On Tuesday, I wrote about a fire that swept through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday night. At the same time that Notre Dame burned, there was a fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The fire at Notre Dame in Paris caused some serious damage to the roof, and collapsed the central spire, but the fire at Al-Aqsa caused little damage by comparison. The main casualty was a mobile wooden guard booth that was on the rooftop of a prayer room.
Despite the ramping up in the investigation of the Notre Dame fire, no foul play is suspected at this point, and the same remains true of the fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Children playing in the courtyard are suspected to have accidentally started the fire.
The Palestine News Agency, the Palestinian National Authority's official outlet, cited a guard as saying Monday that "the fire broke out in the guard's room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully."
Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered the third holiest site in Islam, behind Mecca, and the Al-Masjid an-Nabawī Mosque in Medina.
Many people have been saying prayers that these fires did not completely consume these two holy sites, but the real heroes are the firefighters who fought the blaze. The Al-Aqsa Mosque fire was put out in less than ten minutes because of people, not because of a god. And four hundred firefighters fought the blaze at Notre Dame for hours to limit the damage it caused. No god intervened there.
In my post about the Notre Dame fire I expressed that I was glad the cathedral was saved for its relevance in history and its art, and the same goes for this mosque. I may be an atheist, and I may want religion, be it Christianity or Islam, to be relegated to history where it belongs, but I think there is still a place for important relics of our past.