Hajj: Time for Muslim reflection

REUTERS Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand mosque during the annual hajj or pilgrimage in the … Continued


Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand mosque during the annual hajj or pilgrimage in the holy city of Meccaon Oct. 22, 2012, ahead of Eid al-Adha which marks the end of hajj.

Each and every year, nearly 3 million people from every corner of our planet travel on a two-week pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia where their pilgrimage (known in Arabic as the hajj) will culminate itself at Islam’s holiest site in the epicenter of the Muslim world. For many of the millions of Muslims making the pilgrimage, whose ethnic diversity includes old Pakistani men, Indonesian toddlers, young American women, Syrian newlyweds, Sudanese mothers and Bosnian fathers, the pilgrimage represents the spiritual zenith of their lifetimes. The annual gathering in Mecca also makes it one of the largest regular human congregations anywhere on the face of the earth every year.

The ancient rites of hajj have been passed down through the annals of Islamic history. It serves as a constant reminder of our human mortality and inherent fallibility. The different rites of hajj exemplify the plights of our beloved prophets over the centuries.


Muslim pilgrims pray outside the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 22, 2012.

During hajj, every Muslim’s focused aspirations is to re-enact the experiences of the prophet Abraham. It also symbolizes the lessons taught by Abraham’s son Ishmael, whose example of obedience and submission cannot be duplicated by any living being; and Islam’s final prophet, Muhammad, who firmly stood on the plains of Arafat and proclaimed the completion of his mission and the equality of all humanity during the last Friday sermon of his lifetime.

Undoubtedly the simplest, yet most profound message of hajj is the concept of the equality of all mankind. During the hajj, there is no superiority based on race, socioeconomic status or gender. Islam teaches that a person only excels over another in their piety and good deeds. As most Muslims know, there is never more equality within the Muslim world than at the hajj. Princes and paupers, sultans and street sweepers, all covered in the traditional white garb; invoke the mercy of God as they stand by side, equal and humbled in the eyes of their Creator.

Since the hajj is a time for reflection and prayer, I hope that the millions of Muslim pilgrims this year will pray for 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who had risen to prominence by passionately defending the right to education for girls and who was recently shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in the Swat valley of Pakistan. She miraculously survived the shooting and was flown to a London hospital where she “has been able to stand for the first time since the attack and is communicating by writing”, the British hospital recently reported only a few days ago.

View Photo Gallery: Millions of Muslims are expected to make this week’s annual pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca for the hajj. It is one of Islam’s greatest observances, and Muslims who are able are required to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

During this hajj season, I also hope that our Muslim pilgrims will pray for the millions of Syrian people who are being ruled and slaughtered by a ruthless dictator named Bashar al-Assad. Many Middle East observers fear that this civil war in Syria will now spill over into neighboring countries after the assassination of a Lebanese general in neighboring Beirut, Lebanon recently. Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, 47, was killed by a powerful car bomb in Beirut’s Ashrafiyeh district last week because he had helped uncover a bomb plot that led to the arrest and indictment in August of a pro-Damascus former Lebanese minister. He also led an investigation that implicated Syria and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in the assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005. Lebanese politicians have accused Syria’s leadership of having a role in Hassan’s killing, which has now deepened fears that the civil war there is spilling across Syrian borders.

At a time where many Americans only get glimpses of vocal Muslim protests against some idiotic anti-Islam video on YouTube (which prompted the ridiculous ‘Muslim Rage’ cover for Newsweek magazine which was mocked everywhere) within our Western media, it is also important for Americans to understand that millions of Muslims are also trying to better their communities by holding prayer vigils for a brave young schoolgirl from Pakistan or mobilizing to end the carnage of a Syrian dictator slaughtering his own people.

When Malcolm X went on his first hajj to Mecca, he famously wrote back to his followers in Harlem that there were “tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world…They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans…But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white…I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”

So as over 1.57 billion Muslims around the world celebrate the completion of the 2012 pilgrimage in Mecca, let us take a minute to remember those who are less fortunate than us; including an injured Pakistani schoolgirl and millions of innocent civilians in Syria who are dying needlessly around the world.

Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and author of “Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.”

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    If “millions of Muslims are also trying to better their communities by holding prayer vigils for a brave young schoolgirl from Pakistan” why don’t they substitute some action for those empty prayers and go and grab the Taliban responsible and hold them until the cops can arrest them. Deeds not words, dude.

  • aby2

    The plgrimage to Mecca is a mere ritual inherited from Pre-Islamic pagans of Arabia. The story behind it was adapted to fit the new faith.The Kaaba, the cubical structure which is the focal point of the routine, is one out of many that dots the Arabian Peninsula and all were used to house the idols of the many Arabian Gods.
    The phenomena was a compromise between the pagan merchants of Mecca who feared the loss of their business and the prophet of Islam.

  • allinonred

    Sorry I have no respect for a religion that utterly subjugates women, systemically.


