Growing up in a non-Muslim country, I did not hear much about the sacred Aqsa Mosque from my parents. Like others, they focused on raising my siblings and I on becoming familiar with the five pillars of Islam.
Much effort was put into teaching us the significance of worships including the daily prayers and fasting. We also were educated on hajj.
However, it was not until I became interested in unicorns, Falkor the Luck Dragon in the Never Ending Story and horses with wings that my father told me of our sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque. I told him of how fast Falkor flew which prompted my father to introduce the story.
The Winged Horse
As I sat mesmerized, my father told me as simply as possible that one night the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was taken on a journey by angel Gabriel on a white heavenly horse named Al-Buraq.
He was taken from the holy mosque in Makkah to the holy Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, he ascended to Heaven and talked to Allah in a long detailed story.
Being the questioner I was I focused on two details: the winged horse and the mosque, which was visited. “Tell me about it,” I asked my father.
The Aqsa Mosque to the Ummah is as precious as the sacred Kabah in Makkah, he told me. After all, it was the first of the Qiblahs, which we face when we pray and the second house of Allah built on earth.
Know the Aqsa Mosque
Many years later I relayed the same story about the Aqsa Mosque to my children who in turn will relay it to theirs.
I told them, just as my late father told me, that it was the only place on earth where all the Messengers of Allah prayed at the same time led by Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all). Many Messengers of Allah and Companions lived in Al-Quds, the city of the Aqsa mosque.
News about the Aqsa and the cancelling of the Friday prayers weeks ago were hot topics in the media. The mosque has been the subject of much debate and unrest.
While this is not a political piece, it is significant we familiarize ourselves and our children with the history of this great mosque.
Our children will learn about Makkah and Madinah, as they are the birthplaces of Islam. They feature often in Muslim life. Let them also know the Aqsa Mosque and the significant status assigned to it in Islam.
The Plight of the Aqsa
Islam builds within us a mentality of being concerned for the affairs of others who find themselves in difficultly. Here, we instill in our children the love of the mosque. Let them know why we love it, what it means to the Ummah.
Create awareness. You wont feel for the plight of the Aqsa if you do not know where it is, what it is, what it represents.
Teach your children about the rights of Palestinians to their own land. Talk to them about justice and peace that Muslims had established in this area.
Recount to them the stories of Muslims who liberated the Aqsa Mosque from the Crusaders. Tell them about Saladin who so noble and merciful that he allowed defeated crusaders to evacuate Jerusalem peacefully with their belongings and families.
With knowledge comes awareness. With awareness comes love. And with love comes the motivation to come to the aid of those defending the Aqsa Mosque. If not in deed then at least with speech.
The next time you have a family night, how about chatting about the mosque. Open discussions create an excitement around the Aqsa Moqsue.
Make the family more aware of the plight of others.
Many years later, I still remember the excitement in my late father’s eyes as he spoke to me about the beautiful Aqsa.
I remember how I reflected on his words. Maybe then, the winged horse was what caught my attention the most. What I took away from it was this beautiful hadith relayed by Anas Ibn Malik:
The prayer prayed in the Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) is akin to one hundred thousand prayers, and the prayer in my mosque is akin to one thousand prayers and the prayer in Bait al-Maqdis (the Aqsa Mosque) is akin to five hundred prayers.
I pray that I was able to instill in my children the love of the Aqsa Mosque. I hope when they narrate the story to their children it will already have been restored to the Muslims with no more clashes, no more sadness and no more loss of lives.