Musharaf Ahmed, Muavin Sadr MKA
From 8 to 14 June 2019, 38 Waqifeen-e-Nau from various parts of the UK partook in a trip to the symbolic and historic land of Palestine and Israel. The purpose of this trip was to enable Waqifeen-e-Nau brothers to foster strong relationships with one another, as well as recognise the importance of the Waqf-e-Nau scheme and further develop their religious and historical knowledge.
The group travelled from London, Luton airport and arrived in Tel Aviv at approximately 9pm local time. From there, Waqifeen travelled by coach to the current headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the Middle East, Mahmood Mosque in Kababir, Haifa, where they stayed for the duration of their trip. They were received with a warm welcome and treated to excellent hospitality and care by the Kababir Jamaat that would remain as such till their final day.
Here, I would like to mention that Haifa was also visited by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, Khalifatul Masih II, when he visited Europe in 1924.
The first day consisted of a packed itinerary in Haifa. It began with a visit to one of the most popular destinations in Israel, the Bahai gardens. Next, the group visited the historical Al Istiqlal Mosque, the oldest Mosque in Haifa. The group were able to offer nawafil there and feelings of admiration for architectural significance of the site was felt.
The home of Prophet Elijahas, in the steep hills of Mount Carmel, was the next destination for the group. This location is also believed to be where he once travelled to contest the claims of some certain false prophets during the time of his own prophethood. The group had the chance to stop here and also received a welcome address by Sadr Sahib Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Palestine and later tucked in to a fantastic barbecue that had been arranged by the local Khuddam. The day ended with a sitting with Amir Sahib Kababir at Mahmood Mosque. Ameer Sahib covered a number of topics during his talk, including a fascinating and inspirational account of Huzoor’saa election as Khalifatul Masih V, which, being a member of the election committee, he was able to witness first-hand.
Day two was relatively relaxed in comparison. First, the Waqifeen-e-Nau spent a couple of hours near Carmel Beach. Here, they enjoyed soaking in the sun and participating in activities such as water volleyball in the Mediterranean Sea and beach football. Prior to departure, everyone took their chance to grab a customary ice-cream, as of course, a trip to the beach can never feel complete without it!
Upon returning to the mosque, the group offered Zuhr prayers followed by a sitting with the missionary of Kababir for a discussion on the historical significance of the sites that they were to visit in the coming days. In the evening, Waqifeen-e-Nau participated in an indoor football competition that the Kababir Jamaat had specifically organised for them.
After Tahajud and Fajr prayers and breakfast on day three, the Waqf-e-Nau prepared for their first trip to the West Bank, Palestine, accompanied by Amir Sahib. Following a three-hour journey south, their first stop was at the home of a recent Ahmadi convert where they were invited for breakfast before continuing on to Hebron. Here, they visited a mosque which houses the tombs of Hazrat Abrahamas, his wife Hazrat Sarahas, their son Hazrat Isaacas and his wife Hazrat Rebeccaas. This was followed by a visit to the tomb of Hazrat Jonahas shortly after, located in the nearby Nabi Younus Mosque.
The next stop was Bethlehem where Waqifeen visited the Church of the Nativity. A holy site for Christians, the church gets its significance for being built over a cave which is commonly believed to be the location where Hazrat Maryas gave birth to Hazrat Jesusas and as such, is a place of great importance to Christians (and indeed those of other faiths) all over the world.
After departing from Bethlehem, the Waqifeen-e-Nau embarked on a journey to what was perhaps the most significant destination of the trip to the land of the Prophets, the holy city of Jerusalem. A place of great significance to adherents of the main Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – Waqifeen-e-Nau first visited the Dome of the Rock. After offering Zuhr and Asr prayers here, the group moved on to see the even more historic Al Aqsa Mosque which is situated in the same vicinity. Nearby, the Waqf-e-Nau also had an opportunity to view a site of religious significance to the Jews, the Wailing Wall. They also visited the site of where Hazrat Jesusas was put on the cross. The group was also able to take in the famous atmosphere of the old city as they walked through the narrow-cobbled streets of Jerusalem and saw the old town markets brimming with merchants selling their products and food vendors with enticing displays of different and colourful cuisines.
On the fourth day, Waqifeen returned to the West Bank accompanied by the missionary. This time they travelled along the Jordan border headed for the lowest point on Earth, the famous Dead Sea. On the way, the group stopped off at a few other interesting destinations such as the site on the Jordan River where Hazrat Jesusas is alleged to have been the recipient of the first baptism by John the Baptist. The group was able to see not only the significance of this sight but also the practice of the Christians to immerse themselves within the river as tribute to what happened there many centuries ago. They then travelled to the city of Jericho, which is recognised as being the oldest continuous inhabited settlement and dates back more than 10,000 years, and also the Nabi Musa Mosque. Following arrival at Kalia Beach, Dead Sea, Waqifeen-e-Nau had lunch and then enjoyed a couple of hours floating in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea and masking themselves in the mineral rich soil found on the seabed before their journey back to Kababir.
Day five was the final day of sightseeing, though no less busy. Waqifeen-e-Nau visited a variety of locations which included; the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth, where Hazrat Maryas received the revelation from God regarding Hazrat Jesusas; Tiberias, where many Christians believe Jesusas performed the miracle of walking on water. Additionally, Waqifeen-e-Nau also had the opportunity to visit a bee farm owned by an Ahmadi brother in the beautiful area of the Golan Heights. The farm, hidden deep within the towering mountains that border Palestine and Syria and shadowed by the Sea of Galilee was a place where they gained a wealth of knowledge on the lives, and importance of bees and how they can relate this to their everyday life and the work they do for the Jamaat. The honey bee taught them the beautiful lesson of obedience to Khilafat. They also had an opportunity to purchase a variety of authentic honey products. Finally, before departing for Kababir for the last time, the group made a visit to the coastal town of Akko, famous for its coastal beauty, its links to countless civilisations of the world and its crushing victory against the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.
On the last day of the trip, as it was a Friday, the group offered the Jumuah prayer and listened to Huzoor’saa sermon which was broadcast live from the UK.
This was followed by a delicious lunch that served roast chicken, a group picture with Amir Sahib and a last chance for Waqifeen to exchange farewells with the Kababir Jamaat and thank them for their truly amazing and tireless hospitality and care.
Waqifeen-e-Nau departed from Tel Aviv for Luton at approximately 11pm on 14 June 2019 and arrived at Islamabad, Tilford at Fajr time. This marked the end of a most exceptional, historic and inspirational trip, Alhamdollilah.