    Enough of ALL of your mad dog cults called “religions”.

  • JimmyK

    That is a total fabrication. The truth of the matter is that Islam has elevated the status of women more than any other faith or political system. For example, women had inheritance rights 1400 years ago in Islam which is something enjoyed by the women in the west only recently.

  • c.l.shannon

    jimmy K – time to adjust the meds, you are suffering terminal denial.

  • JimmyK

    Shannon…I have clear historical proof behind my assertion. What do you have?

  • c.l.shannon

    reality – check the lived truth of women under islam. historically even their so-called prohet was little more than a pedophile – women were chattle to be used.
    of course, you might want to make your argument to a little 15 year old Pakistani girl – explaining to her how valued she is under islamic rule!

  • Secular1

    JimmyK this is in response to your comment above and one below. As teh saying goes “one swallow spring does not make” It is true that women were granted inheritance in islam way before in the west. Thats where it all stops. The so called inheritance you speak of is not equal to that teh males were granted. What about the polygamy being allowed and polyandry not allowed

    In the comment below you talk of pearls being offered to donkey, etc. What kind of pearl are you talking about. The pearls that do not add upto 100%, when you add all the fractions that are meted out of an inheritance. 21st century denizens do not need such pearls.

  • JimmyK

    Clearly, you need to separate out what some ignorant and illiterate people do from what Islam requires of them. Women subjugation, for example in the South Asia, comes from Hindu religion not Islam. The societies have retained many of the cultural traits even after they adopted their new faith. Many Christians in Haiti still practice Voodoo, does that mean Voodoo is part of that faith?

  • Secular1

    “Clearly, you need to separate out what some ignorant and illiterate people do from what Islam requires of them. Women subjugation, for example in the South Asia, comes from Hindu religion not Islam.” really JimmyK? The utter subjugation of women in all the 47 dar-ul-islams, bar none is hindhu influence eh!. What about teh verses in al kitab on inheritance that does not add up to 100% must be Confusian influence i suppose.

    JimmyK your MO of projection is well understood. If you have any counter arguments maje them otherwise it would be wise on your part not to validate to the world that you are one empty suit.

  • tianxiang69

    “Undoubtedly the simplest, yet most profound message of hajj is the concept of the equality of all mankind. During the hajj, there is no superiority based on race, socioeconomic status or gender. ” At least the author was honest in not bringining up equality of all religions. (And yes, I did notice he specified “during the Hajj” but the point remains the same.) Yes, there is equality supposedly within the Muslim community. But, it is obvious from any reading of the Quran, the hadith, the sira, or just good old history books, that the concept of equality of all people does not extend to the Infidels. But, it should also be noted that many non-Arab Muslims do actually complain that they are looked down on by Arab Muslims. This is not perhaps attributable to anything in the Quran, but it is certainly a fact in the actual world which is allegedly based in large part on the fact that Islam was started by an Arab in the Arabian peninsula.

    It is also interesting to reflect a bit on the focus of what the author wishes people on the Hajj should be praying for. It is worth noting that the suffering of non-Muslims does not warrant a mention; it is only when Muslims are suffering that it matters. But, this should not be surprising to anyone who is paying attention.

  • peter melian

    Rregardless our beliefs and hopes. There cannot be truly religious or political equality amongst peoples of all races in the whole world as long as there is no economical equality.

  • PithyOpiner

    So, that is today? Does President Obama have anything doing today relative to the campaign? Just wonderin’…….

  • fcs25

    What the Muslims “reflect” on is world domination not their values and human concerns.The Islamic religion requires complete world domination in order to be true.

  • svidetic

    Time for fans of Snow White and all the other fairy tales. the joy of our children, Muslims are just our children.

  • svidetic

    children do not do the market, muslim also.

  • c.l.shannon

    looks like we’ll be waiting a heck of a long time for religious and political equality then – because economic equality is eons away. maybe you ought to think about an intermediate plan.


    There will never be economic equality because too many are happy just to pick the lowest fruit! Militant muslims by the millions will assure there will never be peace either!


    I’ll second the bad meds comment!

  • Bill1776

    There is no peace with Islam! If they are not killing non-believers they are killing each other.
    Obama is placing Muslims in the state department and home land security.
    He is dumping Muslim refugees in Nashville, Atlanta and other Bible belt areas to bust the Bible belt.
    In Muslim countries the secular governments Obama is helping to destroy will be replaced with more radical Islam governments that will kill Christians, burn churches and come up against Israel and the world.

    THE ATTACK ON OUR EMBASSY IN LIBYA WAS OBAMA’S FAULT: The attack on our embassy in Libya happened because the government was not stable. The same thing happened in Iran after Jimmy Carter threw the Shah of Iran under the bus.
    Although Libya was no threat to us Obama used the US Air force to help destroy the secular government paid for with our tax dollars and loans from other countries that we have to pay tax on.