Co[ The Fri­day lumn Tears for Hara­mayn [II]

Daily Trust - - SPORT - Cor­po­rate Of­fice: La­gos of­fice:

But is the Ummah per­ma­nently sad­dled with this in­com­pe­tence? It is dif­fi­cult to forecast, be­cause the main prob­lem of the Mus­lim World with re­gard to the con­trol and man­age­ment of the Hara­mayn is the false pres­tige that Mus­lims keep giv­ing the Saudis, al­ways along with a dose of ben­e­fit of doubt. Thus, for in­stance, even though it is no se­cret and most Mus­lims know that the Saudis fi­nance the train­ing and arm­ing of ISIS, they give them the ben­e­fit of the doubt even though there is no doubt in this at all.

Even though they know that the Saudis bankrolled the re­cent de­struc­tion of the re­cent Arab Spring-inspired revo­lu­tion in Egypt, which, in spite of the naivety and tun­nel vi­sion of the even though there is no doubt about an act which was con­ducted in public.

And even though all Mus­lims know that the Saudis have con­cluded a de­fense and se­cu­rity pact with Is­rael, which is in oc­cu­pa­tion and con­trol of Palestine, in­clud­ing holy Masjid al-Aqsa and the sa­cred Dome of the Rock; and which also cu­ri­ously but not sur­pris­ingly, hap­pened to have been the first port of call of Deputy Crown Prince Mo­ham­mad Sal­man ibn Saud whose en­tourage has been ac­cused of trig­ger­ing the latest and worst stam­pede in the world.

Per­haps, it is not dif­fi­cult to see why this is so. Ac­cord­ing to Mus­lim belief, the Ka’aba is the House of God, but many of them out of ig­no­rance or syco­phancy, rou­tinely make the mis­take of ex­tend­ing these holy at­tributes also to those who for the time be­ing ex­er­cise tem­po­rary con­trol—or what they now call cus­to­di­an­ship— over the House, and for this rea­son, or for the money they col­lect from them, they have dif­fi­culty crit­i­ciz­ing con­duct in them that they se­verely crit­i­cize in oth­ers.

For this rea­son, many Mus­lims, some as a re­sult of their naivety and oth­ers be­cause they have been trained and paid to pro­mote this very view, are ter­ri­fied of crit­i­ciz­ing the Saudi regime be­cause it will ap­pear as if they are crit­i­ciz­ing God or His Ka’aba or His Prophet [SAW] or the re­li­gion of Is­lam. But this regime has noth­ing to do with God or Is­lam, be­cause, to be­gin with, cus­to­di­an­ship over the Ka’aba by it­self alone can­not con­fer Is­lamic cre­den­tials.

And this brings us to as­pects of their the­o­log­i­cal mind­set that is at the bot­tom of all this great mis­for­tune. First, we must ac­cept that an un­der­de­vel­oped, mis­placed, ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive shirk-pho­bia will never serve as a re­place­ment for the the­ol­ogy of and nor will a pam­phlet, de­scribed even by its in­volved trans­la­tor and one of its most en­er­getic pro­mot­ers as look­ing “like a stu­dent’s notebook’’, need­ing end­less emen­da­tions by suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tions of fol­low­ers to be­gin to look like a book, pro­vide the ba­sis for the found­ing of an Is­lamic school of thought.

The at­tempt has turned oth­er­wise ra­tio­nal peo­ple into spir­i­tual zom­bies and scrip­tural au­toma­tons, no longer ca­pa­ble of us­ing ei­ther God-given pow­ers of rea­son­ing and sim­ple logic. Their su­per­fi­cial lib­er­al­ism and sanc­ti­mo­nious book­ish­ness has ef­fec­tively turned the spirit and let­ter of Is­lamic law into a creed that de­nies its own premise, a con­clu­sion at vari­ance with the en­tirety of its own ar­gu­ments.

The en­tirety of the Hajj is the reen­act­ment and cel­e­bra­tion of a se­ries of his­tor­i­cal events con­nected with an in­di­vid­ual Prophet— Abra­ham (AS) and his fam­ily. It rep­re­sents the high­est level of strug­gle for af­firm­ing di­vine unity, re­al­iz­ing the unity of the Ummah and un­der­stand­ing–and, hope­fully, ac­cept­ing— the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing hu­man. Hajj is a pil­lar full of mean­ing but an arid the­ol­ogy in search of around ev­ery cor­ner has turned it into a dry set of rit­u­als. Per­haps the time has come to ex­or­cise its spirit from this the­o­log­i­cal bind.

We find among the rite of Hajj prayer and sup­pli­ca­tion at the Maqam Ibrahim, the spot with the foot­print of Abra­ham [AS], which the Qur’an com­manded the Holy Prophet [SAW] and us to take as a place of prayer. Thus, by the step of a Prophet, or­di­nary ground has be­come hal­lowed and con­se­crated.

Ac­cord­ingly, for us there­fore, each square foot of the streets of Mecca and Me­d­ina and all the other places the Holy Prophet was recorded to have vis­ited is, so to speak, a Maqam Muham­mad, and is wor­thy of our ven­er­a­tion, but be­cause its im­print has not been pre­served by God and the scene has been much al­tered by hu­man in­ter­fer­ence, we do not rush to take the streets of Mecca as laces for prayer. But it is clear that by hav­ing lived there, the Holy Prophet [SAW] had al­tered Mecca and Me­d­ina such that they could never be like other cities.

