by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 7, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1438)
Allah (swt) has outlined all the obligations of Muslims in the noble Qur’an. These relate to both individual as well as collective responsibilities. The Prophet’s Sunnah (life-example) and Sirah (life-history) provide a practical example. Most Muslims are aware of these obligations. Those sincerely committed to Allah perform them to the best of their abilities.
Take the example of salah, the five daily prayers that Muslims perform throughout their adult life. The times of day they must be performed are mentioned in the noble Qur’an (17:78; 11:114; 30:17–18). It was the noble Messenger (pbuh) who showed us the method of the performance of salah.
The same applies to other obligations, especially Hajj — the pilgrimage to Baytullah (the House of Allah) in Makkah that every Muslim, male or female, must perform once in his/her lifetime. The only condition is that they must have the means to do so (3:97). The “means” relate to financial as well as physical ability to be able to perform this ‘ibadah, which may require a long journey away from one’s abode to Makkah, lasting several weeks or even months. The Qur’an says that Hajj is to be performed over a period of months, “Hajj is in the well-known months…” declares the noble Qur’an (2:197).
Unfortunately, there are numerous problems with how Muslims are forced to perform Hajj. Since Bani Saud, aided and abetted by British colonialists, occupied nearly 100 years ago the Hijaz, where Makkah and Madinah (referred to as the Haramayn) are located, they have deliberately set out to divest Hajj of its Qur’anic content. It starts with the Saudi regime imposing visa restrictions for Hajj even though Allah (swt) has issued an open invitation to all mankind (3:97), not just to Muslims. The only exception is the mushriks, who are prohibited from coming close to the Haram (9:17) because they are najas (impure) and avowed enemies of Allah.
The Saudi regime has also imposed a quota system for each country. They allow only two million Muslims to perform Hajj each year. Given that there are nearly two billion Muslims in the world, an average Muslim must live for 1,000 years before getting a chance to fulfill his religious obligation! Why have Muslims accepted such gross violations of Allah’s commands?
Let us remind ourselves of what Allah (swt) says in the noble Qur’an,
Hence, [O Prophet], proclaim to all the people the [duty of] pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every [kind of] fast mount, coming from every faraway point [on earth], so that they might experience much that shall be of benefit to them, and that they might extol the name of Allah on the days appointed [for sacrifice]… (22:27).
Allah has extended an open invitation to all mankind to perform Hajj. There is no requirement of a visa or other man-made impediments. How can there be when the issue is the performance of one’s obligations required by the din of Islam? Yet surrendering to this un-Islamic practice of obtaining a visa to go to Makkah to perform Hajj, Muslims have accepted the supremacy of the nation-state structure and occupation of the Arabian Peninsula by Bani Saud and set aside the commands of Allah even if inadvertently. This is not only a mega-bid‘ah that amounts to shirk — displacing Allah’s authority and dominion to His temporal rivals — it is also the gravest sin a person can commit (31:13).
Little or no attention is paid to the fact that the Holy Land and in particular the Hijaz, is not the private property of a family or clan. The Haramayn are the common heritage of the entire Muslim Ummah, hence the responsibility to protect them (Makkah and Madinah) also falls on the Muslims. This includes administration of the two holy cities that cannot be left in the hands of an incompetent, extremely arrogant, and morally bankrupt family, which has illegally occupied the Holy Land.
Saudi occupation of the Haramayn is bad enough; it is made worse by the fact that Bani Saud are agents of imperialism and Zionism. They no longer even try to hide this fact. Thus, in reality, the Haramayn are as occupied by the Zionists and imperialists as is al-Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. This explains why there is little peace or security in a place that Allah (swt) has designated as the most secure place on earth and a sanctuary for refugees escaping persecution anywhere in the world.
By its very nature, Makkah is the abode of those seeking sanctuary. Ibrahim (a) was the first refugee to settle his family there. Following in his footsteps, Makkah should be the refuge for all oppressed people of the world. Is it a place of refuge today?
