by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 10, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1429)
An estimated two million Muslims from around the world will converge on Makkah this month for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj. There are many dimensions to this most challenging of ‘ibadaat. ZAFAR BANGASH, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought sheds light on some aspects that have been virtually forgotten as part of a deliberate policy to ritualize and therefore, trivialize Hajj.
Hajj is physically the most demanding of all the ‘ibadaat in Islam. It requires not only the performance of certain acts of worship but also a journey away from home leaving kith and kith behind for several weeks. Hajj is both a journey in obedience as well as a conscious act of political defiance against taghoot (concentration and abuse of power by illegitimate authority). It is a constant struggle against the material temptations of this world in order to achieve nearness to Allah (swt) by totally yielding to His Will. It is also an enormously rewarding experience; the noble Messenger of Allah (saws) has said that a person whose Hajj is accepted is, like a new-born baby, cleansed of all sins. To achieve the acceptance of one’s Hajj, however, requires unconditional and total conformity to Allah (swt), uncontaminated by worldly desires or fears. That is why the hajji is called upon to recite the talbiyah both individually as well as collectively: “Labayka Allahuma labayk, labayka la sharika laka labayk; inna al-hamda laka wa-al-mulk, laa sharika lak” (Here we come O Lord, in answer to Your call, here we come. You have no rivals [O Allah], here we come. Yours is the praise and Yours is the dominion. You have no competitor).
The talbiyah is not merely a proclamation that we utter with our tongues; it requires our consummate dedication to Allah (swt) by turning away from all the worldly authority that continually impedes our journey to Him. The ihram — the two pieces of unstitched cloth — that male pilgrims are required to wear when they leave Makkah for Mina and ‘Arafat, the Day of Hajj, is a powerful reminder of the Day of Judgment when every individual shall stand before Allah (swt) to account for his/her deeds on earth. The gathering at ‘Arafat is akin to the gathering on the Day of Judgment and the donning of ihram symbolizes the shroud in which Muslims wrap their dead for burial. Thus, the Day of ‘Arafat is meant to turn a Muslim’s attention away from this world and focus it exclusively on Allah (swt) to beseech His mercy, attention and forgiveness. This can only be done by realizing clearly that only Allah (swt) is the sole Power and Authority and that only His Laws must be implemented on earth.
This awareness, however, is sadly lacking among most Muslims today. This is both the consequence of Muslim history as well as part of a deliberate policy to turn all aspects of the deen of Islam into rituals. Historically, when Muslims were the dominant power, an attitude was actively encouraged by the rulers and their courtiers that there was no longer a need to proclaim the committed Muslims’ dissociation from the mushriks and kafirs as commanded by Allah (swt) in the noble Qur’an (9:1-18). This, they argued, was due to the fact that Muslims were already in power; thus the conditions under which such dissociation was proclaimed did not apply. While this was a flawed interpretation of the divine message as Muslims must always guard against falling into the trap of taghoot, the fact is that Muslims are no longer in a dominant position today. Their societies are controlled and manipulated directly or indirectly by taghoot; thus the above Qur’anic command is especially applicable to the situation of Muslims today. Yet the present rulers of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, collectively referred to as the Haramain, expressly forbid any expression of dissociation from the mushriks.
The ritualization of the various aspects of deen is part of the same phenomenon. By placing greater emphasis on rituals, Muslims are led to believe that these are all they are required to do. If they perform the rituals of salah in a particular way, for instance, then they have fulfilled their obligations, quite oblivious of the fact that salah is derived from the Arabic root, sila, meaning link. Thus, it is a Muslim’s link with his Creator, Allah (swt). Similarly, salah is supposed to be a great leveler. When Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder to offer salah, they are making a political statement: they stand as equals before Allah (swt). An individual’s wealth, position or power are irrelevant from the Islamic point of view but ask an average Muslim about the significance of salah and he is likely to draw a blank. This aspect of salah has been deliberately kept out of his purview. In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) commands the Muslims to institutionalize/standardize salah, “Who have confidence in [the existence of] that which is beyond the reach of human perception, and who establish salah, and who spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance” (2:03). Institutionalizing salah means that the simple act of communion with Allah (swt) is followed up by societal institutions that formalize and actualize Allah’s (swt) command. In another ayah, Allah (swt) says, “…And establish the salah, for indeed, the salah restrains [man] from loathsome deeds and [society] from all that runs counter to what is universally understood to be right…” (29:45). This means that any act of individual devotion not redeemed by social and socializing activism that withholds society from deviating away from Allah’s (swt) recommendations is hollow, one-dimensional and ceremonial. Every Islamic ritual has a social and political component; every devotional act, of conditioning the human will with Allah’s (swt) Will, performed by an ordinary Muslim must end with tangible benefit for the society at large. Otherwise there is something missing. It is easy for a human being to become so deeply engrossed in the material pursuits of life that he may forget his purpose and mission in life. It is for this reason that he must regularly reconnect with Allah (swt) through the simple but powerful act of salah five times a day.
