AL-QUDS – The Muslims’ third holiest shrine has seen about 100 people from 17 western countries reverting to Islam over the past two years, with many choosing the holy site to embrace Islam.
“Ninety-seven people of 17 western nationalities have announced their voluntary conversion to Islam by repeating the Shahada [at the Al-Aqsa],” the mosque imam Sheikh Ekrima Said Sabri, a former grand mufti of Al-Quds (Occupied Jerusalem), said in a statement issued this week, World Bulletin reported on Wednesday, January 4.
Sheikh Sabri added that most of the westerners to have recently converted at the mosque hailed from the US, France, Germany, Britain and Finland.
“Islam is the religion of justice and tolerance,” Sheikh Sabri declared.
“It is a comprehensive religion; the distillation of all previous divine messages.”
He added that, according to Qur’an, conversions had to be done on a strictly voluntary basis.
“As God Almighty says: ‘There shall be no compulsion in [the acceptance of] the faith,” Sheikh Sabri, who is also head of Jerusalem’s Supreme Islamic Council, asserted, citing the holy book.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world visit the iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located in Israeli-occupied Al-Quds city.
Al-Aqsa is the Muslims’ first Qiblah [direction Muslims take during prayers] and it is the third holiest shrine after Al Ka`bah in Makkah and Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
Its significance has been reinforced by the incident of Al Isra’a and Al Mi’raj — the night journey from Makkah to Al-Quds and the ascent to the Heavens by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him).
Israel occupied the holy city and the West Bank in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.