Dome of the Rock

I have been blessed beyond measure. I know with faith in the Lord, all things are possible and the Lord uses small and simple things to bring about his purposes.

My friend Abdallah, the tallest teenage boy across the street and his family are the most wonderful people. In the Mormon church, we would consider them "ward missionaries". They have taught me so much about Islam.

Abdallah invited me to the Al-Aqsa mosque and I said yes but after asking my professors before and the Palestinaian workers I felt a little discouraged. One of the workers in the kitchen Zachie said, "Dont talk and cover everything but your eyes and you might get in". They used to let tourists in but ever since the year 2000, when the second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising happened, they usually only allow Muslim inside.

So that afternoon I was filled with excitment, but tried not to get my hopes up as I came to meet Abdallah, who had full confidence I could go. His darling little sister Zenab began wrapping my head to cover my hair. Even though it was just a piece of fabric, I felt suddenly like I slipped further into their world as I walked down the street looking like a Muslim woman. Even though this look excentuates the roundness of my face I found myself feeling beautiful. I truly feel that the women are glorified and respected here rather than oppressed for their modesty.

When Abdallahs mother, Khadega found out he was taking me, she was incredibly kind and dropped everything to be my escourt. I was relived and so greatful as women pray seperately then men and I wouldn have a clue what to do after I was seperated from the boys. Abdallah's father, Sameer, a kind faced, bearded man who resembles Raffi drove us in his little Van.

The Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock sits, is perhaps the most highly contested area in Jerusalem, because it is so holy to both Islam and Judaism. Its here that the Jews belive that God gathered dust to create the first man, and where the temple was built in Christs time. its so holy the Jews sont set foot on the Mount.

Since this sight is so sacred to both, it has been a hot spot for violence tourists usually have to pass through 3 security checks to get in. This time we entered a small private gate for Muslims. I felt a little anxious but excited walking arm in arm with Khadega past the guards, they didnt look twice. But as I glanced back at my two friends, Aaron and Brian, they were stopped at the gate, Abdallahs father who knows everyone, was making phone calls trying to see what he could do.

I felt a little nervous being on my own, but I just said a little prayer in my heart and preceeded walking to the Dome with Khadeja. I have been there several times as a tourist with my class, but this time I felt it so different.

Khadega was so beautiful, she told me how good it feels to be a muslim. Closing her eyes and with her hand over her heart she breathed deeply the the crisp air and said, "Beautiful" as if to describe the moment, I felt it too.

When we got up to the Dome of the Rock my heart was pounding. I began to feel nervous and hot under my headscarf. I took off my shoes just like all the women and went inside. When we got inside we immediately joined in the prayers. I tried to follow along quickly with all the motions. I tried to be reverent during the prayer but I was so curious I accidentaly kept peeking.

The women were so beautiful, many of them had their children with them and had just come from shopping. But they are so devoted to prayer. The call to prayer goes off everyday 5 times a day, starting at 4 AM on the big loud speakers all across Jerusalem, reminding everyone to say their prayers.

After prayers we walked around the Dome and there was all this ornate gold writing on the ceiling, very beautifuly decorated, but the most beautiful were all the women who were sitting on the ground studying or praying, no matter their age, showing their respect and love for God.

I know that Heavenly Father is the father to all of us, and that we all pray the same loving Father. Im so greatful for my friend Abdallah and his faith! We truly do need to have childike faith and we can do all things.

There are so much good here, but there are also many problems. People will say that things are impossible, and so they prove to be for that very reason. But I think if we all belive in miracles then perhaps they will have a better chance!


Matt said...

marni, this is incredible. i can't believe this experience. they're all amazing so far, but this one...WOW!!

Brooke Self said...

I'm no expert but my friend says that was a pretty big risk you took! Glad you are safe and sound!

JoLyn said...

Wow. Marni, when BYUH talks about educating leaders of the world, I think about you. I've never met anyone as accepting and open as you. It's amazing how your personality has enabled you to do incredible, nearly impossible things. Keep it up!