From 8th to 14th June 2019, 38 Waqifeen-e-Nau from various parts of UK partook in a trip to the symbolic and historic land of Palestine/Israel. The purpose of this trip was to enable Waqifeen-e-Nau brothers to foster strong relationships with one another, as well as recognise the importance of the Waqf-e-Nau scheme, and further develop their religious and historical knowledge.
The group travelled from London Luton airport and arrived in Tel-Aviv at approximately 9pm local time. From here, Waqifeen-e-Nau travelled by coach to the current headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the Middle East, Mahmood Mosque in Kababir, Haifa, where they would stay for the duration of their trip. They were met with a warm welcome and treated to excellent hospitality and care by the Kababir Jama’at that would remain as such till their final day.
Here, I would like to mention that Haifa was also visited by Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), Khalifatul Masih II, during his 1924 trip to Palestine.
The first day consisted of a packed itinerary in Haifa. It began with a visit to one of the most popular destinations in Israel, the Baha’i gardens. Next the group visited the historical Al Istiqlal Mosque, the oldest Mosque in Haifa. The group was able to offer Nawafil here as well as take in the architectural significance of the site. The home of Prophet Elijah (as), in the steep hills of Mount Carmel was the next destination for the group. This location is also where it is believed He once travelled to contest the claims of some certain false prophets, during the time of his own prophethood. The group stopped off here for some time, where they received a welcome address by Sadr Sahib Majlis Khuddam ul Ahmadiyya Palestine and later tucked into a fantastic barbecue that had been arranged by the local Khuddam. The day ended with a sitting with Ameer Sahib at Mahmood mosque. Ameer Sahib covered a number of topics during his talk, including a fascinating and inspirational account of Huzoor’s (Aba) election as Khalifatul Masih V, which, being a member of the election committee, he was able to witness first-hand.
Day two was relatively relaxed in comparison. First, the Waqifeen-e-Nau spent a few hours at nearby Carmel Beach. Here they enjoyed soaking in the sun and participating in activities such as water volleyball in the Mediterranean Sea and beach football. Prior to departure everyone took their chance to grab a customary ice-cream, as of course, a trip to the beach can never feel complete without it! Upon returning to the mosque the group observed their Zohr prayers. This was followed by a sitting with Murabbi Sahib Kababir for a discussion on the historical significance of the sites that they were to visit in the coming days. In the evening, Waqifeen-e-Nau participated in an indoor football competition that the Kababir Jama’at had specifically organised for them.
After Tahajjud and Fajr prayers and breakfast on day three, the Waqf-e-Nau prepared for their first trip to the West Bank, Palestine, accompanied by Ameer Sahib. Following a three-hour journey south their first stop was at the home of a recent Ahmadi convert where they were invited for breakfast before continuing on to Hebron. Here they visited a Mosque which houses the tombs of Hazrat Ibrahim (as), his wife Hazrat Sarah (as), their son Hazrat Ishaq (as) and his wife Hazrat Rafqa (Rebecca) (as). This was followed by a visit to the tomb of Hazrat Yunus (as) shortly after, located in the nearby Nabi Younis Mosque. The next stop was Bethlehem where Waqifeen-e-Nau visited the Church of the Nativity. A holy site for Christians, the Church gets its significance for being built over a cave which is commonly believed to be the location where Hazrat Mariam (as) gave birth to Hazrat Isa (as) and as such is a place of great importance to Christians (and indeed those of other faiths) all over the world. After departing from Bethlehem, Waqifeen-e-Nau embarked on a journey to what was perhaps the most significant destination of the trip to the land of the Prophets, the holy city of Jerusalem. A place of great significance to adherents of the main Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Waqifeen-e-Nau first visited the Dome of the Rock. After offering Zuhr and Asr prayers here the group moved on to see the even more historic Al Aqsa mosque which was situated in the same vicinity. Nearby the Waqf-e-Nau also had an opportunity to view a site of religious significance to the Jews, the Wailing Wall. They were also able to see the site of where Hazrat Isa (as) was put on the cross. The group was also able to take in the famous atmosphere of the old city as they walked through the narrow cobbled streets of Jerusalem and saw the old town markets brimming with merchants selling their products and food vendors with enticing displays of different and colourful cuisines.
The fourth day saw the Waqifeen-e-Nau return to the West Bank accompanied by Murabbi sahib. This time they travelled along the Jordan border headed for the lowest point on Earth, the famous Dead Sea. On the way the group stopped off at a few other interesting destinations. This included the site on the Jordan River where Hazrat Isa (as) is alleged to have been the recipient of the first baptism by Hazrat Yaya (as) (also known as John the Baptist in Christianity). The group were able to see not only the significance of this sight but also the practice of the Christians to immerse themselves within the river as tribute to what happened there many centuries ago. They then travelled to the city of Jericho, which is recognised as being the oldest continuous inhabited settlement and dates back more than 10,000 years, and also the Nabi Musa Mosque. Following arrival at Kalia Beach, Dead Sea, Waqifeen-e-Nau had lunch and then enjoyed a couple of hours floating in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea and masking themselves in the mineral rich soil found on the seabed before their journey back to Kababir.
Day five was the final day of site seeing, though no less busy. Waqifeen-e-Nau visited a variety of locations which included; the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth, where Hazrat Maryam (as) received the revelation from God regarding Hazrat Isa (as); Tiberias, where many Christians believe Jesus (as) performed the miracle of walking on water. Additionally, Waqifeen-e-Nau also had the opportunity to visit a bee farm owned by an Ahmadi brother in the beautiful area of the Golan Heights. The farm, hidden deep within the towering mountains that border Palestine and Syria and shadowed by the Sea of Galilee was a place where they gained a wealth of knowledge on the lives, and importance of bees and how they can relate this to their everyday life and the work they do for the Jama’at. The honey bee taught them the beautiful lesson of obedience to Khilafat. They also had an opportunity to purchase a variety of authentic honey products. Finally, before departing for Kababir for the last time, the group made a visit to the coastal town of Akko, famous for its coastal beauty, its links to countless civilisations of the world and its crushing victory against the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.
The following day was Waqf-e-Nau UK’s last of the Palestine trip. As it was Friday, the group read Jummah prayers and listened to Huzoor’s (Aba) sermon being broadcasted live from the UK. This was followed by a delicious lunch that served roast chicken, a group picture with Ameer Sahib and a last chance for Waqifeen-e-Nau to exchange farewell’s with Kababir Jama’at and thank them for their truly amazing and tireless hospitality and care.
Waqifeen-e-Nau departed from Tel-Aviv for London Luton at approximately 11pm on the 14th June 2019 and arrived at Islamabad, Tilford at Fajr time. This marked the end of a most exceptional, historic and inspirational trip. Alhamdullilah.