Monday 3rd of August 2020

“Five Star” or Saudi-ized Hajj

“Five Star” or Saudi-ized Hajj


The annual Hajj pilgrimage that ended in the first week of October, was meant by God Almighty to remove all distinctions of wealth, class, position or authority, but as Canada-based Journalist Zafar Bangash Zafar Bangash, who is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, points out in the Crescent International Fortnightly, "the Saudis have reduced it to a purely commercial enterprise devoid of its Qur'anic content and Prophetic sunnah." Following is his interesting remarks in this regard.


The Hajj is meant to be a great leveller. By donning the Ehraam or two pieces of unstitched cloth, all distinctions of rank, power and wealth are obliterated among pilgrims. Every act of worship in Islam is in fact meant to remove such distinctions. Yet the current occupiers of the Haramayn or Islam's two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina - i.e. the House of Saud - are trying to impose distinctions. Not only have they imposed severe restrictions on the number of Muslims that can perform Hajj, using the excuse of expansion work in Masjid al-Haraam - or the Sacred Mosque that houses the holy Ka'ba in Mecca - the number of pilgrims has been reduced even more. Muslims from rich countries get preference over those from poorer regions. The rich are accommodated in five star hotels with lavish banquet facilities as if they are on a holiday instead of pilgrimage.

The Hajj has become a five-star indulgence. Hajj "vendors" tout the facilities they offer, that higher prices fetch "better" facilities, such as hotels right next to the Haram. Pilgrims are told they do not even have to go to the floor of the Haram! Sound from al-Masjid al-Haraam is piped into the hotel and pilgrims can pray in the "comfort of their hotel room." One can imagine the distinctions that are being created: if you are rich, you can have all the luxuries; why rub shoulders with the underprivileged and the poor! Unfortunately, some Muslims have allowed themselves into being manipulated by such material lures ignoring the real spirit of Hajj.

Hajj is both the largest assembly of the Ummah as well as a reflection of the Ummah at any given time. If the Ummah is in a state of crisis - and it is difficult to think of any time in recent history when it has not been in the grip of multiple crises - the Hajj will be a crisis-ridden experience. It is no exaggeration to say that from start to finish, one encounters endless chaos while performing Hajj. This is the direct result of the gross incompetence and authoritarian imperiousness of the Saudis, the current occupiers of the Arabian Peninsula who care little or nothing about service or management. They are driven only by greed; and hence to gouge the "lowly" pilgrims of whatever they can in the form of Hajj "packages" is considered by them to be a right. Greedy middlemen, hangers-on of the Aal-e Saud clan, are given privileges to manage various aspects of Hajj from accommodation to transportation. The best hotels are owned by the Saudi "royals." These are built with money taken (stolen) from the Bayt al-Mal, courtesy of the court mullahs who have dished out fatwas "allowing" such theft. If the Saudi hordes could steal gold and jewels from the Rawdhah al-Mutahharah - the final resting place of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) - as they did in 1805 and 1925, why would they feel any inhibition in gouging ordinary Muslims?

This is one dimension of the problem with the Saudi occupation of the Arabian Peninsula. As for Hajj serving as the annual assembly of the Ummah, the Saudis have made sure that no such activity takes place. Pilgrims are separated according to nationality and no discussion about the burning issues of the Ummah is allowed. Instead, the Saudi regime invites a select group of its paid agents for a lavish meal where they might get a glimpse of the king. This rather than the performance of Hajj, serves as the highlight of their experience!

Equally serious is the manner in which the Hajj, one of the most important pillars of Islam, has been distorted and emptied of its true meaning. Unfortunately, Muslims have been led to believe that Hajj is only about rituals. This erroneous understanding has been deliberately promoted by the Saudi court mullahs and regrettably accepted by Muslims everywhere. Those ulema and committed Muslims who try to emphasize the Qur'anic basis of Hajj are immediately accused of "politicizing" it.

Let us remind ourselves (and the imposters who stole the Haramayn) of the divine words in the majestic Qur'an that are seldom mentioned in any discussion about Hajj, as is evident in ayah 3 of Surah Towba:

"[This is] an announcement from Allah and His Prophet to all the people on the day of the Greater Hajj:that Allah and His Prophet repudiate the polytheists..."