Hajj is an even more powerful way to connect with Allah (swt) both through words and deeds, and at a time and place chosen by Allah (swt). It is an open invitation from the Creator to His servants calling them to make the journey to His House (the Ka‘bah) “for those who have the means and the ability to do so” (3:97). Yet today, this open invitation from the Creator to His faithful servants has been severely curtailed by the occupiers of the Haramain — the House of Saud — who insist that only a limited number (one percent of every Muslim country’s population) can perform Hajj each year because they do not have the ability to control the flow of such massive crowds or to accommodate them in appropriate facilities. It is a clear admission by the House of Saud that they are too incompetent to cater to the needs of the guests of Allah (swt). Surely, they do not own the Haramain; they happen to be in control because of colonial intrigue and a dalliance with imperialism. They do not have any special qualities or rights to be in control. This is an issue that requires serious consideration by the Islamic movement and the Ummah.
It is also not without reason that the performance of Hajj has been reduced to a mechanical exercise in which most hajjis do not even know why Allah (swt) wants them to go through such a physically and financially demanding exercise. Is there any other purpose beyond visiting the House of Allah (swt), going to Mina and ‘Arafat for a specified number of days? No doubt visiting the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, staying in the tent city of Mina and standing in ‘Arafat are richly rewarding experiences; how many of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will have this honor in their lifetime? But is that all that is required of Muslims?
Clearly we must ask: what is the real purpose of Hajj and is it being realized at present? If not, what factors are involved in preventing Muslims from grasping its true significance, based on the teachings of the Qur’an and the life-struggle of Prophets Ibrahim and Muhammad (saws) whose Sunnah the Muslims are trying to follow by performing Hajj? Why is each and every Muslim who has the ability, physically and financially, required to perform the Hajj? Or said another way, why is it not appropriate for a large group of Muslims to commission one representative to perform the Hajj on their behalf?
Hajj is the re-enactment of the struggles of Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail (as). But we must also remember that Ibrahim (as) was a rebel against the power of taghoot in his native land. For rejecting his people’s false gods and illegitimate authorities, and for rebelling against the jahili system prevalent at the time, he was thrown into Nimrod’s fire — a fire that was made cool by the miraculous hand of Allah (swt). This is an indication that anyone who strives against the institutions of injustice and oppression, in the manner of Ibrahim and the larger community of Prophets (saws), can expect the same miraculous hand of Allah (swt) in their company. Are we prepared to rebel against the taghoots of our time, or are we content with simply indulging in the rituals of Hajj without understanding the struggle of Ibrahim (as) or reliving it?
There are two other aspects of Hajj that demand attention. First, Hajj is the grand annual assembly of the Ummah, unmatched by any other event in history. It is meant to reflect the unity of the Ummah. Although Muslims gather from all parts of the world for Hajj, the vast majority go there and return home quite oblivious of the plight of their fellow Muslims. This is a great opportunity wasted. Allah (swt) wants us to get to know each other; Hajj provides a perfect occasion to do so yet most Muslims perform Hajj in the company of millions of fellow Muslims but remain totally oblivious of their problems or suffering.
