Many will not like what I am saying today. They will probably call me an infidel because I question the fundamentals of religion that were laid by imams and scholars hundreds of years ago.
I have been thinking about the Hajj since I worked at King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah 20 years ago. At that time, an accident occurred at the Al-Ma’aisim Tunnel in Mina, which took the lives of thousands who were crushed in a stampede, prompting the Saudi authorities to organize the ritual of stoning the devil in a safer way.
But this year, thousands of “ordinary” Muslim pilgrims died in another stampede. I call them “ordinary” so as to distinguish them from the princes and VIPs for whom the place is cleared when they come to perform the ritual.
The following simple questions came to my mind:
1 – The Hajj was known to the people who lived before the emergence of Islam. But when Prophet Mohamed came, he performed it in a different way. He wore the outfit that is still used to this day, which epitomizes the equality of the people before God on Judgement Day, when there will be no difference between the rich and the poor. If this is the purpose, why is the place is evacuated when VIPs go there?
2 – What are those terms we have been hearing lately, such as “Five-Star Hajj” and “Special Hajj?” Are these not violations of the basic principles of Hajj?
God has ordered the Hajj for those who can afford it, not only financially, but also spiritually, meaning they are willing to stand undistinguished from the rest of the pilgrims, otherwise they should stay in their palaces until they are ready.
3- I do not understand why the Saudi authorities are turning the place into one giant tourist resort with five-star hotels and high-rise buildings that almost obscure the Kaaba. This didn't happen even during the time of the Umayyads, who were known for building extravagant mosques and monuments. They never built anything around the Kaaba.
God bless the souls of the ordinary Muslims who paid with their lives for classist practices that have nothing to do with God.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm