Saturday, December 16, 2017

Temple Mount, April 1948

Solomonia excerpted this retelling of the funeral of Abd-el Khader El-Husseini, killed by the Hagana at the Qastel on April 8, 1948, which took place at the Temple Mount from John Roy Carlson's 1951 work, Cairo to Damascus and I selected this section:

...Husseini's coffin, covered with a red, black, and green flag, was carried to the square below the Dome of the Rock, where Arab chiefs spoke their eulogies. All this took place within sight of the Wailing Wall...

...I was now before the entrance to the Dome of the Rock, one of Islam's holiest shrines. Standing near by was a short, plump, round-faced man with a magnificent spade-shaped white beard and an enormous white turban, who was the custodian, Sheikh Ismail el Ansary...

...Historically the rock was actually a jagged slice of Mount Moriah, the hill on which Abraham offered to sacrifice Isaac. The Jews prayed on it long before the Moslem dome covered it.

Solomon built his magnificent Temple here and housed in it the Jewish holy of holies, the Ark of the Covenant. The entire area of the mosque, and the spacious stone courtyard surrounding it, were built on the site of the ancient Israel courts, where Christ preached and drove away the money-changers. Hardly a square inch here was without some direct connection to ancient Hebraic or Christian history.

None of these Hebraic-Christian origins, however, could be mentioned to Sheikh Ansary...

...After I had gained his confidence, El Ansary proved unusually outspoken. "Look here" -- these were the only English words he knew -- "whenever I pray, I pray to Allah to destroy the Jews. I pray to Allah to punish President Truman because he has been on the Zionist side. I used to pray against President Roosevelt, a very bad man. Now I pray to Allah that he destroy Mrs. Roosevelt because she is behaving very badly toward the Arabs."

"You sound like a Moslem Republican," I said.

"Look here, I pray against them for different reasons. Against Balfour and his family I pray that Allah confine them all to hell. The English are like sarratan [cancer]. May Balfour and Roosevelt take first place in hell. Allah, Allah, may this be done."

Propriety demanded that I say: "Insh'allah."

Despite his sixty-eight years, the man was as vigorous as an ox. "Look here, I will fight for Palestine to the last minute of my life," he said, with eyes blazing. "No Moslem is afraid of death. If he dies for Palestine that is a satisfying way to die. His parents are happy he fell in the Jehad. If we cannot win any other way, all the sheikhs in all the mosques in all the Arab countries over all the world will climb the minarets, and call on every Moslem to join the Jehad against the Jew in Palestine."

I turned the conversation to the Mufti.

"Look here," said El Ansary, "he is of the same blood as Mohammed. He is respected for his many good deeds. I pray for the Mufti in all my prayers to Allah."

I thanked Sheikh el Ansary for his courtesy and according to decorum, wished him long life and the blessings of Allah on him, his family, and his heirs. Bowing, I salaamed by placing my fingertips first to my heart, then to my lips, my forehead. He did the same in token of his respect toward me. "I shall remember you in my prayers to Allah," he said.


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