Palestinian and other Arab media have been whipped into a frenzy over the idea that more Jews will be visiting the Temple Mount during the upcoming holidays, with daily stories about how the Jews want to blow the shofar and bring the “arba minim” during Sukkot.
The Waqf wants Muslims to respond with large turnout of their own during the Jewish holidays.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs has warned of the danger of reviving “Jewish holidays” inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, and desecrating its sanctity and profaning it through the implementation of provocative rallies, calling for a public mobilization to travel to Al-Aqsa and to confront the settlers’ incursions into it on the eve of the alleged holidays.
She stressed that “Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa are a red line, and it is a sacred right that belongs to Muslims and the Jews have no connection with it…”
The Awqaf called on the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and all those who can reach Al-Aqsa to intensify their presence in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Rabat there during the festive period to limit the implementation of these incursions and marches.
This will make the Temple Mount look more like it did…in the times of the actual Temple!
During the Second Temple period, according to Josephus, there was an outer court of the Temple where gentiles could gather and buy animals to be sacrificed by the Jewish priests. It is mentioned in Christian scriptures as well. I don’t believe that this courtyard is mentioned by name in the Talmud but Menachot 73b does say that many Gentiles did come to the Temple (or send offerings to the Temple from remote regions) to relay various kinds of sacrifices of their own.
The site of Al Aqsa Mosque, which is built on one of the Herodian extensions of the Temple Mount and therefore of lesser sanctity, is very possibly part of this so-called “Court of the Gentiles.” (Various Christian maps of the Temple place this court in different locations, but most of them seem to say that the southern part where Al Aqsa Mosque is was at least part of it.)
Effectively, the Waqf is asking that Muslims make a pilgrimage to the site of the Temple on the Jewish holidays, including Sukkot, the same occasions that one may presume that gentiles traveled to the Temple Mount two thousand years ago to be part of the Jewish pilgrimage holidays.
So in a small and indirect way, the Waqf is asking Muslims to mimic what non-Jews did at the Temple so long ago. They are coming to the Temple at the times the Jews flock there to show their respect for what everyone knows has always been the most sacred Jewish spot.