MEPI 2010 Aqsa Mosque
40th Middle East Peace Initiative, August 20-24, 2010

Theme of the Conference: Interfaith, the United Nations and Peace in the 21st Century. Middle East Peace Initiative by the Universal Peace Federation, an organization of Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon. www.UPF.Org

This initiative is yielding results, a former Israeli Senator, Christian Member of the Palestinian Authority and 4 times elected Jerusalem Councilman delivered hopeful messages. It was a blessing to see the Palestinians and Israelis come together and talk about finding lasting solutions. A small portion of the divisive wall has come down and each one asserted that 70% of the Israeli and Palestinian populations want peace; together we all need to galvanize efforts to give momentum to peace.

Prayers for politicians – I suggest that every politician in Israeli and Palestinian governments be asked to start their day by looking in to the eyes of the Palestinian and Israeli children and ask themselves, what kind of future they want to give to these kids? Should the future generation call them criminals for not giving hope and security to these children? Should the public measure the success of the politicians on the scale of what they create or what they destroy? It is time for the public to take responsibility and dump those who do not improve their lot. Each people have to remember that one cannot have peace if the others do not have it.

Special notes:

This was a personal trip to Al-Aqsa Mosque with 8 of us. We had suhoor (pre-dawn meals) at the Aziz Bukhari’s house, great great great son of Imam Bukhari, the compiler of the (Hadith) sayings of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Starting from Imam Aziz Bukhari's house Via Dolorasa, where Jesus had walked for the last time we went to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Odd experience, at the Lions gate to the complex,the Israeli guard asked me to prove that I was a Muslim, I had to recite Sura Fateha, then he asked me to recite Sura (chapter) Ikhlas. After asking a lot of questions he was ready to let me go forward. Then I heard a gun shot... reflexively I asked him what was that? He looked at me and questioned, “are you a Muslim?” I blurted out that I am. He asked again, “and you don't know what that was?” I said I don't. Some more questioning went on. He and I then had a laugh with a Palestinian guard... the shot marks the end of Suhoor time, which I am not familiar with as it is not the custom or culture where I am from.

By the way, the restrictions for Non-Muslims to enter the Mosque complex came about after a Jewish radical settler walked in to the Mosque and opened fire and killed 22 worshippers.

Dawood Asad told me not to take the pictures, but I was taking them any way while I was taking the pictures, someone tapped on my shoulders and looked in my eyers, pictures? Then he stretched his hand towards the camera... OMG, old memories came alive, I had taken pictures inside Masjid-Nabwi (Madinah) in 1978-79 and the guy next to me was taking too... but his camera was taken and the roll was exposed... anyway, I told him that I am writing the story of my trip... he looked puzzled. I gave the camera and asked him to take my picture... he looked at me as if I am crazy, he hesitated, and took two pictures, he even laid down on the floor and took the picture to get the dome and me in the pictures.

I could not have imagined doing the oddest thing. Prayed two units of Nafeel (personal) prayers for King Saud, I remember his dream to pray in this Mosque had not come true, I have no idea why I did for this man and I hope his soul feels in peace.

Between the Sunna (optional) and Fard (obligatory) prayers, thank God I had the chance to say prayers of peace for Palestinians and Israelis, people of Darfur, the Flood victims in Pakistan and the people who are suffering everywhere on this planet. The prayer asks for God’s blessings for the ones who are live and for the dead, parents, family members and the world. I prayed for my sister who was not feeling well, each one of my family members and friends, and in general the people I know including my face book friends and my friends on my mailing lists and groups. I was able to picture so many people in between. I pray again for every one's well being.
There is one aspect of Qur’aan that I love; the pluralistic language of it. If it talks about life it comes with the word death, if it is sky, earth is the next word, if it is poor, rich is hyphenated and if it is the responsibility of men, it gives equal weight to the responsibility of women and towards each other.

The whole trip was indeed peaceful.
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