Friday, January 13, 2006

The weird spirituality of Hajj

I live in the Middle East with my Muslim family and have converted in secret to Christianity (a story in itself that will be presented here in the near future). This blog has given me the voice I was looking for so long. The people already blogging i.e. Axis of Islam and Anti-Jihadist share my views about Islam and they are very informed about it too.

The practice of pilgrimage which in Islamic terms is also and more popularly known as Hajj is a vital part of Islam. It is so important a part of religion that it is dubbed as ‘the fifth pillar of Islam’ which, for those who don’t know about Islam, is a very high status for a ritual or practice (Jihad is the 6th pillar of Islam but most so-called moderate Moslems will deny it). It is a duty instituted on a Moslem to perform hajj once in his life whenever he has the money to do so. It was said by the self proclaimed prophet who went by the name Mohammed that hajj cleans all the sins of the past life and makes the man anew – like a new-born.

It is this ‘quality’ of hajj that makes people want to perform this (the people I knew personally who went to perform hajj were mostly those who were corrupt individuals, not saying that this is the trend but well that’s what my experience says) because they believe that whatever they have done in life, it will be forgiven by performing this ‘rightful’ deed which ‘Allah’ loves. On top of that, since Allah has ordered it, you can be dead sure that all Moslems will want to do it because, after all, ‘its Allah’s will’.

When a dude decides he wants to perform the duty of hajj first thing he needs is money (while the specific costs of the hajj varies from country to country, a typical Pakistani pilgrim can expect to spend 2500-3000 US $ for the hajj. This is a lifetime of savings for most Moslems). After that’s done, he gets ready to make the journey toward the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. The journey first takes people to a place called Mina. But before entering it, they must take a bath and don an outfit called ‘Ihram’ for men. The Ihram has no stitches, and comes in two pieces of white cloth to cover the upper and the lower portion of the body. For women, it’s easy; they just have to cover their head with a white cloth, a veil.

The person performing hajj sings

‘Here I am for Hajj. Here I am, oh Allah, here I am. Here I am. You have no partner. Here I am. Surely all praise, grace and dominion is yours, and you have no partners.’

Since this practice was incorporated into Islam by Mohammed from pagan practices it has many things borrowed or copied from the old pagan ways, like this phrase I just wrote down. The only difference is that the pagans included the mention of other deities as ‘intercessors of Allah’. The rest of the practices that I am about to write down about are similar.

When the person reaches ‘Mina’, he offers some prayers that are obligatory in Islam. The next day, at the sunrise he gets up and moves to another place called ‘Arafah’ (Arafah sounds somewhat like Arafat – maybe they are connected in some way but Arafah is a place and Arafat was a dude who was a terrorist ruling Palestine). At ‘Arafah’ he offers prayers – again – and remains there for the day until sunset. After sunset he goes to another place called ‘Muzdalifah’ (there’s a lot of movement going on – its like those wild west movies where they just kept on moving, the only thing the pilgrims lack is a ‘heehaw’ every now and then). He stays there till the sunrise and then starts something funny. He gets up – goes back to ‘Mina’ to perform the ritual called ‘Al-Rami’ (pronounced – Ar-ramee). ‘Al-Rami’ is a ritual in which you – well – stone the Satan. It is this pillar kind of thing called ‘Jamrah-Al-Aqaba’ which the hajji (a person who is performing the hajj) throws stones at and at the same time he recites ‘It is Allah who is throwing these stones’ – Moslem spirituality knows no limits and this god of theirs doesn’t get tired of playing childish games.

During the whole Hajj process though people keep chanting, ‘Here I am for Hajj. Here I am, oh Allah…’ It doesn’t feel spiritual at all to the person who is not a Moslem but Moslems act like a bunch of drunks. They shake their heads, lift their arms up, walk long distance and keep babbling away. I can tell you with 100% confidence that most of the people don’t have any idea about what they are doing there.

Anyway, after they return from the stone throwing spree, they slaughter poor animals (this day is called ‘Eid-Al-Adha’) and eat them up. They distribute those animals to other people too who are poor and can’t afford it but this perception that those animals that are slaughtered also go to poor non Moslems is wrong because any partaking of non Moslems in Islamic rituals is prohibited and punishable by death. So next time when you are hungry during the hajj season, don’t ever knock on the doors of a Moslem because you might lose your flesh instead of getting any.

After slaughtering the animals and before eating and distributing them, the Hajji gets his head shaved off or some hair clipped, but shaving the all the hair off is dearer in the sight of Allah (he could see the sun reflect back from the head of the pilgrims). Women just get the hair clipped because otherwise it would be an ugly sight.

After they are done with these things – they take their ‘Ihram’ off and put on normal clothing which – to be honest – doesn’t make any difference because their normal clothing (especially of Arabs) looks somewhat like ‘Ihram’ anyway. They go to Mecca after that and perform ‘Tawwaf’ – a paganistic ritual of old in which the hajji walks around the ‘Kaaba’ which is the building covered in black cloth. Then the Hajji goes on to the two mountains Safa and Marwa, which Moslems believe were run between by Hagar when she was looking for water for Ishmael (but Ishmael knew better, he hit the ground with his infant feet and lo and behold a well was dug – this Ishmael should work for the oil drilling companies). To act as Hagar did, Moslems walk and sometimes run between these mountains seven times. This ritual is called ‘Sa’i’ (I have done it, it kills you, don’t try it if you have asthma). This whole process looks, well, like a freak show.