This is not accidental; such an attitude has been fostered deliberately. To understand how Muslims have fallen into this, we need to examine recent history. At the beginning of the last century, the British and French competed for control of the Middle East. The British had realized the significance of the Hijaz, especially the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah that were administered by the Uthmani khilafah (Ottoman Empire). Politically astute, they knew these two cities are important places for mobilizing Muslims. A British officer, Captain R.F Burton, who later became famous as Sir Richard Burton, had expressed concern as early as the 1850s that Makkah and Madinah could be used to propagate ideas that are hostile to Britain, which had already colonized large parts of the Muslim world. This was spelled out even more clearly by the British Consul General in Jeddah, a person named Zohrab. In a message to the Foreign Office in London in 1902, he wrote, “The point of real importance to England politically, I believe is that Hijaz is the focal point of Muslim thought and the nucleus from which radiate ideas, advice, instructions and dogmatic implications… The Hijaz is also a point of much political importance to England and its relations with India… [Certain persons] I am persuaded proceed on the Hajj for political reasons. Makkah being free of European intrusion is safe ground on which gatherings can be held, and ideas exchanged. Up to the present time we have kept no watch on those who come and go… Thus meetings may be convened at Makkah at which combinations hostile to us may form without our knowing anything till the shell bursts in our midst… If this Consulate could have a trusted Mussalman agent in Makkah, I believe a great deal of valuable intelligence could be obtained” (al-Amr, Saleh Muhammad: The Hijaz under Ottoman Rule: 1869-1914: Ottoman Vali, the Sharif of Mecca and the Growth of British Influence, Riyadh, 1978, pp.171-4). The British consul general’s warnings were taken so seriously in London that soon Britain had not one but two trusted “Mussalman” agents serving it in the Arabian Peninsula. One was Sharif Husain ibn Ali of Makkah, who had been appointed by the Turks as governor of the Hijaz in November 1908; the the other was Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, patriarch of the present-day kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Both were paid £5,000 sterling per month and a lump sum of £20,000 annually, according to a March 2, 1922 statement by Winston Churchill, then British Secretary for the Colonies, in the House of Commons. The two British agents first undermined Turkish rule in the Arabian Peninsula, and later fought each other for control of the Hijaz. Abdul Aziz ibn Saud with his bedouin hordes turned out to be more ruthless and was successful in driving Sharif Husain out of the Hijaz.
In order to placate Husain, the British carved out Trans-Jordan from the Turkish province of Palestine (which they had occupied in 1918) and placed one of Sharif Husain’s sons, Abdullah, on its throne; his other son, Faisal, was handed control of Syria. Faisal was driven out of there but the British made him king of Iraq, which they also controlled. Even that did not last long; Iraqi Ba‘ath nationalists murdered his grandson Faisal II and the hopes of Husain’s family to rule the entire Arabian Peninsula were dashed. It was left in control of Jordan only, where it continues to this day, under the pompous title of “the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan,” though it is little more than a US-zionist colony serving the interests of the enemies of Islam.
The brigand Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who had made his mark by robbing pilgrims’ caravans, consolidated his grip on the entire Arabian Peninsula, including the Hijaz, by 1932, thanks to British military and financial help. He named it “Saudi” Arabia in complete violation of the Prophet’s Sunnah; he (saws) had named this blessed land the Arabian Peninsula. Abdul Aziz and Aal-Saud continued to act as British agents until the Second World War and then transferred their loyalty to Washington once the US emerged as a major power on the world stage. As part of its duties, the House of Saud prevents any activity at the time of Hajj that would lead to criticism of US policies. The Saudis serve their American masters rather than Allah (swt). This explains why Muslims are prevented from using Hajj as a unifying force for the Ummah or as an occasion to find solutions to their many problems.
We should also bear in mind that while the House of Saud treats the Arabian Peninsula, including Makkah and Madinah, as family property, refusing to heed Mus-lim advice on the status and administration of the Haramain, this was not always the case. Until 1957 the Nawab of Hyder-abad Deccan paid an annual subsidy of £25 million for the maintenance of Makkah and Madi-nah and for services to the hajjis. Oil had been discovered in the Arabian Penin-sula much earlier, but Western oil companies paid such a pittance that the House of Saud could not afford proper maintenance of the Haramain without outside help. It was only after 1957 that they started to bear the costs on their own. What this shows is that the Ummah has never recognized the Haramain as the private property of Aal- Saud; they are illegitiamte occupiers of the holy places and have caused much damage to them.
