Every Muslim yearns to perform the Hajj at least once in a lifetime. It is one of the fundamentals of Islam but like all other aspects of Religion, Hajj, too, has been ritualised and, therefore, trivialised. The estimated one million Muslims from around the world who are allowed to enter the kingdom annually have to run the gauntlet of Saudi incompetence and greed. Even before getting there, they have to go through the selection process in their country of residence to fall within the one percent quota arbitrarily imposed by the Saudi regime. Another Saudi-introduced bida’ (innovation) is the requirement of a visa when God says in the noble Qur’an to invite all those who have the means to perform Hajj (3: 97).
Once in the Arabian Peninsula, the pilgrims are left at the non-existent mercies of the Saudi authorities whose sole purpose of existence seems to be to gouge the guests of God. Inadequate housing, poor sanitation, lack of discipline and almost total disorganisation are some of the bitter experiences of most pilgrims these days. These are compounded by the exorbitant prices most shopkeepers charge during Hajj. It needs to be recalled that at the time of the second Caliph, Umar al-Khattab, an order was issued prohibiting the residents of Makkah from having locks on their doors. This was meant to indicate that every house in Makkah was available free to the guests of God to stay in. The same order was reissued during the caliphate of Ali Abi Talib. The Saudis who immediately denounce every pronouncement unfamiliar to them as bida’, are guilty of such gross bida’s yet they get away with it almost scot-free.
Even these deviations, however, pale into insignificance compared with the complete distortion of the Qur’anic commandments about Hajj. The Saudis insist, and unfortunately most regimes in the Muslim world tend to concur with them on this point, in complete contradiction of the Qur’anic command, that Hajj should be performed as a ritual and as quickly as possible. The pilgrims should then leave right away. The Qur’an stipulates that Hajj is a matter of months (2:197). Another important dimension of Hajj ordered by God in His noble Book is the public declaration of the Muslims’ severence of all relations with the Pagans (9:3). In fact, a number of verses of this chapter deal with this subject in great detail. The Saudis and their high priests insist that Muslims must do no such thing at the time of Hajj.
Should one obey God or the Saudis?
Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, the Saudi chief priest, was quoted by the London-based Saudi paper Al-Hayat on April 12 that holding the ‘anti-west’ rallies in Makkah is ‘heresy’ and should not be allowed. Unless Bin Baz was misquoted - and there is no reason to assume that since his statement was carried by a Saudi-owned paper - these amounts to denying the explicit command of God. Bin Baz, unfortunately has uttered other statements of this kind in the past. It is a reflection of the sad state of the Muslims, and especially those who call themselves ulama [scholars], that they are prepared to do the bidding of their masters in direct contradiction to the commandments of God.
Instead of the Hajj being the annual assembly of Muslims where the problems facing the Muslim World are discussed, it has been reduced by the Saudi mafia into a mechanical exercise. People are herded like sheep, told to perform certain rituals and then ordered to get lost. The only other activity that is allowed is to go on a shopping spree buying electronic goods or even beads and prayer rugs manufactured in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan! In short, the Saudis have reduced Hajj to the same level that used to be performed at the time of the pagan ignorance before the advent of Islam.
Neither the control of the Arabian Peninsula by the House of Saud nor the reduction of Hajj to a mechanical ritual have occurred by chance. These were carefully planned by the enemies of Islam to incapacitate the power of Islam and the Islamic Movement. For Muslims to accept this state of affairs is a gross dereliction of duty. Similarly, there is a great threat to the safety and security of Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah from the enemies of Islam. The Saudi regime is simply incapable of defending the holy places of Islam just as the Hashemite family in Jordan failed to protect Al-Quds from falling into the clutches of Zionism in 1967. Members of the House of Saud have little time from gambling and other seedy activities in Europe, Bahrain and Thailand to worry about the protection of the Haramain [two holy places].
It is the duty of Muslims to pay immediate attention to this vital part of the Muslim community. In particular, the Global Islamic Movement must address this issue as a matter of urgency.
Muslimedia - April 16-30, 1997