Category Archives: Islam Online

Reclaiming Palestinian Heritage

When we think of heritage and culture, we usually think of old buildings and silly things we put on display in dusty museums that have no relevance to our daily lives. But in Palestine it’s really a hot topic- I mean the news that Israel declared the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron and the Bilal mosque (Rachel’s tomb) in Bethlehem as ‘Jewish heritage sites’ actually sparked riots. This may be an extreme reaction but I do understand the Palestinian people’s apprehensions.

I remember when I met Daoud Hammoudi of Stop the Wall (I also happened to meet Mohammed Othman who was jailed for his work at the office which was later ransacked by Israeli soldiers), he said that in the Israeli-Palestine conflict everything was political. The roads, the signs, the walls- everything. Sadly, heritage and archaeology is included in that and I think it’s fair to say that both sides sometimes overstep the mark in the cultural grab-and-run.

Even so, it’s the Palestinians that are losing out and although some people state that heritage (like the environment) could be an area where the Israeli’s and Palestinians could find common ground, I am rather dubious about the whole concept. Last year I spoke to Raed al-Mickawi from Bustan, an environmental peacekeeping organisation which works with Bedouins in Beer Sheba, and he had this to say: “In terms of co-existence, it is problematic as there has to be two equal sides and at the moment they [Bedouins] are almost invisible and really discriminated against…”

I think that it works the same way with the issue of heritage. Palestinians see any small claim as a threat as Israel does has the power and ability to take it all- after the fact that these sites are both in the West Bank didn’t seem to faze Israel at all. So unless this changes I think its fair to say that there will be probably be a riot following any attempts by Israel to stake its claims over any site.

Anyway Here’s an piece I did on the two sites for IslamOnline which got me thinking about the whole issue. Enjoy

The Ibrahimi and Bilal Mosque

Reclaiming Palestinian Heritage

By  Arwa Aburawa

Freelance Journalist – UK

The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (also known as Al-Haram al-Ibrahimi)

Last week, Israel provoked anger and indignation by listing two important Muslim Palestinian sites- the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem- as “Israeli archaeological sites.”

Not only are both of these holy sites within the Palestinian territories of the West Bank but they are also of significant religious and historic importance to Muslims.

Many commentators remarked that this decision was simply a means to dispossess Palestinians of their religious heritage whilst reinforcing Israeli claims to the sites. Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister is reported as saying: “Our existence here doesn’t just depend on the might of the military or our economic and technological strength. It is anchored first and foremost in our national and emotional legacy.” It seems clear, therefore, that this is nothing more than a cynical ploy to fortify Israeli claims to sites by dismissing their link to Muslim and Palestinian history.

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Muslim Inventions in the World of Science

1001 Inventions by Muslims Awarded
By  Arwa Aburawa
Salim Al-Hassani
Salim Al-Hassani on receiving his honorary degree.

A Muslim scientist who helped chart the lost innovations of Islam in the book “1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World”, has recently been granted a fellowship by the British Science Association for his efforts.

Over the last two decades, Professor Salim Al-Hassani has helped reclaim Islamic scientific, artistic and technological advances which have been marginalized or simply forgotten in a world focused on Western advancements.

Professor Al-Hassani told that “the 1001 Inventions project is about the history of science and focuses upon the thousand year period from the 7th century onwards that is currently under-appreciated by many around the world.”

In fact, the period between the 7th and 17th centuries has been labeled as the ‘Dark Ages’ in the West despite the exceptional scientific advances in the Muslim world.

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Geo-engineering: Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures?


In the face of predicted failure at climate talks this December, voices advocating controversial geo-engineering measures such as simulating volcanic eruptions to cool the planet are getting louder. Many state that we need some sort of Plan B, and geo-engineering has always been considered ‘the last resort’.


Recently, top UK science body the Royal Society admitted that there was a need to consider geo-engineering as part of global efforts to tackle climate change. The question is: do desperate times really call for desperate measures?


Traditionally, tackling climate change has focused on CO2 reductions, with geo-engineering (the practice of deliberately manipulating the Earth’s climate to counteract global warming) discarded as something from science fiction. Large mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays and spraying sea salt into the atmosphere to create white clouds may seem like something from a Hollywood blockbuster but scientists are now beginning to push for more research into geo-engineering techniques and their effectiveness.

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Spending My Shekels on Palestine


Israeli products sold in UK supermarkets

Before setting off to Jerusalem, I sat down and thought very carefully about how I wanted to spend my money in the city.

A lot of people who support the Palestinian cause are careful to boycott Israeli products but a lot fewer have the chance to actively support the Palestinian economy. Visiting Jerusalem would be my chance to throw in my shekels for the Palestinian economy so I want to make sure I get it right. Basically I need to avoid propping up Israeli businesses while I am there and although I am not spending thousands, if you put together all the money tourist spend it really does start to add up.

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Islamic Architecture in Jerusalem

Detail of Dome of the RockHaram al-Sharif: first qibla, second mosque and third holiest site in Islam

Nestled in the old city walls of Jerusalem, the Haram al-Sharif, or al-Aqsa Sanctuary, is the single most sacred site in the Holy Land. As the first qibla in Islam and third holiest site after Mecca and Medinah, this vast promenade also marks the blessed site of Prophet Muhammad’s [pbuh] ascension to heaven. Indeed, Allah has blessed and honored this site for mankind to reap spiritual and material benefits even before the Prophet’s [pbuh] ascension.

As Surah al-Isra reveals:
(Holy is He Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque (in Makkah) to the Farther Mosque (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our Signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. ) [Al-Isra 17:1]

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What’s behind the Israeli Separation Wall? Implications for Jerusalem


Click here to enlarge © Arwa Aburawa

Walking around the ancient streets and spice markets of Jerusalem, it is easy to forget that this city is under Israeli occupation. Daily life flows smoothly between shopping mothers, kids at schools and old men sitting outside shops drinking coffee. Nothing really seems out of place, until you look a little closer. Firstly, there are Israeli soldiers walking through the market and streets, on buses, queuing at the post office and eating falafel- they are everywhere. Another thing that makes you realize that something is very wrong is the Wall.

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Formation of Palestinian Identity

Palestinians have been divided and systematically fragmented since the Nakba (disaster) of 1948 which tore them from their homes and dispersed them across the world. There are those living within Israel who are separated from those living in the West Bank, and both are cut off from those in Gaza; Palestinians living in refugee camps throughout the Arab world and those in the global Diaspora.

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