Under the pretext of providing “better services” to the hajjis, the historic sites of Makkah and Madinah have been systematically disfigured and destroyed. In their place has emerged Western-style mercantilism akin to the over-commercialization of Christmas in America. There are five-star hotels and shopping malls with such American food-chains as Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks (which has a goddess on its logo and can be seen directly from the Haram!) and McDonald’s that sell “halal” fast-food catering to the tastes of westernized Muslims while simultaneously despoiling the spiritual environments of Makkah and Madinah. Makkah has suffered the greatest destruction; not only buildings but entire mountains are being wiped out. Can the demolition of Madinah be far behind? Throughout the world people preserve their historic sites as cherished monuments; the House of Saud is busy obliterating the historic sites of Islam. Today there is no trace of the house where the Prophet (saws) was born or of the house where he lived with Umm al-Mu’mineen Khadija (ra) in Makkah. The latter has been turned into a toilet. Madinah’s historic sites have suffered similar destruction. By contrast, relics that promote and project the history of the House of Saud are carefully preserved.
In addition to the physical destruction of Makkah and Madinah , there is an equally insidious attempt underway to empty the Hajj of its true divine content and meaning. Allah (swt) commands in the Qur’an that during Hajj, Muslims must proclaim their dissociation, baraa’a, from the mushriks, “And a proclamation from Allah and His Apostle [is herewith made] unto all mankind on this day of the Greatest Pilgrimage, ‘Allah disavows all who ascribe divinity/authority to any beside Him, and [so does] His Apostle. Hence, if you repent, it shall be for your own good; and if you turn away, then know that you can never elude Allah!’ And unto those who are bent on denying the truth give you [O Prophet] the tiding of grievous chastisement” (9:3). These ayat were revealed in the ninth year of the Hijrah when the Muslims, led by Abu Bakr (ra), had already left Madinah for Makkah to perform Hajj. The Prophet (saws) immediately dispatched Imam Ali (ra) to proclaim these ayat at the time of Hajj. This open and clear dissociation from the mushriks is a Qur’anic command, yet under the weight of official dogma and historical perversion it has been abandoned and almost totally forgotten. One must ask why so few ulama draw attention to this important command of the Qur’an. In fact, these ayat are seldom or never mentioned in the context of Hajj. Why? Are Muslims not suffering grievously at the hands of the present-day mushriks — the rulers of America, Britain, France, Israel, India and others? If the answer is yes (and there is no other answer), why is the occasion of Hajj not used to mobilize the Ummah to defend Muslims from the crimes of the enemies of Islam? How much more suffering must Muslims endure before the Hajj can be restored to its proper role: a unique annual focal point for asserting the unity of the Ummah, commitment to the cause of Allah, and our determination to stand against all the oppressive forces in the world, in line with Divine command and the example of Allah’s Messenger (saws)? The plight of the people of Palestine and the continued occupation of al-Quds by the zionists, the horrendous crimes being perpetrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya, and other atrocities elsewhere, make it imperative that the Hajj be used as an occasion to mobilize Muslims against the enemies of Islam and the Ummah.
Further in the tenth year of the Hijrah, when the Prophet (saws) gave his farewell address, it is significant to note that he communicated to the assembled Muslims the major points of their deen, those points in a nutshell they were to carry to all humanity, while he was at the Hajj — his only Hajj after he had migrated to Madinah. He talked in broad and specific terms about the Islamic personality, and about the meaning of social and economic justice. The farewell message was part and parcel of the earlier rituals of Hajj; meaning that no Hajj should be complete without this kind of invocation — an invocation that was sealed with the statement, “I have left amongst you that which if you grasp onto it [with all] firmness [and strength], you will never be led in the wrong direction: the Book of Allah and the my example.” Intellectuals in the peninsula have almost gone crazy over the Sunnah, elevating it in importance above the Qur’an itself. Well, what about this Sunnah: of talking about social justice at the Hajj, of taking to task those who would cast economic slavery upon the world’s masses by institutionalizing riba, of deligitimizing democratization as a cover for mass murder, of honoring the property rights of those who have been forcibly settled and squatted upon, of mobilizing the half of the world’s population whose human and natural rights are continually abused, and of terminating the cancer of racism and militarism? What’s wrong with Muslims leaders performing Hajj along with their constituencies? What’s wrong with these leaders providing guidance and delivering words of wisdom, responsibility, inspiration and motivation to a flock desperately in need at a time when they are all gathered in mass? Who, other than Allah (swt), could have manufactured such a forum, made to order so to speak, for Muslim leaders to address their people? Has anyone thought about how hard it is to assemble any large number of people for any sort of socially conscious and consciousness-building event? This is because those who rule in Muslim lands are neither leaders, nor guides. This is why they hide in their presidential palaces or take convenient vacations during the Hajj to their villas on the Riviera. This is why they, on the odd occasion, perform their executive Hajj by clearing out the Haram so that they can do their tawaf and sa‘i far away from public view and far away from the well-deserved condemnation and repulsion they would receive from the suffering masses of Muslims in this world.