Far from it; instead, Makkah has become a very insecure place for Muslims. In addition to the frequent horrors that occur because of Saudi incompetence (the crane collapse inside the Haram and the crush in Mina in 2015 resulting in thousands of deaths, for instance), armed Saudi guards insult, humiliate, and terrorize the hujjaj who are the guests of Allah (swt). Muslims do not perform Hajj for the sake of Bani Saud but to fulfill their obligation to extend divine sanctuary to all those who need it worldwide. So why should those who are pursuing this lofty objective be subjected to such insults by a bunch of uncouth Bedouins?
Muslims must seriously consider how they can rectify this situation by bringing the Hajj back to its original divine purpose. It starts with the vast majority of Muslims being denied the opportunity to perform Hajj. This is compounded by the fact that Bani Saud have priced it out of the means of the vast majority of Muslims who can barely make ends meet.
Hajj has been turned into a five-star experience for the tiny affluent minority. While the Qur’an states that it is ordained for those with the ability to perform it (22:27), Bani Saud say only those with lots of cash can come. Further, while Hajj is supposed to be the annual assembly of the Ummah where free intermingling and exchange of ideas should take place, Bani Saud have compartmentalized it and divided Muslims according to their nationalities. Muslims are restricted from intermingling and exchanging ideas with other Muslims. This wasn’t the case even during the days of jahiliyah. The mushriks of Makkah had a better sense of responsibility and adherence to Hajj practices than the supposedly Muslim Bani Saud.
While opposed to the Prophet and his message, the mushriks did not prevent the noble Messenger (pbuh) from communicating his message to other pilgrims. Today, Muslims are forbidden from communicating with fellow Muslims about the issues affecting them or discussing matters pertaining to Islam. All such discussions are strictly forbidden. Why?
Bani Saud’s most grievous sin is their proscription of expressing bara’ah min al-mushrikin (open and public declaration of dissociation from the mushriks) as commanded by Allah (swt) in the noble Qur’an (9:03). As guests of Allah, they are required to turn completely to Allah and reject all other powers and this should be done publicly at the time of Hajj. In the ninth year of the Hijrah, when the first 12 ayat of Surah al-Tawbah were revealed, the noble Messenger (pbuh) immediately dispatched Imam ‘Ali (ra) to Makkah. Muslims had already set out from Madinah for Makkah under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra). The Prophet instructed Imam ‘Ali to proclaim these ayat and public dissociation from the mushrikin at the time of Hajj.
Today, Bani Saud say the hujjaj must not obey Allah’s commands or the Prophetic Sunnah (nastaghfir-allah). They call it “politicizing” the Hajj. “The Kingdom categorically rejects that the Hajj serves any political purpose,” the old, demented Saudi King Salman had declared in a brief address to international VIPs on September 13, 2016. On what authority did this man make such a declaration?
Hajj is supposed to obliterate all distinctions of class and wealth yet the Saudi monarch arranges special programs for “international VIPs.” Who are these VIPs and how do they assume such a position even while claiming to be performing Hajj, the great leveler of humanity? Are they unaware of the Qur’anic ayah (49:13) that mentions taqwa, not power or wealth, that determines a person’s standing with Allah (swt)?
Let us pursue the king’s declaration that Hajj should serve “no political purpose.” While Bani Saud have politicized Hajj for their own narrow sectarian/political agenda by prohibiting disavowal from the mushriks of today — imperialists and Zionists — they demand that committed Muslims cannot perform Hajj according to the commands of Allah (swt). Can Salman or any of his court ‘ulama’ cite one ayah of the Qur’an or one hadith of the noble Messenger (pbuh) that would support their contention?
Muslims, especially those endowed with knowledge and understanding, must seriously reflect on how Islamic practices have been emptied out of their true meaning and turned into meaningless rituals. If the Muslim world is suffering so much today, it is primarily because Muslims have abandoned their responsibility toward Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh) and have neglected the true spirit of Hajj. It is time the committed Muslims take this responsibility seriously and bring an end to Bani Saud’s illegal occupation of the Haramayn and the Arabian Peninsula. So long as this immoral, greedy, and cruel family is in control of the most sacred places of Islam, Muslims are unlikely to see an end to their misery and suffering.
It is time to return Hajj to its prophetic path so that Muslims can assume their proper place of honor in the world, “Honour and glory belong only to Allah and His Messenger and those who are sincere in their commitment to Allah. But of this, the munafiqs are not aware” (63:08).