And, there­fore, if the foot­print of a Prophet could pos­sess such grace-giv­ing as made prayer ac­cept­able, that of the great­est Prophet would ob­vi­ously be even much more so. In Masji al-Nabawi, it is not the foot­print, it is not even the foot it­self but the en­tire blessed body of the Holy Prophet [SAW] that lies in per­ma­nent state. There is no place on earth more fit­ting for prayer and sup­pli­ca­tion than the pres­ence of this Prophet, yet these mis­er­able Saudi Wa­habi scholars say do­ing this is hid­ing be­hind this ploy a sub­tle be­lit­tling and spite for the best of cre­ations.

It is this atavis­tic ha­tred that is from time to time vis­ited on the pil­grims, fol­lowed by a de­nial of re­spon­si­bil­ity as in the un­fold­ing tragedy. Clearly, there is right now a des­per­ate at­tempt to cover up the real cause and the size of the ca­su­alty of the stam­pede. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the stam­pede, Saudi of­fi­cials tried to put the blame on pil­grims. Prince Khalid al-Faisal, chair­man of the king­dom’s Cen­tral Hajj Com­mit­tee, blamed “some pil­grims from African na­tion­al­i­ties.” Per­haps this was done with the hope of get­ting the non-black African and Asian coun­tries to sup­port the king­dom’s po­si­tion. When it be­came clear to them that more was needed than a cyn­i­cal ap­peal to racism, the story changed slightly; but with­out chang­ing the ba­sic blame game, Khalid al-Falih, Saudi health min­is­ter, said the stam­pede was caused by “pil­grims who didn’t fol­low in­struc­tions.”

For many, the Saudi blame game, de­nial of re­spon­si­bil­ity and pre­var­i­ca­tions were as painful as the stam­pede it­self. Many eye-wit­nesses blame the stam­pede on the Deputy Crown Prince who ar­rived with a 350-man strong es­cort; and, to en­able him cast his stones at the Ja­ma­rat, the flow of pil­grims was bar­ri­caded. This forced a back­ward flow of pil­grims and un­leashed a stam­pede un­par­al­leled in scope and in ca­su­al­ties. Eye­wit­nesses now speak of more than 2000 peo­ple dead. Luck­ily, ev­ery step of the tragedy had been caught on tape by so­cial media buffs; but the truth will fi­nally be known only af­ter the con­clu­sion of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion which King Sal­man him­self promised. Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Nayef has or­dered the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­ves­tiga­tive com­mis­sion to find out what hap­pened.

But with the lead­er­ship of Saudi Ara­bia ac­cused and spirit­edly put on the de­fen­sive, and a son of the king im­pli­cated by pre­lim­i­nary probes, this is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion the king­dom is not qual­i­fied to con­duct as an in­ter­nal af­fair. Un­less it is plan­ning a white­wash of its in­com­pe­tence and cul­pa­bil­ity, this in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee must be—and be seen to be—in­de­pen­dent, im­par­tial and multi­na­tional. And even more im­por­tantly, it must in­clude na­tions that are af­fected by the tragedy; oth­er­wise, its find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions will not be worth the pa­per on which they will be writ­ten. But what­ever the out­come of this probe, this tragedy should mark the end of Saudi mis­man­age­ment of the or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Hajj.

And the first thing to do is to stop them from fur­ther de­mol­ish­ing the Holy Prophet’s legacy. No one op­poses the ex­pan­sion of Masjid al-Haram if it is done in or­der to cre­ate room for ever-in­creas­ing mem­bers of pil­grims—but even at this, it can be done with­out eras­ing price­less Is­lamic mon­u­ments and ir­re­place­able his­tor­i­cal sites. But it is only done to cre­ate choice real es­tate for Western and Saudi Royal Fam­ily hote­liers to build ho­tels in the vicin­ity of the Ka’aba and erect ugly ar­chi­tec­tural mon­strosi­ties that dwarf and mock the House of God.

And in all the de­mo­li­tions, they should have pre­served what would re­mind Mus­lims of their Prophet and his times. But how does it sound to the Saudis now that the res­i­dence of Sayyidna Abubakar (RA) the first adult male Mus­lim,

one of two’ and the first Caliph of the Mus­lims, is now partly owned by Paris Hil­ton, ho­tel heiress and sex-tape porn star?

For longer-term so­lu­tion, the Mus­lim World should be­gin con­sid­er­ing tak­ing over the or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Hajj and the man­age­ment of the Hara­mayn from the Saudis. A steer­ing com­mit­tee made up of Egypt, Tur­key, Iran, Malaysia, In­done­sia—coun­tries with the most well-or­ga­nized Hajj schemes, with the high­est num­ber of pil­grims and with ca­pac­ity to do what is needed—and the Mus­lim Di­as­pora in the West should be set up to study the sit­u­a­tion and make rec­om­men­da­tions on how Mus­lims in the World will take over the con­duct of the Hajj.

With the skills, ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise avail­able with Mus­lim pro­fes­sion­als world­wide, it is not im­pos­si­ble to or­ga­nize and con­duct Hajj with­out a sin­gle ac­ci­dent-re­lated death. An ubiq­ui­tous, ef­fi­cient, friendly, multi­na­tional vig­i­lante group, learned in the of Hajj and covenant with the dy­nam­ics of crowd man­age­ment, as­sisted by an ICT-based in­stant mon­i­tor­ing-feed­back-con­trol sys­tem re­sponse, will be able to solve all the prob­lems caus­ing and wors­en­ing in­ci­dents of stam­pede.

Nat­u­rally, the Saudis will kick as will the Western pow­ers who ex­ploit the sit­u­a­tion and de­rive great ben­e­fit from the un­de­served pres­tige the cus­to­di­an­ship of Hara­mayn has con­ferred on them. But, un­der any cir­cum­stances, the Mus­lim World must in­sist on what is best for Is­lam and Mus­lims.

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