After they are done with it, they go to poke the bear again for the next two days. They go back to ‘Mina’ to throw the stones at the poor soul again. Here they throw stones at three different places. Something happened, very strange, in Islam, because this Satan has some brothers too. There is Big Satan, Small Satan and the Smallest Satan. They throw stones at each one of them saying ‘It is Allah who throws stones’ (Allah needs hobby-counseling). I don’t know what it is but I think the Satan is already pissed off at the previous stoning that the Moslems suddenly start running and it turns into a stampede resulting in the killing of some 200-300 Moslems every year (in 1990 alone some 1450 Moslems died at this very spot). If the pilgrim is tired after the two-day battle against the Satan, he can return in peace believing he won. But if he is not satisfied and wants to mess with the bad boy again, he can stay there another day, and after that return to Mecca, perform the ‘Tawwaf’ again and then return home.

Moslems who perform hajj say that they felt the strong spirituality during all of it but if you find anything spiritual in hajj please tell me because seriously walking around half naked (upper part of the body is mostly uncovered because its hard to keep your hands on the cloth all the time) and believing that Allah is a master of stoning is no spirituality at all. And if it is then it is very weird at that. This weird spirituality and brutality (stoning and then stepping on the pilgrims and running around for no good reason) during the hajj shows how inhuman this religion of Islam is yet again. But if you want to just have fun, I think it is quite an adventure – I mean, come on, who would want to miss seeing Allah throw those stones ;).


The Anti-Jihadist said...

Welcome aboard, Avenging Apostate! Nothing like a recovering (i.e. former) Muslim to show the nastiness that is Islam.

Dan Zaremba said...

Yep, Hajj sounds like a profoundly intellectual adventure.
I hope they (the organizers) charge for the stones.

-See get this one, real sharp and well balanced and only 20% more than the standard stone.

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective from a former muslim that has actually attended hajj rock concert.

From my research almost all of the rituals were carry over from pagan times.

I asked once on an islamic forum ... what god or gods did Mohammad worship before islam. I thought they were going to throw rocks at me.

Papa Ray said...

Sounds like a good exercise in faith. There are some not so drastic or exausting rituals in other religions (but I don't think anyone gets trampled or killed).

All in all, it's something to consider when you think about Islam.

Blind faith in anything is not a good thing (as Martha would say).

Papa Ray
West Texas

Jason Pappas said...

It's that stadium seating that's the problem. ... Seriously, this mass confession, in which nothing is confessed, has got to be bizarre. Religions that have become devoid of spirituality and transformed into pure ritual do look scary.

I agree with Papa. Blind faith and big crowds scare me … especially the combination of the two.

Pastorius said...

Hi Avenging Apostate,
We'd love to have you as part of Infidel Bloggers Alliance. If you would like to contribute, let me know, and I will send off an invitation.

Always On Watch said...

Welcome, Avenging Apostate! I'm looking forward to reading everything you post.

Anonymous said...

I have never come across such a bunch of lies in my life, and the weirdest thing is that you attract people that actually believe you, now that is worrying!!

You forget to mention certain things about the Hajj, and let me outline some for you.

Firstly yes the Hajj is a journey of the heart and if it is 'accepted' by Allah one sins can be forgiven for Allah is the most compasionate most merciful, however before one is to embark on the journey and disputes, previous quarrels etc must be resolved before one can embark on this journey, thus there is alot of preparation before hand!

Secondly, those two white peices of cloth teach us that no matter if one is rich or poor, no matter if one is black or white, no matter what culture you are from , in the eyes of Allah we are all one. It is true brotherhood, and true equality, there is no distinguishment between the rich and the poor, and thus when one returns a valuable lesson is learnt, humans are all one, unity , brotherhood.

No gathering is witnessed where 3 million humans are doing the same thing at the sametime...worshipping Allah.

I have to keep this short but if you are Christians then let me point something out to you. Firstly most of the Hajj rites we carry out are following the footsteps of Ibrahim pbu (Abraham) who is not a pagan!!! The house was built by Abraha as a command from God, and then Abraham made a call to mankind to visit this house once in their lifetime if they have the means. Another example is opne of the rite we do is where we walk between two mountains supplicating to god, which abraham wife did when she was in the desert with her child and there was not food and water, and then after her supplicatiing and running hysterically between two mountains came the spring of Zam zam which still is there today!!!

The stoning is also an inward act, one throws stones and says Allah is great, and thus is stoning the devil or evil within one. Also some say that when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, the devil came and tried talking him out of it, but Abraham threw stones st the devil.

Islam is beautiful, it accepts the previous books, it accepts all prophets and Jesus as a prophet of God. The pinciples are no different what were sent in the torah and the old testmanent, I suggest one should go and read the Quran, not what these silly websites claim. I strongly believe in peace no matter what religion one is because at the end of the day Allah will judge us, and only he truly knows what will happen top us. So lets please get on, too much hatred and bloodshed already, why not come to get to know each other, rather then think that we are terrorists because we want peace! From a muslim, peace.