January 06, 2006


Mezba started this argument and I am taking it further. The issue is "Hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) is a responsibility to be performed ONCE in a lifetime. So why are many going to Mecca multiple times?" Saudi Arabia is facing the hard task of managing the growing number of Muslim pilgrimage each year (more than one million this year out of which more than 50,000 are Bangladeshis) and you can already see the limitations and danger ahead. The Saudi government has recently imposed a restriction on the locals not permitting Hajj more than once in 5 years. In Islam there are specific instructions that before performing Hajj, one has to clear all debts and responsibilities (like arranging for childrens' marriages), ensure that close relatives and neighbors are out of poverty etc.

The points against availing multiple pilgrimage only because one can afford are:

* There is a quota on pilgrims from each country and a deserving candidate might be left out.
* They add to the logistical problems at Mecca. They take up hotel space there that could go to someone else, and so on.
* There are a lot of charitable work you can do with the money which can help many others and can bring you closer to God according to true spirit of Islam.

But some people seem to be happy in doing the pilgrimage multiple times because:
* They have a lot of money
* They have a wish they want to make to God, like winning an election.
* They need to be purified after regular intervals, like one tax consultant I know.
* I don't think they care about their poor distant relatives or neighbors against the concept of Islam.

So let us hear your comments on this. I would like to end with one fable:
A village shoemaker saved enough money for his pilgrimage in his whole working life and finally started his journey towards Mecca. On the way he found a woman in a shabby house crying. The man asks why she was crying. She said "I have no food to feed my children. I have put them asleep telling that I am cooking rice. But actually in the pot there is only water. I don't know what I will tell when they will wake up." The shoemaker gave to her all the money he had telling her that she should ensure proper upbringing of those children. And then he went back to home.

A couple of years later he was in his death bed and was telling to God "I have performed great sin, I have not gone to Mecca". An Angel told him, don't worry your Hajj was granted by God the moment you have helped the poor woman. You are destined for heaven.


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