Hajj requires Muslim leaders to stand up in front of the Muslim rank and file. Hajj requires them to be accountable for their actions on this annual occasion. Who among us is thinking about holding our leaders accountable at least once a year? Who among us is thinking about doing this on the Hajj? Who among us could suggest that it is part of the Prophetic Sunnah that attendance at the Hajj is mandatory for at least some Muslim leaders? Consider the following example. After the death of the Prophet (saws) when the Muslims were in the middle of their first major internal political crisis during the end of Uthman’s (ra) reign as the third khalifah, three delegations, comprising 600 members each, came from Kufa, Basra and Egypt during the Hajj to discuss the problems of the Ummah face-to-face with the leader of the Muslims. When was the last time that the air of brotherhood was so sanguine between leaders and led that an ordinary Muslim could address his leader without the threat of jail or immediate retribution from a praetorian guard? When was the last time that a head-of-state of a superpower made himself available free of the state security apparatus to his constituents? When was the last time the Hajj occasioned a wide-ranging discussion of problems of instability and degradation in various parts of the Ummah and reached a set of strategic objectives that needed to be satisfied?
This is because a positive relationship of trust and deliberation between Muslim leaders and Muslims masses is supposed to have an impact on the world. And the Hajj venue is supposed to be a demonstration of that fact. Allah (swt) says about the original purpose of the First House designated for Allah (swt), “Behold, the first Temple ever set up for mankind was indeed the one at Bakkah: rich in blessing, and a [source of] guidance unto all the worlds,” (3:96). What starts as an activity among those who are securely committed to Allah (swt) ends as a blessing and guidance for all creation; this means that a proper relationship between Muslim brothers (leaders and led especially) provides a harmonizing and balancing impact on the rest of creation. Over the past several decades, the Hajj has grown steadily from several thousand attendees to several tens of thousands, to now millions of attendees. With this rise in the numbers of the faithful attending Allah’s (swt) house, has the world seen an accompanying diminution in the numbers of its hungry, in the numbers of its dispossessed, in the numbers of its poor, in the numbers of its disease-stricken, in the numbers of its refugees, in the numbers of its debt-ridden, and in the numbers of its scared and fearful? So what is the contrast between the annual Hajj of millions and the Hajj of the Prophet (saws) or the Hajj of the khalifahs (ra)? Why is it that as the number of Muslim hajjis grows from year to year, the number of suffering people in the world also multiplies? Should it not be the other way around? What is missing is the post-ritual socialization of the large mass of gathered Muslims into a program of social activism to restore a balance of social justice in the world and to provide a harmonizing blessing upon the rest of creation. This requires leaders to organize a program; this requires leaders and led to break bread together. And once again, the Hajj in part represents a global conference to this effect. Does not Allah (swt) punctuate this set of ayat in Surah Aali-‘Imran with, “Let there be amongst you an [authoritative advocacy] team that facilitates prosperity [deriving from] a command to do [what is universally understood to be] right and a command to deconstruct [what is universally understood to be] wrong; and it is they who are the successful.” (9:104)
Lastly, Allah (swt) says, “In it (the First Temple) are evident manifestations [of Allah’s power] and one of them is the position of Ibrahim; and whoever entered it, he was secure. And from all of humanity, it is a due to [be discharged for] Allah that those who are able to perform the Hajj should do so; and as for those who deny [humanity this right of performing the Hajj], indeed Allah is not in need of anything from all the worlds” (3:97). The Muslims are expected to be in a state of health, financially and physically, in order to discharge this “once-in-a-lifetime” responsibility. They are to have discharged all outstanding debts as well as to have the muscular vigor to withstand the rigors of the Hajj journey. Is this Prophetic counsel only given so that Muslims can speedily run through the rituals of Hajj and emerge from the process like a true new-born, without debt and sinless? Are the physically and financially vigorous supposed to go to Hajj simply to go through a set of rituals and then go home as if their communal responsibilities are over? Is Hajj a social event or one that is simply attended by two million individuals? It is evident from the meaning of the ayah and the counsel of Allah’s Messenger (saws) that two of the major deterrents to visiting Allah’s House are debt and infirmity. It appears in the world today that those who have physical strength and youthful vigor are saddled with debt, while those who have successfully discharged their lifetime debt are in their “senior” years. Neither demographic is able to discharge this duty in the way they ought to although because of the once-in-a-lifetime religious obligation, as the reductionist Muslim mind seems to present it, the elderly find a way to go and complete the mission. Debt and disease are supposed to be an aberration in the life of any Muslim following Allah’s (swt) counsel and the example of the Prophet (saws); they are not be a perennial fact of life. Why is this the case?