As is clear by the wordings of this ayah Almighty Allah commands Muslims to proclaim their dissociation from evil powers, especially at the time of Hajj, yet the Saudi occupiers of the Arabian Peninsula insist Muslims must not bring up such matters during Hajj. Under what Islamic injunction do the illegitimate rulers and their court mullahs make such pronouncements? Are Muslims required to fulfill their obligations as outlined in the Qur'an and exemplified by the Prophet of Islam or abide by the insulting policies of the House of Saud?

The Muslim world will continue to suffer humiliation as long as Mecca and Medina remain under Saudi control. Liberation of the Haramayn must become an urgent priority of the global Islamic movement.

Columnist Abu Dharr writing on the same subject in the fortnightly Crescent International, calls the annual pilgrimage "Saudi-ized Jahili Hajj", and says: Mecca and Medina were always open to all Muslims but under the Saudis, these have become off-limits. If Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) or Prophets Abraham and Ishmael (peace upon them) wanted to perform Hajj today, the Saudis would insist they obtain a visa before coming!

Alas, the Hajj this year, as has been the case for many, many years, proved to be a non-Hajj. Why? Simply because it is a fact, and a recurring one at that, the Hajj was meant to have meaning(s). In Hajj we have the tears of Hajar (Ishmael's loving mother); we have the survival of Ishmael, the almost dying baby. We have the desperate but hopeful mother Hajar running between the hillocks of Safa and Marwah to save the life of her infant son who was dying of natural and social causes on the hot Arabian sands of that desolate area in Hijaz. The Hajj was meant to relay to humanity the physical and behavioral construction of Allah's sanctuary and asylum for the homeless and the stateless.

Mecca itself came into existence to lodge and accommodate Prophet Abraham who was expelled by his own people from his original society and its culture. Prophet Abraham lived humanity's first dispersion and homelessness. Thus came a time and place where Abraham and his son Ishmael would reconstruct Allah's sanctuary - the inviolable Ka‘ba - as a haven for the world's displaced and destitute.

One of the meanings of circling around the Ka‘ba is to establish the fact that we (the displaced, the marginalized, the oppressed, the victims) do exist - in the manner that neutrons (elementary particles with zero charge and mass about equal to a proton) enter into the structure of the atomic nucleus, eventually becoming a mass - crowds of people, critical mass with meaningful and life-sustaining movement. The Hajj is meant to motivate us to take issue with Satan in a physical way. The pelting of stones (ramyu al-jamarat) at the symbol of Satan demonstrates our willingness to do battle with the forces of evil, and not be satisfied with words of condemnation alone. These are the forces of evil that have rendered us the forlorn Rohingya, the rootless African-American Muslims, the exiled Islamic movement members, the landless Palestinian populations of the world and the tens of millions of refugees who have been scattered all over the world.

One of the meanings of Mecca, alienated from our conscience, is to offer meat and food to the starving, the poor, the hungry, and the malnourished. When Prophet Abraham was ordered to sacrifice his eldest and begotten son Ishmael, the very fiber of human nature said "no." How can a father sacrifice his own son, who together with Hajar are the genesis of Mecca - their newly and only home and homeland? How can an alienation of a lifetime suffered by Abraham be permitted to revisit him again as a consequence of Ishmael being sacrificed? But Allah's will had to be done. And when the father began to actualize the putting to death of his beloved Ishmael, Allah's mercy, His sole prerogative, intervened and overturned His command to Abraham. Allah did not want human sacrifice; it was a test of Abraham. Thus we have, at a minimum, a meaning and a lesson: (a) obeying Allah eventually leads to feeding the hungry, the thirsty, and the dying; and (b) the intention to sacrifice the most precious thing one has in life becomes reclamation of life itself.

This inclusive and hospitable Mecca lost its meaning and identity, the first time around, when its rulers forced our beloved Prophet to leave under the threat of assassination - when he went to Yathrib (later to be called Medina). Nowadays, Mecca has again lost its meaning and identity when its rulers forbid the Hajj and the Umrah to anyone who recaptures and assimilates the character of Prophets Abraham, Ishmael, and Mohammad (peace upon them).

