Jerusalem Diary Part 2

Sharif Ahmed:A delegation from the UK based ‘7th March Foundation’ led by its Chairperson Nooruddin Ahmed on a recent tour, during January/February 2018, to Palestine visited a number places of interest. The delegation comprised of its Secretary Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Organising Secretary Jamal Khan and Research Secretary Sharif Ahmed. Below is a personal account of Sharif Ahmed.

The 7th March Foundation was setup in 2014 in London to tell the incredible story of a momentous and inspirational event in Bangladesh’s history and its principle actor: the historic speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 7 March 1971.

Foundation’s aim is to promote justice, equality, freedom and friendship amongst peoples regardless of race, religion, gender and geographical locations, by highlighting the significance of this historic event and the life and work of its leader: the founding father of the independent and secular People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


East Jerusalem is known as the Old City and is of historical importance. The whole compound is divided into four parts– Muslim Colony, American colony, Jewish Colony and Christian Colony.

I visited Jerusalem at a time of heightened tension due to President Trump’s attempt to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I have never seen so many arms in my lifetime, which I saw in Jerusalem and security checkpoints across the country.

Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem was the first Qibla in Islam and there are hundreds of Hadis based on Jerusalem to explain its importance in Islam. Awf Ibn Malik (R) reports that the Prophet (saw) said, ‘The rest of the world will be destroyed forty years before Al-Sham (Al-Aqsa). According to Islam, the Prophet Mohammad (Peach be upon him) made his night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then to heaven. His journey, known in history as Miraj (Ascension), was a real bodily one and not only a vision. It was at this time that Allah ordered the Muslims to pray the five daily prayers. Anas ibn Malik narrates, ‘The Prophet (saw) was offered a drink of water, milk, then Adam and all the other Prophets were resurrected, and the Messenger of Allah led them (in prayer) that night. Some sources say that they prayed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Islam believes Mohammad (saw) is the last massager of Islam and explained all of the messengers came before him in the Quran. Jews and Christian both also believe Ibrahim (saw) is their Prophet. Coincidently all the three major religion’s historical monuments are in the same compound and they are all attached one to another.

The Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque

I think it would be hard to find people that haven’t seen the images of golden dome because of news coverage since 1948. Some may think the golden dome is the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Actually, the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, but a Muslim shrine. Like the Ka’ba in Makkah, it is built over a sacred stone. This stone is believed to be the place from which the Prophet Mohammad ascended into heaven during his Night Journey to heaven. Currently, the Jordanian government looks after this mosque and only Muslims are allowed to enter due to security reasons.

Western Wall and Mount of Olive

The Wailing Wall is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Wailing Wall is considered holy place due to its connection to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray. The Mount of Olive is a very old cemetery for the Jewish people and many notable Jewish across the globe are buried there. Several key events based on both of Christian and Jewish religion are associated with Mount of Olive and it is situated next to Al-Aqsa mosque. It is also believed according to some Muslim scholars that sura ‘At-tin’ is associated with the Mount of Olive.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Christians believe Jesus Christ was buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and pilgrims do lots of ritual which refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers.

I also had the opportunity to visit Palestinian territories including West Bank, Hebron, Bethlehem Jericho, Ramallah and Jaffa.


I mainly visited Hebron to see Hazrat Ibrahim (saw) mosque where most of the family members is believed to be buried. Hebron (Al-Khalil) in Arabic, literally means ‘The Friend’, and refers to the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), who Muslims describe as the friend of God and the father of the Prophets Ishmael and Isaac (peace be upon them).  Hebron is sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians and is considered one of the most important and oldest cities in Palestine’s history dating back more than 6000 years.

On 25 February 1994, a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein walked into the Ibrahimi Mosque armed with an assault rifle and murdered dozens of Palestinians. The massacre happened during the holy month of Ramadan. Palestinians remember and commemorate this day after 29 Palestinian worshippers were murdered along with hundreds being injured. Since then the mosque has been divided into two parts and shared by both Muslim and Jews. Israeli authority also installed tight security in entering and leaving the mosque. I had also visited Hebron glass factory and some of their beautiful handmade ceramic shops. Hebron glass is traditionally produced using sand from the village of Bani Na’im, east of Hebron, and sodium carbonate taken from the Dead Sea.


Bethlehem is a Palestinian city located in the central West bank. The Church of the Nativity is one of Bethlehem’s major tourist attractions and a magnet for Christian pilgrims because they believe this is the place where Jesus was born and lots of other memories associated with his birth are depicted there.  Also, tourist visit Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel which the artist described as having “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, exists both as a living art institution but also an informative museum space that explains the turbulent history of the region.  The Israeli authority built a wall along West Bank, a length of 708 kilometers during the second intifada that began in September 2000. This wall isolated 25,000 Palestinian from the bulk of that territory.


Jericho is believed the oldest town (10,000 years) and lowest ground (250m below sea level) on earth. This is also very popular tourist attraction for the Christian and Muslim travellers. Tourists mainly visit Jericho to see the Mount of Temptation which is situated on the hill in the Judean Desert where Jesus was tempted by the devil. The exact location is unknown and impossible to determine. It is generally identified with Mount Quarantania. This mountain has a total height of 1201 feet and currently cable cars are available for the tourist to reach peak of the mountain. If you have opportunity to visit Jericho, then don’t forget to visit the Mount of Temptation restaurant and Jericho’s panoramic view from its rooftop. I also visited Nabi Musa (saw) Mosque. The building consists of a large central courtyard surrounded by over 120 rooms with the ‘burial chamber’ of Prophet Musa on the right of the mosque which is built against the western wall of the courtyard. Please note the exact place where Prophet Musa (upon him be peace) is buried is unknown but tradition holds that Salahuddin Ayyubi once had a dream where he was shown this spot. He had a mosque built on the site which was further expanded by Sultan Baybars in 1269 CE. Jericho’s date and Pomegranate fruits are also a must during your trip.


Ramallah is the capital of Palestine.  I had the opportunity to visit the capital during one evening to see the vibrant and colourful life. People were busy shopping, chit chatting in the restaurants and having shisha with green tea. At one point I felt I was in a part of our old Dhaka in Bangladesh. I also visited the great leader Yasser Arafat’s compound where he is buried temporarily with the hope that one day his grave will be moved to the Jerusalem when it comes under Palestine authority.


On my way back to England I also visited Tel Aviv to see the difference between Israel and Palestine capitals. Tel Aviv’s high-rise buildings, modern highways and people’s lifestyle are complete contrast to the Palestine’s capital Ramallah.  Jaffa is the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv-Yafo, an ancient port city in Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical stories of JonahSolomon and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus, and later with oranges. Jaffa now is mainly Muslim dominated area and very vibrant. I visited some famous mosques including Hassan Bek Mosque, Al Bahr Mosque and the Mahmoudiya Mosque.