Allah (swt) has not left the answer to our imaginations; it is in the next two ayat, Say, “O followers of earlier revelation! Why do you refuse to acknowledge the truth of Allah’s messages, when Allah is witness to all that you do?” Say, “O followers of earlier revelation! Why do you [endeavor to] bar those who have come to commit [to this divine writ] from the path of Allah by trying to make it appear crooked, when you yourselves bear witness [to its being straight]? For, Allah is not unaware of what you do” (3:98-99). The use of the word kufr in these ayat refers back to the previous ayah, 3:97; to clarify what is already clear in the original Arabic, why do you, Ahl al-Kitab, put obstacles in the way of those who would go to Allah’s House to receive his divine instructions? What are these obstacles? We already know of the worldwide financial crisis; Muslims are affected by it more acutely than anyone else. If you cannot afford to buy your own food, you are not going to be thinking about going to Hajj. There is also the security crisis around the peninsula. To the west, there is the conflagarations in Somalia and Sudan; to the north, there is the occupation of Palestine and Iraq, not to mention the constant agitation is Lebanon, Jordan and Syria; to the east, there are the continuing economic sanctions and saber rattling against the Islamic Republic, and also the occupation of Afghanistan along with the destabilization of Pakistan; and to the south, there is the new threat of piracy on the high seas. Then of course, there are the remnants of colonialism that are now sustained by American and European imperialism: the nation state model along with its endemic structural weight in the form of visa restrictions and quotas placed upon poor Muslims. These are all related to the way Ahl al-Kitab has managed the world for the past four centuries. Are all of these a coincidence? Or is this the way that the dominant Judeo-Christian power culture in the world wants it? Could it be that the massive debt imposed on the world’s people, the nation-state monstrosity, and the constantly unstable security situation in the Islamic East are to prevent Muslims of vigor and vitality from receiving instructions of liberation and freedom from Allah (swt) at the Hajj?
The debt free and the vigorous are required to attend Hajj every year because it is they who are in the best position to go back and make the much needed changes. They are the ones who are physically capable of withstanding the rigors of promoting truth and justice; they are the ones whose energies and work are not sucked away in paying off loans. They are the ones who have a free and liberated conscience to concentrate on the greater work of what is destabilizing the world around them. They are the ones who are required to attend the Hajj and receive instructions for action, restitution and revolution; they are the ones who are required to execute divine commands when they get back home. Makkah is the engine, the Qur’an and the Sunnah are the spark, and the attending Muslims are the pistons that explode into a flurry of activity against the global power of corruption, oppression, imperialism, Zionism, materialism, militarism, corporatism, atheism, and organized crime. This realignment and reharmonization of man’s world with the balance of creation is to take place at least once a year; and spirited, robust Muslims are the catalyst.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the ritualization (and therefore trivialization) of Hajj and the imposition of Western-style architecture on the sacred environment of the Haramain. Both are meant to keep Muslims distracted by mundane things — rituals at Hajj and consumerism of the worst kind in the marketplace — so that Muslims will have no time or attention left for reflection or to find solutions to the problems facing the Ummah. Exposing the enemies of Islam would also expose the House of Saud as their agents; that would hardly be conducive to their continued control of the Haramain. Their determination to prevent implementation of the divine commands is in total violation of Islam’s laws and is the worst kind of bid‘ah. Are Muslims willing to change all this or do they want to continue to be satisfied with ignoring the most important aspects of Hajj, thus opening themselves up to the inevitable consequences of violating Allah’s (swt) commands?