Heading back to Jerusalem from Tiberius and Galilee, I had the opportunity to experience life as a Muslim, Jewish and Christian.
As a Muslim worshipper, I arrived in Jerusalem just in time for Al Aqsa Mosque prayers on the holy day of Friday. The men prayed at the Aqsa Mosque and the women at the Dome of the Rock. Praying there was inspiring, and to see that despite the heat, many of the followers remained focused and dedicated.
During our free time, we visited Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari’s home where the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Taha joined us for our prayers and to discuss religious and political beliefs which might have existed within our group. Exploring faith topics away from politics was enlightening, and helped me in seeing messages of peace and love for all.
As a Jewish worshipper, later that evening, we attended the choral service at the Great Synagogue. The structure was similar to that of the Muslim faith regarding the segregation between the men and women during prayers.
As the concept of Shabbat was for Jews to rest, “And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made” this inspired me to be more thoughtful and less materialistic or rushed, observant and experiencing life in a simplistic, peaceful setting.
We shared the Shabbat dinner after prayers, and engaged in the singing and tradition of cutting the bread and recitation of kiddush, or "sanctification". It was interesting to learn about the tradition of this meal every week, and I was overwhelmed at how much energy it takes to organise this big event. Nevertheless, every minute of preparation was worth it to be able to join together and engage with each other.
As a Christian worshipper, the next morning, we ventured to the Mount of Olives and started our pilgrimage around all the holy churches. Jesus is said to have spent a good deal of time on the mount, teaching and prophesying to his disciples (Matthew 24-25), including the Olivet discourse, returning after each day to rest (Luke 21:37), and also coming there on the night of his betrayal (Matthew 26:39).
It was an enhancing spiritual time, realising that it is believed, according to the Book of Zechariah, that all will be resurrected on the Mount of Olives in the days of the Messiah.
These two days proved to be a step towards our interfaith enlightenment. What moved me from these experiences was that in each place of worship we spent time at, whether Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, I sensed a strong message of peace and tranquility where humans are accepted with love away from the destructive shell of politics. It was a soul enlightening experience to explore how faith stipulates love, coexistence,and peace.
Hala El-Ousta is a Muslim post graduate student in law and equality, and a youth activist in the field of promoting multi-faith and children and youth rights. She is a member of the advisory committee for the Scottish Commission for Children and Young people.