The head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Mehmet Görmez, on Friday marked one of the holiest nights in Islam, Mi'raj, in one of the three holiest cities of Islam, Jerusalem.
Mi'raj denotes both the physical and spiritual night journey the Prophet Muhammad undertook when Archangel Gabriel took him from Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem before he went to heaven where he spoke to God and received instructions regarding the details of prayer to transmit to the faithful. The anniversary of the night journey is marked by all Muslims and considered to be one of the most important dates on the Islamic calendar.
Görmez said this was the first time he had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem and added "the fact that the greatest center of tawhid (oneness of the Almighty) is a captive in the hands of foreigners is a wound in the heart of every Muslim. It is because of this wound that we have been unable to come here."
Saying he went on this trip upon the insistent invitations from Palestinians, Görmez said that the Prophet had visited Jerusalem in his "year of sadness" and added "our beloved Prophet had lost his uncle. Then he lost his beloved wife Hazrat Hatice. He had been stoned at Taif. I wish from the Almighty that all these sadness to be completely be erased from all the Muslim geographies. It is impossible not to be moved on these lands."
Saying the Al Aqsa Mosque has a special place in the hearts of every Muslim believer President of Diyanet Görmez said "we, the Muslims of Turkey, turn towards the Kaaba to pray and it happens that Al Aqsa mosque is also in that direction. That is why the Al Aqsa Mosque has a very special place in our hearts."
Reminded by journalists that the Al Aqsa Mosque has been under occupation since the day the Ottomans withdrew from Palestine Görmez said, "It is impossible for the Muslims to free themselves in every aspect as long as they do not ascend to Mi'raj in their own spiritual world. First we have to liberate our hearts and souls. First we have to liberate our minds and our thoughts. Then all other freedoms will come on their own. As long as Muslims do not show compassion and mercy towards each other they cannot liberate their own spiritual world. As long as Muslims are taken hostage by bad feelings like anger, hatred, grudge, as long as Muslims approach each other with enmity, as long as they do not show compassion and affection to each other they cannot liberate their own spiritual world. Those who cannot liberate their hearts and souls cannot liberate their own geographies. May the Almighty provide us with both freedoms."
Görmez arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday and first Al-Aqsa Mosque before leading evening prayers. Reporters accompanying him said that Turkey's top religious official could not prevent himself from shedding tears while leading the prayers. He then attended a dinner hosted by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) before visiting the Dome of the Rock.
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