The Hajj was meant to break down all barriers and to fulfill the objective of unity and uniformity among all those who attend. Muslims shed their worldly positions and their social status when they don the ihram. You can't tell by looking at a person whether he/she is upper class or lower class, military or civilian, from the elite or from the working class, etc. All of these meanings and much more are absent from the Saudi-ized Hajj. Initially, their British masters and now their American overlords have managed to macro-manage the Hajj through the Saudi petro-family. And due to the absence of the thinking Muslim Ummah the Jewish-Saudi Hajj has become meaningless ceremonial customs and ossified observances and programmed practices.

Who said that Muslims are only allowed two or three weeks in the land of the Prophet and the Qur'an? With current Saudi rules and regulations Prophets Abraham, Ishmael, and Muhammad (peace upon them) would have to apply for visas to go to Mecca and Medina, and then have to endure security checks once they arrive. Mecca, Medina, and the Hijaz were always been open to all the Muslims of the world, until, that is, the advent of the British and the Saudis. Mecca was the melting pot of the Muslims of the world. Any Muslim from anywhere in the world - from Sumatra to Timbuktu - had he/she so intended and was able to do so, could go to Mecca for the Hajj and/or the Umrah and stay there for the love of Allah and His Prophet. Not anymore. Now the Saudi regime sees to it that all Muslims who come to perform the Hajj and Umrah must leave the land of Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny)... and stay away. The security setup is going electronic and the Saudis with coaching from Washington and Tel Aviv will have files on Muslims coming for Hajj!

Poor Muslims! Under these imposed conditions, they do not have it within their larger selves to take these hydrocarbon Saudis to the cleaners. O Muslims! Don't you know you have all the Allah-given rights to go and be in the vicinity of the Prophet and be there as long as you can support yourselves without the Saudi bid‘ahs of imprimaturs, visas, and other secular endorsements that beg the permission of royals to obey Allah ? At a time when Palestine is occupied in the bloody manner that breaks out in wars every few years, resulting in thousands of people killed, tens of thousands wounded, and hundreds of thousands becoming homeless, why can't you the Muslims demand to go to Khaybar? Is Khaybar off-limits to the hujjaj (pilgrims)? Is Khaybar occupied territory? At a time when the Saudis are meeting incessantly with the Yahudis to do war against Islamic self-determination, at a time when their intelligence chiefs are frantically exchanging notes and ideas on how to defeat an awakening of Muslims in Asia and Africa, at a time when Wahhabi Arabia finds common purpose with Talmudic Zionism, at a time when Riyadh receives its orders to classify activist Muslims as "terrorists," with all the accompanying legal and penal consequences, isn't it high time that we the Muslims who are going to a purposeful Hajj also go to Khaybar to recollect our thoughts and inspire our generation with our Prophet's (pbuh) defeat of Yahud in Arabia the first time around?

You heard it here first. Hajj has to become meaningful - it has to have a meaning and a purpose. Al-Hijaz has to be accessible to all Muslims every day of the year. And every place the Prophet went in Arabia should be approachable by any Muslim who so intends to walk the footsteps of the Prophet that obviously and boldly includes Khaybar, the stronghold of Yahud, that was liberated by the Prophet and his committed generation of combat-ready Muslims. Have you ever taken a few minutes to think about the fact that we don't have even a picture of Khaybar today? Even the Muslims, who are Saudi citizens and who - it would appear - do not have the same restrictions and restraints placed upon them as other Muslims have - even they do not trek up to Khaybar and have programs there about Zionism and its evil nexus of clients who all cooperate to reduce Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims to what we have become in today's world.

Why can't we, the Muslims of the world, think about holding an international and global conference about Palestine in Khaybar itself? Is there any sacred or secular law that says we can't or shouldn't? Why aren't all programs pertaining to Palestine - political, humanitarian, social, educational, academic, etc. - convened in Khaybar?

The simple answer is that Yahud have reoccupied Khaybar through their Saudi soulmates. Just like Palestine no longer belongs to the Muslims, Khaybar, too, no longer belongs to the Muslims. Palestine is under Hebrew occupation and Khaybar is under Arabian occupation. The Saudi regime is wasting our precious time on their imperialist and Zionist sponsored Hajj. They are wasting our holy places by physically and morally demolishing them in Mecca and Medina. They are wasting our wealth by financing the imperialist-Zionist military industrial banking complex. They are wasting our din by their Wahhabi nihilist outfits.

"And what is due to Allah is for people to journey to the Inviolable House - whoever is able to trek that path... "(3:97).



source : english.irib.ir
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