Al-Aqsa is quite possibly one of the most beautiful mosques I’ve ever laid my eyes on (albeit through a screen, but still!). Steeped in history and shrouded by spirituality, Masjid Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem. But in all honesty, I didn’t really know that much about it and had never really taken time to find out more. So much to my pleasure, when the lovely Penny Appeal team got in touch inviting SuperSisters along to the press screening of a brand new feature-length documentary about the historic site, I jumped at the opportunity, dragging another member of the SuperSisters team, Albert, along with me (not against his will, I assure you!). You can read Albert’s review giving his view from a non-Muslim perspective here.
Taking place on the hottest day of the year (38 degrees in London – WHAT THE FUDGE!), we somehow trawled and sweated our way to the Soho Screening Rooms, relieved to be greeted by the cool air that only an air-conditioned space can deliver. After mingling and chatting away to the Penny Appeal team and the PR team in charge of the event (and being reunited with a very old friend – PEDRO, I SEE YOU!), it was finally time to enter the intimate screening room where the film was to be showcased.
So let’s get straight into it.
Produced and directed by award-winning Abrar Hussain who brought us ‘One Day in the Haram’, One Night in Al-Aqsa was a very interesting watch, especially for someone like myself who didn’t know that much about the stunning site to begin with. It began by giving us some background information into its history, the architecture and the art that adorns the walls through a voiceover – and as an artist myself, I found this part really fascinating, soaking up the stunning imagery which was captured beautifully by the videography team.
However, I found the intro to be a little too long, at one point even questioning whether the whole movie was just going to be different shots of Al-Aqsa and its surrounding areas with the same voiceover. Thankfully, it wasn’t and we really began to get into the crux of the movie.
The documentary went on to explore the day-to-day running and maintenance of the mosque, allowing us to meet the people behind-the-scenes and the vast amount of work that goes into the smooth running of such an important place. And then the One Night in… part began to make sense, as we were informed about the Islamic history behind the site, and the huge relevance of the Night of Power (the 27th night of the holy month of Ramadan) to the mosque itself.
We were then taken on, what in my opinion, was the most interesting journey within the documentary – the build up to the Night of Power including all of the preparations that went into making sure everything was in place for the thousands and thousands of pilgrims that were to descend on the site on the holiest night of the year. The documentary then also showed us what the holy night itself looked like in the mosque, through never-before-seen footage, which for me was really magical.
I guess you can’t talk about or make a documentary about Al-Aqsa without reference to the dreadful, political conflict affecting the region, between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and of course this came as no surprise when it was addressed within the film. I found that the filmmakers did this really well and respectfully however, showing the realities of what many Muslim worshippers have to go through just to be able to get to Al-Aqsa. What I also found really beautifully done about the film was the time given to share the importance of the site to Jewish and Christian people alike, too – something that again, I think cannot be ignored when speaking about Al-Aqsa.
Overall, the film was very, very interesting and I would definitely watch it again just to soak up all of the information presented to the audience and take it all in on a deeper level. I would have liked to have seen more interviews with the Palestinian pilgrims and the worshippers that actually used the site for spiritual purposes, rather than just those behind-the-scenes though, but I guess that is something for Abrar to keep in mind for the future.
During the Q & A session with Director Abrar Hussain at the end of the screening, I raised my hand to ask the question, “Why should a non-Muslim person watch this film?”
I think that’s a very good question. Non-Muslims should watch this movie to get an Islamic perspective on this, as I don’t think there’s an Islamic perspective out there. All there is the non-Islamic perspective out there. This movie, like ‘One Night in the Haram’, was to give non-Muslims a real understanding from the sources of Islam. This is one of the places that really affected the nature of Islam; miracles happened there that defined Islam, that made it the religion it is today. Things that happened in Jerusalem and not just in Mecca – I think that’s very important. So I think through this, non-Muslims can better understand the religion, and through that they can better understand Muslims as well – so there’s a lot for them in this film.
So there you have it!
One Night in Al-Aqsa is making its way across the UK to a cinema near you, on its Premiere tour lasting all throughout August. What’s even better though is that all proceeds from this cinematic tour go towards developing the Makassed Islamic Charitable Hospital in East Jerusalem, providing the hospital’s Radiology Department with important screening and diagnostic equipment that could save millions of lives. Proceeds will also aid the Neonatal department by supplying them with incubators for infants and respiratory infant flow machines.
Check out the trailer below:
Book your tickets to help these hugely worthy causes and watch this fascinating piece of art by clicking here and don’t forget to send us a message letting us know what you thought of it too!
Light & Love ✨💛