15 June 2021

The recent Israeli attack on worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque attracted major international attention and condemnation. The resultant military offensive on the largely civilian population in the Gaza Strip killed 250 Palestinians, including women and children, and destroyed homes and infrastructure.

Such was the revulsion at the violence inflicted by Israel on civilians that we have witnessed a “tidal change in sentiment” which amplified calls for accountability for the occupation state. The offensive also stimulated a deeper sense of inquiry into the past, present and future of Palestine and a rediscovery of the centrality of Al-Aqṣā Mosque.

The publication of Masjid al-Aqṣā: A Journey Through Time, is thus very timely. The debut book by researcher and journalist Hafiz Ebrahim Moosa is a major contribution to the discourse on Palestine. To be launched on June 15, the book is a meticulously researched chronological history of the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqṣā.

In more than 200 pages, the full colour book has a bold, compact and highly accessible design. Readers are given a holistic picture of the rich history of Masjid al-Aqṣā across periods of decline and revival. The author describes the book as a labour of love.

“It is the outcome of a personal journey of inquiry into Masjid al-Aqṣā that has been deeply moving and fulfilling,” said Moosa. “Al-Aqṣā captivates everyone who is in contact with it, and I pray that this same sense of love is experienced by the readers.”

According to the non-executive director of PIN, the intention is to provide a fresh educational approach. “We hope that this comprehensive work will fulfil an important role in education on Masjid al- Aqṣā and the wider Palestine issue through its fresh approach,” said Mawlānā Aboo Baker Mahomed. “The detail it contains is an essential part of a knowledge-based foundation to maintain the momentum for solidarity with the people of occupied Palestine.”

In his appraisal of the book, the chair of British NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa noted the book’s review of the historical landscape of Masjid al-Aqṣā and the wider Palestinian struggle. “Hafez Ebrahim traces the history of Masjid al-Aqṣā through the lives of the prophets to the present time,” said Ismail Adam Patel. “The detail in the book and anti-colonial perspectives provide a valuable insight into the context of current events.”

Masjid al-Aqṣā: A Journey Through Time is published by the Palestine Information Network (PIN), a South African non-profit institution that provides structured education and information about Palestine.

The book is currently available for purchase online via the Palestine Information Network (PIN), as well as through community bookstores across South Africa.