomaa’s visit harmed the feelings of Egyptian Muslims and Christians as well. “The Grand Mufti has violated the emotional perspective of Muslims,” he said

“Pope Shenouda III had emphasized this ban for our Christian brothers and sisters, against visiting Jerusalem under occupation. So, it certainly is unacceptable for the Mufti to visit the Holy City at this time”.

Al-Quds which includes Islam’s third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Muslim – Israeli conflict. Israel occupied the holy city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions. In 1969, Organization of Islamic Countries was formed with all Muslim countries around the world as members and its prime objective was to extend boycott on Israel by all Arab – Muslim countries.

Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes, promoting illegal settlers and building illegal settlements.

The trend of visiting has increased after normalization of ties between Israel and some Gulf Nations. Those who tour to Bethlehem and Jerusalem are emphasising the Israeli occupation and weakening Al Quds resistance. The resistance group like Hamas and Islamic Jihad strongly condemn such pilgrimage tourism.

Muslims pilgrimaging 5000 km in virtue or seeking reward from Almighty are not thinking that Palestinians from West Bank and Gaza which is next to Al Quds are not allowed for a free prayer and we all have seen many such Israeli atrocities against worshipers through media. They are treated as other in them on country. They should also learn from the lessons taught by Islam’s third righteous caliph Usman bin Affan (Ra) during Hudaibiya treaty. He had completed the opportunity to perform Umrah at Masjid Al Haram while Prophet (PBUH) and fellow Muslims were confined at the border of Makkah by Infidels. But he didn’t even try for such worships which is also a lesson for current so called pilgrims.

Muslim pilgrims should think about why Israel has simplified the entry procedure while earlier it was very hard. They are normalizing and erasing the Palestine resistance from our consciousness. Whole Palestine history is an example of such erasing. In the beginning Palestine issue was a conflict between Israel and Muslim World later downgraded to Arab – Israel Conflict then to Palestine – Israel conflict and now it is further downgraded to Gaza – Israel conflict which is covered in media while Israeli atrocities in west bank are not covered or reported in Media which is considered as normal.

By promoting tourism, Israel is trying to echo that Jerusalem is in safe hands and there is no trouble to anyone who is visiting Jerusalem. Same strategy was taken by Indian fascist regime after revocation of article 370. The tourism to Kashmir is promoted and a clear message is passed “Kashmir is safe”. Itinerary of such tourism is just following the path set by Zionist regime in Jerusalem and Fascist regime in Kashmir.

Pilgrimage tourist should think that the moment they are having official Israeli stamp on their travel document you are recognizing and legitimizing Israel as a Nation and very penny you spend in Jerusalem is used against Quds liberation and genocide Palestinians especially when Israel have killed more than 220 Palestinian in the year 2022 in which 48 are children. 168 are from West bank and East Jerusalem, which is highest after second Intifada, and remaining 53 from Gaza.

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