WEB DESK: “Hold firmly to your faith in Allah and do not become divided,” said Imam-e-Kaaba Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais as he addressed nearly 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims from across the world who had gathered at Mount Arafat this past Sunday.
He advised Muslims not to indulge in sectarianism and keep unity in their ranks. But, ironically, missing from that mammoth gathering of Hujjaj were the Iranians. They were not there following a spat between the regional rivals, Riyadh and Tehran, over the aftermath of the stampede and the ensuing tragedy at Mina last year, in which hundreds were killed, including Iranians.
Last year, some 64,000 Iranians took part in the pilgrimage, but dispute over the incident is said to have prompted Tehran to ban its citizens. Tehran has accused the Saudi government of “incompetence” to manage observance of pilgrimage, as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called upon Muslims across the world to “reconsider Saudi Arabia’s custodianship of Islam’s holy sites”.
The Saudis responded in the same coin: Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Naif said Iran’s leaders are trying to “politicise the pilgrimage”. And politics there is, otherwise despite their sectarian mismatch the Iranians never missed participation in Hajj. But now the two governments happen to have embraced clashing worldviews on regional crises particularly in Yemen and Syria where they take opposing positions through their proxies.
Of course, the last year’s tragedy did cause lot of frustration among many Muslim countries, but it is Tehran that has expressed itself against the Saudis so strongly. And they have responded in no less a harsh tone – while Iranian supreme leader charged that the Saudi officials “murdered their Hujjaj” the Saudi Grand Mufti said the leadership in Tehran are non-Muslim as it is “descendants of Magi”.
Perhaps, the OIC or some other Islamic organisation should have intervened well in time and defused the post-Mina simmering perceptional mismatch coming to such an unsavoury boil. After all such incidents had taken place earlier too – only a month before the Mina incident a construction crane had crashed into the gathering of pilgrims killing over a hundred and injuring twice that number.
The world needs to hear what Imam al-Sudais said in his Hajj sermon. In most eloquent words, he maintained Islam and Muslims, wherever they are, have nothing to do with terrorism, and that the perpetrators of violence should be brought to book. His message should be heard not only in the Muslim world, but across the world where some governments and their governed have come to see incidence of terrorism throw the eyepiece of Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’. They brand Muslims as trouble-makers wherever they are.
And while we the Muslims expect others to hear what Imam-e-Kaaba said, we too need to look inside ourselves and realise how miserably we have failed to present Islam in its true spirit. The Holy Quran says “a person who saves one life saves the whole humanity and a person who kills one person kills whole humanity”. Islam abhors all types of violence in society. Imam Sudais reminded his audience and advised them to “shun differences on the basis of sects, as the Almighty has called us to follow the righteous path”.
It’s indeed call of the time that “Ummah hold consultations and dialogue to overcome its problems”. The Hajj gathering at Arafat was held in quite different but secure ambience. The Saudi authorities had done whatever they could to avert repetition of the Mina tragedy. All the roads and pathways the pilgrims were to take during performance of Hajj have been widened to avert rush and stampede. And helicopters and drones flew overhead to ensure a trouble-free flow of pilgrims.
Source: Business Recorder