Guest column by Maimoona Harrington
Dear Readers, it’s time to conclude my “Because He loves you: my journey to the Holy Land” series. This time I will take you to the beautiful city of Bethlehem.
Yes Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus (peace be upon him). Jesus (peace be upon him) was believed to be born in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. My trip to Bethlehem included visit to the shrine called Milk Grotto, Shepherd’s field and to the protest art on the separation wall in West bank of Bethlehem.
Our first stop was the Shepherd’s Field and it’s believed this is where the Gospel of Luke tells us, ‘an angle announced the birth of Jesus.’ There are three possible locations for this site however, they are all located in the same vicinity of 300 to 400 meters of each other. The beautiful Italian architecture and designs of angels on the chapel are breath taking. One can feel the spiritual presence.
Our next stop was the Milk Grotto shrine. The Milk Grotto shrine is, “According to tradition, while Mary and Joseph were fleeing Herod’s soldiers on their way to Egypt, they stopped in this cave while Mary nursed the baby Jesus. A drop of Mary’s milk fell upon the stone and it turned white”.
The shrine had a soothing and calming atmosphere. Walls with pictures of Jesus (peace be upon him), Mary (peace be upon her) and Joseph )peace be upon him) are an evidence of a beautiful love and relation between a child and a mother nevertheless the child so special as “Jesus” )peace be upon him).
From there we drove to the Church of Nativity to see the grotto of nativity, the birth place of Jesus (peace be upon him).
“Entering the church that marks the site of Christ’s birthplace means having to stoop low. The only doorway in the fortress-like front wall is just 1.2 meters high. The previous entrance to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was lowered around the year 1,500 to stop looters from driving their carts in. To Christians, it seems appropriate to bow low before entering the place where God humbled himself to become man,” according to See The Holy Land.
Seeing the church of nativity was mesmerizing and captivating. I was overwhelmed with the feelings of respect, wonderment and was emotional as I was about to witness the birthplace of the most special prophet in Islam Hazrat Isa (peace be upon him) — Jesus. Jesus (peace be upon him) is the most mentioned person in the Quran (Muslim Holy book). His name is mentioned 25 times directly as ‘Isa’ (peace be upon him) and 48 times as third person and 35 times as first person.
I sat there pondering how blessed I am to witness the place where the esteemed Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) was born. “The place of Christ’s birth is a dimly-lit rock cave. Instead of a star above, a 14-point silver star on the marble floor of the Grotto of the Nativity bears the words “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est” (Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary).”
This trip did not end my journey to the Holy land however, it did complete it!
If, as humans, we see how Allah (God) has made Jerusalem a special place to let co-exist all three monotheistic religions, then why are we as humans not able to see and understand to live in peace?
My journey to Holy Land was a reminder to who I am, my history and to what I belong to. How Allah made me “Human Being” and “Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat” (the best of the creation), then why divide than unite? We must all ask ourselves this question and learn to prove with our actions that we are indeed the best of His creation !
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