Israeli actions threaten Islamic holy site
(PHILADELPHIA, P.A., 2/23/07) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on North American Muslims and other people of conscience to help protect religious sites in Jerusalem reportedly threatened by an Israeli archeological dig near Al-Aqsa Mosque. North American imams are also being asked to discuss the importance of Jerusalem to Muslims in their khutbas (sermons) this Friday.
Palestinians say the Israeli dig could damage Al-Aqsa’s foundations and is another attempt by Israel to change the religious character of the holy city. Suspicion over Israeli intentions grew when Israeli officials revealed recently that they had hidden the 2004 discovery of an Islamic prayer area at the dig site.
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED:
1. NORTH AMERICAN IMAMS should discuss Jerusalem’s importance to Islam and Muslims in their khutbas.
Points to include in khutbas:
* American Muslims have a particular duty to help protect Al-Aqsa mosque because of our nation’s one-sided support for the state of Israel. That uncritical support violates America’s long-standing traditions of promoting justice and respect for human rights.
* Despite international agreements, Israeli authorities have over the years used home demolitions, settlement building, land confiscation, withholding of building permits, and daily humiliations, all designed to change the religious character of the city.
* Historically, periods of religious tolerance brought by Muslim rule witnessed an increase in Jewish population in Jerusalem. The first followed the Muslim conquest of the city in the 7th century, the second came after the Muslim recapture of the city from Crusaders in 1187 and the third period came after the occupation of the city by the Ottoman Turks in 1516.
* Muslims are proud of the story of the Caliph Umar who received the keys to Jerusalem from the Christian patriarch Sophronius in the 7th century. When the Caliph was asked to pray in a Jerusalem church, he refused saying he did not to want provide a pretext for Muslims to appropriate a Christian holy site.
* Jerusalem is mentioned in the Quran and in Islamic traditions. One hadith states that prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque are multiplied 500 times. Another hadith states: “Once I asked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) what was the first mosque established on earth; he said Al-Masjid Al-Haram (in Mecca). Then I asked him: Then which mosque? He replied: Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.”
* The Quran states: “Glorified be He (God) who took his servant (Muhammad) for a journey by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), whose precincts we have blessed.” (17:1) The night journey referred to in this verse is that of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from the rock now located in the Dome of the Rock, to heaven. This event, known as “al-Isra wa al-Miraj,” is marked each year by more than one billion Muslims worldwide.
* Jerusalem was also Islam’s first “Qibla,” or direction to which Muslims turned in prayer. Even the walls of the today’s “Old City” were built by Muslims.
* Throughout centuries of Islamic rule, the holy sites of Judaism and Christianity were never permanently altered, as they could have been had the desire to seize or destroy been present. Today, Israel routinely bars Muslim and Christian Palestinians from religious sites in Jerusalem. The Christian population of the city drops daily.
2. CONTACT President Bush to request that his administration pressure Israel to respect the religious rights of all faiths in Jerusalem and to refrain from any action that threatens Al-Aqsa mosque.
CONTACT: President George W. Bush, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20500 Comments: 202-456-1111 Fax: 202-456-2461 E-Mail: email@example.com
Sample Letter: Dear Mr. President – I respectfully request that you stand up for America’s tradition of respect for religious rights by clearly informing the government of Israel that the United States is opposed to any actions that harm the religious rights of any faith in the holy city of Jerusalem. Current Israeli archeological excavations in Jerusalem threaten the foundations of Al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Unfortunately, your administration’s silence on this issue will be interpreted as acceptance of Israel’s actions.
3. CONTACT your own elected representatives.
4. CONTACT Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
CONTACT: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, Tel: 202-647-4000, E-Mail: http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php
5. SEND COPIES of all correspondence to CAIR at: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 202-488-0833