There are nine gates to enter the City but not all are opened. Muslims mainly enter from Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate and Lion's Gate ... right into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City before we reached the entrance to the Courtyard of Haram Al Sharif. Be prepared to hear the various names of the Gates in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
The Haram Al Sharif is represented by that rectangular walled area on the right. You might say a wall within a wall. Doors into the Haram are locked and secured by armed Israel Security Police after Isya', and will be opened at about 4.00 am for Fajar Solat.
We entered the main door to the courtyard of the Haram al Sharif from the north, moved past the Dome of the Rock in order to reach Masjid Al Aqsa. There are a few other doors to enter the courtyard of the Haram, all manned by armed Israel Security Forces. We only entered the courtyard from the main North Door.
(Gates refer to the entrances sited at the outer wall, while doors refer to the entrances to the courtyard of the Haram Al Sharif (The Dome of The Rock and masjid Al Aqsa).
We encountered a still closed door on the second morning of our ziarah ... because we were at the door to the Haram at about 3.30am. We just quietly waited. By 4.00 am the door suddenly opened and the armed security police who opened it appeared from the inside.
AlhamduLillah syukur that we did not encounter any incident similar to the one as illustrated below.
You may not wish to encounter this ...
when some of the armed police similar to the above were walking briskly behind us ... i was almost sure that our heartbeats were louder than the sounds of their boots briskly hitting the cobblestones of that narrow alleys ...
ahhhhh i felt so ashamed ... for my cowardice!
Are we not supposed to fear no one but Allah SWT?
For the locals, this is part of their real life ... notice on the left of the above image, some of them waiting patiently for the chance to enter the Haram.
Earlier while waiting for the immigration clearance at King Hussein/Allenby Bridge, I asked our Brother Guide in Amman how would visitors know whether it is safe to enter Baitul Maqdis. And he said, Jordan will not allow visitors to cross the border if there is any hint of trouble. So for guided ziarah insyaAllah, we should have nothing to worry.
but again remember ...
how many times we have been reminded that Allah SWT is with those who help Him ...
The gates ...
Ameen ... Allahumma Ameen..