Fifty pro-Israel Jewish businessmen are reported to have visited Al-Masjid an-Nabwi in Madina last month at the invitation of the Saudi authorities.
The visit breaks the rules that the Holy City of Makkah and Madina are forbidden for non-Muslims in Surah Al Tawbah in the Holy Quran. The majority of scholars also interpreted the sahih hadith that supported the prohibition of non-Muslims from entering the holy city.
One of the Jewish businessmen in the group visiting the Prophet’s Mosque was Avi Jorish, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. He later shared his experience visiting the holy mosque through the Jerusalem Post.
Jorish said that a delegation of 50 Jewish businessmen from 13 countries initially worried before leaving for Saudi; they wondered whether they could be allowed to enter the Kingdom and be accepted by the people there reasonably and openly.
Apparently, according to Jorish, the Saudis received them well. Israel’s cutting-edge technology became the main discussion between the Jewish business delegation and the Saudi side.
Furthermore, he said that all members of the entourage were astonished that the Saudis violated the 1,300-year-old prohibition by allowing non-Muslims to enter Madina and even inviting them to visit the Prophet’s Mosque and removing signs reading “Muslims only” on the roads leading to Madina. The visit was meant to promote mutual understanding, respect, and tolerance, Jorish added.
When describing his impression of Madina, Jorish said that Madina was sublime. He said that when the guide took the group of Jewish businessmen to the courtyard of the mosque, he sat looking at the mosque’s green dome, below which the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad and his two companions (Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khattab) and with a vacant place for Jesus, he then did his daily meditation and contemplated the long history of Islam.
Jorish believes that visits to Saudi Arabia, including the Prophet’s Mosque, have changed their perspective on how Saudis now see Jewish people. While it has not issued any statement regarding the visit report, Saudi authorities are widely considered to have given the green light to the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan to begin normalizing relations with Israel.
Speculation that Riyadh will eventually follow the same path has also sprung up.