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Hajj (Pilgrimage): A Microcosm of True World Peace
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Anyone remember what Malik Shabbazz said about his experiences from Hajj (pilgrimage)? It's interesting how an English woman from the 1930's has the same take on it...
Miss Irene Jane Wentworth Fitzwilliam went to Egypt to make a study of comparative religions, and was so much impressed by the Truth of Islam that she became a Muslim in 1931, and took the name of A'isha, which means 'The Enlightened', after the name of the beloved wife of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings be upon him)
A'isha Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, grand daughter of the late Earl Fitzwilliam, performed Hajj (pilgrimage) in 1935. Giving her impressions about the pilgrimage and her view of Islam, she said:
I am going to address the non-Muslims who are not as well acquainted with the noble Character and life of the Noble Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad's character and qualities were those which appeal especially to my own countrymen and women - namely, courage, loyalty, kindness and the greatest generosity to a fallen foe. His courage was exceptional. At the commencement of his great work, he stood entirely alone, his clansmen and even his family were against him, and he fought for his cause against apparently overwhelming odds. It was his courage and faith in Allah that brought him victory.
Previous to the days of the Prophet, the Arabians had sunk to the lowest degree - drunkenness, immorality and idolatry were at their height. The Kaaba (The Sacred House in Mecca), which, since the days of Abraham, had been used as the House of God, was filled with idols of stone and wood which the Arabs worshipped. All this the Prophet changed. Not one of the least courageous things he did was to smash all these idols (365), and while surrounded by enemies hurl them out of the Kaaba, I think that anyone who has been to Mecca can picture that scene and realize the danger to the Prophet and the courage it required.
Mentioning Mecca, I should like to say here that it seems to me a grand thing that the sacred cities of Arabia, Mecca and Medina, are again being visited by Occidentals as well as by Orientals. This is as it was in the days of the Prophet.
Everybody desires world peace, well, there is nothing which will better accomplish that than the festival at the end of the Pilgrimage at Arafat, where all nationalities - black, white, brown, yellow - all dressed alike, kings, beggars, poor and rich, side by side, offer up one universal hymn of praise to Allah. Surely, this equality should encourage world peace.
On account of drunkenness, the Prophet banned intoxicants. Further, he elevated the status of women. Up to that time women had no real status; in fact, the Arabs used to bury their female babies alive. All this, the Prophet stopped and instituted laws, 1,356 years ago, establishing women's rights that, alas, do not exist yet in some European countries. To this day, in the Islamic laws which the Prophet introduced, a woman's possessions, whether money, land or anything else, are her own; even her husband cannot lay hands on them. There is a great misconception among Christians as regards women in Islam. For example, many Europeans have said to me 'Oh! According to your Prophet, you have no soul'. How this fallacy has crept into the Christian imagination is incomprehensible, because it is the reverse of all Muhammad's teachings.
I cannot do better than finish by quoting an Englishman, Mr. Stanley Lene-Poole. Writing about the Prophet, he says:
\"There is something so tender and withal so heroic about the man who, standing alone, braved for years the hatred of his people. He was an enthusiast in the noblest sense when enthusiasm became the salt of the earth and his enthusiasm was noble for a noble cause. He brought his tidings to his people with a grand dignity sprung from the consciousness of his high office, together with a most sweet humility.\"
Thus wrote a man who was not a Muslim.
For more on the Prophet:
Post edited by: islaam.ca admin, at: 2007/02/02 02:27<br><br>Post edited by: islaam.ca admin, at: 2007/02/08 16:26
Tue Jan 23, 10:18 AM ET
URUS-MARTAN, Russia (Reuters) - Cycling across continents in search of inner fulfilment has become commonplace for young adventure-seekers from developed countries.
But Dzhanar-Aliev Magomed-Ali is not young, his bike is old and rickety and he lives in
Chechnya, a republic in southern Russia where separatists and Russians have fought two wars since 1994.
Last week, however, the 63-year-old finished a 10-week trip of nearly 12,000 kilometres (7,456 miles) on a rusting bike from his village in Chechnya via
Iran to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
"It was a very tough route, I wouldn't allow anybody else to do it," Magomed-Ali told Reuters at his home in Urus-Martan, 30 kilometres outside the destroyed Chechen capital of Grozny.
One of the hardest legs was in Iraq where, he said, U.S. soldiers stopped him because he did not have an Iraqi entry visa. He said they threw his bicycle to the ground in an argument.
Magomed-Ali, like the vast majority of ethnic Chechens, is Muslim. The haj is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and every able-bodied Muslim is supposed to make the journey once in their lifetime.
Inspiration came to Magomed-Ali from his mother who, he said, told him in a dream to make the haj.
"I replied that I couldn't do this as I didn't have any way of getting there," he said. "She replied that I had a bike and I should use it."
Mogomed-Ali wore a traditional sheepskin hat and a woollen jumper as he posed next to his purple, mud splattered bike.
He had made two modifications: A thick cloth had been wrapped around the saddle for comfort and a green metal sign hung under the main frame, mapping out his route.
