A detailed guidebook of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif has been published in several languages both in print and online to debunk Israeli narratives that seek to divide the mosque.
Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the founder and director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) and the guide’s main author, told Arab News that the book is the updated version of a 2015 guidebook issued in Arabic, English and Turkish. Abdul Hadi said that the guide was a response to continuous Israeli attempts to falsify facts. “They have repeatedly tried to create a new reality on the ground and tried to take over the Bab Al-Rahmeh, and we wanted to show that the entire 144-dunum (144,000 square meter) mosque area is holy to Muslims.”
Abdul Hadi said that the guidebook responds to attempts by Israel in the recent normalization agreements to differentiate between Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the gated Haram area.
“We have documented 136 different holy places in the Haram we wanted everyone local and foreign, including our Arab brothers, to know about it,” he said.
Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab, Head of the Islamic Waqf Council in Jerusalem, said that the new guidebook is an important addition to the rich set of publications about this important Islamic site.
“This is an updated and well-researched book with many more details about the various locations and holy places that make up Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif. We aim to distribute it widely and hope that the Hashemite Fund will distribute it in schools and universities so that students and teachers are aware of the mosque and its various locations,” he said.
Salhab pointed out that even Palestinians living nearby would benefit from this book. “We hope that newspapers can use it to highlight different locations so that young Palestinians who are unable to reach the mosque are aware of its many locations and its importance to Muslims.”
Sheikh Azzam Khatib, the director of the Waqf Department in Jerusalem, said that there are 136 Islamic shrines in the 144-dunum area, including Al-Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Marwani and Bab Al-Rahmeh mosques. “For each location, it describes who built it and what it provides for the mosque and for worshipers.”
Khatib said that the guidebook will be distributed to local and international bodies of interest, including research centers, diplomats, educational institutions and everyone who visits the mosque.”
Wasfi Kailani, the executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, said that the book was conceived in 2012 in response to radicals’ narratives about the mosque, guided by the need to support Muslims visiting the mosque. He said that the Hashemite restoration fund provided financial support for a large number of researchers to work on it.
“This guidebook is important for Muslim pilgrims and non-Muslim visitors,” Kailani said. “It provides an easy-to-follow route that combines both the spiritual and the educational. I don’t think there is an Islamic site in the world that has as detailed a documentation of its history as Al-Aqsa.”