Why should I perform I'tikaaf at Masjid al Aqsa?
Masjid al Aqsa should be considered for I’tikaaf due to the lofty status it occupies among Masaajid and the great opportunities it presents for spiritual upliftment and gaining closeness to Allah SWT. Sayyidina Abu Hurairah RA narrates: “The Messenger of Allah SAW said: ‘Do not deliberately set out on a journey[for the purpose of worship] but to three mosques: the Masjid al Haram[in Makkah], al Masjid al Aqsa[in Jerusalem], and my Masjid[in Madinah]’”(Bukhari) READ our special post: 12 Reasons Why You Should Consider I’tikaaf at Masjid al Aqsa HERE
How can I join?
Becoming part of the Itikaaf at Masjid al Aqsa experience is simple and straightforward. Book your package with a preferred travel operator or even arrange the trip yourself. Once you get to Masjid al Aqsa you become part of the wider group of Mu’takifeen which will then operate together as a group. We would be glad to have you on board
Where do we start the process?
Make a sincere intention. It is imperative to decide whether you will perform Sunnah or Nafl I’tikaaf. Once this is clarified, you can arrange the remainder of the travel arrangements around this decision, either on your own, or via a travel operator
Will members of the aqsa.co.za committee be present in the Holy Lands?
Yes, Insha Allah. Members will be present at Masjid al Aqsa to render assistance and guidance to the Mu’takifeen. Depending on alignment of flights, members could also be present to render assistance to Itikaaf travellers on departure and arrival at border crossings. Representatives of your chosen travel operator should also be on hand during departure and arrival to handle logistical matters beyond the scope of the committee
When should we depart to get to Masjid al Aqsa on time for Itikaaf?
This depends on whether you choose to enter Israel via the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, or via Jordan, through the Allenby Crossing. If traveling through Jordan, we would recommend departing from home at least 3 days prior to the start of I’tikaaf. This should facilitate sufficient time to do Ziyarah in Jordan, cross the border, as well as spend a night at a hotel in Jerusalem to assist in acclimatizing and orienting oneself prior to commencing I’tikaaf. Under normal circumstances, you should consider that it could take approximately 1 hour to travel from Queen Rania International Airport in Amman to the Allenby Border crossing; time spent at the crossing varies from a few minutes to a few hours; thereafter one has to budget approximately an hour to get from the border to Jerusalem. Similar timings should be borne in mind for the return trip.
Should you enter Israel through the Ben Gurion Airport, the journey, after claiming baggage, to Jerusalem can also take upto one hour using taxis, buses or public transport.
Where will we sleep?
If you are performing Sunnah I’tikaaf, you will sleep in a specially demarcated section of the Marwani Musallah at Masjid al Aqsa.
Will there be personnel available to run errands or fetch clothing/other supplies needed from hotel whilst I am in I’tikaaf?
It should be borne in mind that the needs of every Mu’takif cannot be catered for all at the same time. On commencement of I’tikaaf, Mu’takifeen will be divided into smaller groups to facilitate logistics and arrange for their needs amongst themselves. Representatives of each of these groups will convey any needs to the committee which will then see to how best these can be accommodated. ‘Runners’ i.e. volunteers drawn from those not performing Sunnah I’tikaaf may fulfil this role.
Which are some important places for Ziyarah?
Once settled in Jerusalem, you should do a tour of the Old City as well as the compound of Masjid al Aqsa. Thereafter, you may visit locations such as al Khalil(Hebron), Jericho and Bethlehem. The graves of Sahabah and Maqams of various Ambiyaa can also be visited.
Will Iftaar be catered for?
Generally, these arrangements are made by travel operators. Iftaar is served inside Masjid al Aqsa, during the very limited time period between Maghrib and Isha. It should be borne in mind that the Marwani Musalla, which will be your station for I’tikaaf, is closed daily between Asr-after Isha. Hence, you should carry any additional snacks or items you may require in a backpack with you during this period, to avoid being left stranded.
What are the approximate times for Salaah at Masjid al Aqsa for this Ramadan?
Fajr: 4.30am Zuhr: 12.30pm Asr 4.30pm Maghrib 7.45pm Isha 8.30pm (thereafter Taraweeh)
Are toilet, ablution and shower facilities available inside the Masjid compound?
Yes. You can perform wudhu easily at various points inside the compound. For toilets and showers, you have to proceed to a special section attached to the compound through the Ablution Gate. There are also some toilets situated inside the compound, behind the Dome of the Rock. Due to the vastness of the compound and the possibility of crowding, you should proceed to toilets/showers as early as possible prior to Salaah. It should be noted that you should not shower without need whilst performing Sunnah I’tikaaf.Spoiler content
What will the weather be like this Ramadan?
At this time of the year, al Aqsa will generally be hot, however not unbearable. Since the base for I’tikaaf, the Marwani Musallah, is underground, this area will is usually much cooler.
How will I occupy myself during I'tikaaf?
You should engage in the variety of Ibadaat one can perform whilst in I’tikaaf. Spiritual guidance and structured programmes will be facilitated by the Ulama members of the trip. At the same time, a degree of personal discipline and goal-setting is required to ensure time in I’tikaaf is spent correctly
Will there be Ulama present?
Yes. A number of Ulama will be present to offer spiritual guidance, answer questions and conduct daily programmes for the Mu’takifeen.
Is it safe to perform I’tikaaf at Masjid al Aqsa?
Yes. Sitting for I’tikaaf at Masjid al Aqsa is akin to being secluded in a haven of peace and spirituality. The purpose of the trip is spiritual, and you should not embroil yourself in any skirmishes that may occur.
Will I be able to get a local sim card?
Yes. These are easily available in Jerusalem.
Can I recharge my phone whilst in I’tikaaf?
Yes. There are plug points available in the I’tikaaf area. However, charging generally takes longer than usual here. You should also exercise caution to remain close by to the phone whilst it is charging to lessen the likelihood of theft.
Would I need any additional money whilst in I’tikaaf?
You could keep some money – a suggested amount of 100 shekels – with you, to cater for any occasional or unforeseen expenses.
Can I take photos at Masjid al Aqsa?
Yes, this is possible. One should however not take photos during the journey of soldiers or guards at border crossings and entrances
Is it necessary to carry one’s passport at all times?
Yes. You should carry your passport with you, as you may be requested to present it by guards at the entrance to Masjid al Aqsa. On entering Israel, you will be given a travel ‘coupon’ that will be stamped, instead of the passport. Staple this into your passport once you reach your accommodation, to avoid it getting lost.
Can women sit for I’tikaaf at al Aqsa?
Yes. Usually, the Dome of the Rock is reserved for females for large parts of the last ten days of Ramadan. Females may spend entire evenings there and depart back to their accommodation in the early morning. However, due to logistics, it is generally easier for females to sit for Nafl rather than Sunnah I’tikaaf. It is imperative that females be accompanied by their Mahrams on the journey.
Would it be possible to return in time to spend Eid at home?
This is hardly likely if you are performing Sunnah I’tikaaf. It, however, may sometimes be possible if there is a variance in moonsighting. If you are performing Nafl I’tikaaf, this can be easily arranged.