"Urus-Matan - Grozny - Khasavyurt - Makhachkala - Baku - Tehran - Baghdad - Damascus - Mecca - Medina - Jerusalem - Urus-Matan," it read in printed white Russian Cyrillic letters.
As the crow flies Grozny and Mecca are a 5,000-kilometre round trip apart, but Magomed-Ali said he clocked up nearly 12,000 kilometres because of his circuitous route.
Umm Asma<br><br>Post edited by: islaam.ca admin, at: 2007/02/08 16:26
Every Pilgrim Has a Story to Tell
Galal Fakkar, Arab News
MAKKAH, 1 January 2007 — Among the throngs of millions of Haj pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom from over 180 countries from across the world this year, there are many people with lots of interesting stories to tell.
From the Egyptian woman who saved pennies in a box for over a decade to make the once-in-a-lifetime trip to the former American bartender and from the Palestinian refugee who defeated all odds while living under a brutal Israeli occupation in order to come to the Kingdom to the Indonesian pilgrim who lost his loved ones in tsunami there are millions of people who have wonderful and also heartrending stories to tell.
Arab News mingled with crowds to listen to their individual stories. The scene of pilgrims of different nationalities and languages sitting in one place talking and praying is something out of this world. When unable to speak or understand each other’s languages pilgrims can be seen using their hands to communicate with each other.
Sitting among a huge crowd of pilgrims in Mina was Layla Abu Leef, an Egyptian woman in her sixties. Busily observing the crowd moving and praying she greeted us with a smile when she learned that we were journalists.
Layla was extremely happy that she had finally made it for Haj this year. It was her lifelong dream to come to Makkah and something she thought was impossible on account of her financial situation. “I am a widow and managed to support myself financially by treating people with bone fractures using old and traditional medicine,” she says.
The old woman lives in a small village in Egypt and says that in spite of her not having a stable financial income she managed to save SR10,000 over 15 years in order to finance her trip to Makkah. “I have an old little iron box in which I would save money. Every time I open the box I add money equivalent to SR6 or SR10, which is not much. I was praying to God that I would stay alive and be able to make it for Haj. I did not want to borrow money and I wanted to make the journey using my own money,” she said clearly delighted to have finally arrived for the annual pilgrimage.
Ashraf Hamada, 41, is a Palestinian-American who says he never thought he would see himself performing the Haj. For years he worked in bars as a bartender serving alcohol in spite of that being against the teachings of Islam. “I came to a point where I questioned myself. Is this the way I want to live. My whole life was wasted in drinking alcohol and serving it. I decided to stop and wash my sins by coming to Haj,” he said.
“I was very scared to come because I had never come for Haj in my life. I came with my wife because I wanted her to share this experience with me. The way I feel coming here with millions of Muslims from all over the world cannot be described,” he added.
In defiance of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Sapheya Amer, 60, lives in a refugee camp in the West Bank. With the political situation in Palestine under turmoil Sapheya says she never thought she would finally be able to come for Haj. For more than 30 years she has been trying but each time unable to do so because of the Israeli occupation. “It is a great feeling to be in Makkah for Haj where I do not have to worry about Israeli checkpoints, shootings, humiliation and arrests. For thirty years I was dreaming to live in peace, something that I have finally found here.”
As the Arab News team moved around Mina, we came across a Moroccan national drinking water and looking at the crowd with a smile on his face. When we asked him why he was smiling he said he was wonderstruck by the beautiful picture of many people of different nationalities, culture and languages united in one purpose as one. His name was Abdul Kader Gaadu who owns several fabric shops in his native Morocco.
“I had a sad experience last year when I lost my only son. He wanted to go to Europe to find a better life and sneaked onto a boat but drowned before he reached there,” said Abdul Kader. “I came for Haj to find inner peace. Losing a son is a terrible feeling but it is what Allah has destined. I feel comfortable and I feel like I want to put all the pain and suffering behind me and start a new life,” he said.
Safi Al-Rahman is an Indonesian pilgrim in his fifties. He came to Haj also searching for peace and comfort after losing his wife and children in the tsunami.
“The tragic crisis brought me closer to Allah. It was a wake-up call for me. Allah has granted me a new life. I have a lot of money but there is no one to inherit it and so I decided to spend the money to come to Makkah,” he said.
Another interesting pilgrim we met was Abdullah, an American pilgrim who converted to Islam after 9/11. Abdullah was previously known as John and this was his first trip to Makkah for Haj. Abdullah said that the scene of pilgrims coming to Makkah on the news some years ago was inspiring. He says he was taken aback by seeing pilgrims united wearing a single uniform despite their differences and praying in one direction.
After 9/11 he began to read more about Islam and then converted to Islam. “I managed to convince my wife to convert to Islam last year. I am planning to come for Haj every year now for as long as I live,” he said.
As the sun sets over the heads of the pilgrims the sounds of their praying to Allah can be heard in the distance. The sounds and sights that are experienced during Haj is something unparalleled in the world today.
[049:013] O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allâh is that (believer) who has At-Taqwâ [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqûn (the pious. See V.2:2)]. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, Well-Acquainted (with all things).