Hajj 2020: An Islamic phenomenon in a pandemic

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After a great deal of speculation and suspense, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally announced that Hajj will be performed this year, but only by 1,000 Saudi pilgrims – a downscale from the usual number of around 2.5 million.

The news is heartbreaking for all Muslims around the world. Millions of Ahmadis fondly watch the live scenes of Hajj every year on their television screens to catch a glimpse of the Holy Ka‘bah live – the holiest of all shrines in Islamic theology.

Labelled as non-Muslims by most of the so-called Muslim states, including Saudi Arabia, Ahmadis are banned from setting foot on the holy soil where their master, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, once walked. Thanks to Western nationalities, a handful are able to fulfil this ardent desire, but for millions, it remains a dream beyond reach.  

This year’s Hajj will also be watched by millions of Muslims – including Ahmadi Muslims of course – but the emaciated number of pilgrims will be a very different sight for all.

This will not be the first time that Hajj will not be performed in its normal grandiosity, but the 40th time or so in known history. Most of such unfortunate events were due to famines, epidemics or climatic conditions, but some of such shameful occasions are shrouded in warfare and bitter conflicts – stemming from the lust of power and authority.  

The Aksumite emperor of Abyssinia had attempted a conquest of the Ka‘bah even before the Prophetsa of Islam was born and did not hinder the Islamic Hajj. But the episode is a proof that the sanctity of the Ka‘bah, which dates to Abrahamic times, had turned it into the most treasured possession of Hijaz, conquest of which meant victory over the whole land. 

Then came the Holy Prophetsa of Islam and with him, the edifice of Islam, which is held up by several pillars – one of them being Hajj. Islamic history has it that the first Hajj was performed in the sixth year of Hijra.  

It continued without any break until the second century after Hijra, when in 865 CE, the Ka‘bah was invaded by Ismail bin Yousuf – known as as-Saffak for his atrocities – as a revolt against the Abbasid caliphate. Owing to the ongoing war, Hajj could not be performed that year.  

This invasion of the Ka‘bah was followed by many others, albeit decades or centuries apart – the worst of which is known to be the one by a sect called the Qaramta in 930 CE. The sect, led by Abu Tahir al-Janabi, was again a rebel group against the so-called caliphate of the time. They considered Hajj to be a legacy of the pagan ways of worship and hence attacked the Holy Ka‘bah so brutally that it had to be rebuilt after the surge came to an end. Around 30,000 pilgrims were inhumanely killed as they performed worship around the Ka‘bah and, as they left the town of Mecca in tatters, they took away the Hajr-e-Aswad to their capital in the then Arabian province of al-Bahrain. It stayed in Abu Tahir’s palace for nine years, before it was brought back after paying a heavy ransom. 

983 CE saw a bloody conflict between the Abbasid and the Fatmid claimants of caliphate that kept Hajj from being performed until 991 CE – a break of eight long years.  

The details of the other such conflicts need not be mentioned as characters in a story of lustful conquests may change, but the plot always seems to remain the same. 

The fact (shameful as it is) is that all such warfare that resulted in damage to the Holy Ka‘bah, and subsequently to Hajj, resulted from conflicts between Muslims. No foreign, non-Muslim power was ever involved.  

After the Rashidun, all other sultanates established in the name of caliphate were political rulers. Their geopolitical pursuits kept them indulged in wars and battles. So-called caliphs were overthrown and toppled by other claimants of the office, but the motives never changed.

Right up to 1924 – when the Ottoman caliphate packed up – caliphate was seen as a symbol of bloodthirsty rulers and conquerors.  

The Ahmadiyya Caliphate – established in 1908 in Qadian – has always stood for peace and harmony. It is the leadership of the fastest growing Muslim sect in the world. It is the one and only Islamic leadership that calls for the true teachings of Islam to be reestablished in the world. It is the only Islamic leadership that is seen taking the peaceable message of Islam to the corners of the earth.  

Yet, the Ahmadiyya Caliph and his followers are denied access to the holy lands of Mecca and Medina – the cities where live their hearts and souls. All this for the mere reason that they believe in the Messiah and Mahdi of the latter days – Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. 

It is reported that the Promised Messiahas was once seen in a very pensive mood. Upon being asked, he replied that he was imagining the holy sites of Mecca and Medina when a thought crossed his mind:

“Will I be even able to cast a glance on those holy places?” 

For all the decrees against him by Muslim states, he never could actually visit Mecca and Medina. He was the one person who loved the Holy Prophetsa more than any human that ever lived or will ever live. He revived Islam aft er it fell into a state where it was close to withering away.  

While every Ahmadi desires to visit Mecca and Medina and prays for that to happen one fine day, let us all pray that Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, the successor of the Promised Messiahas and the only champion of Islam, can one day lead the Salat in the Ka‘bah. May this day of victory soon dawn upon the Muslim Ummah.

We would like to conclude this piece with the prayer that may there never be any hindrance in Hajj; may this great symbol of unity happen every year and may this symbol of unity turn into true unity under the flag of Islam Ahmadiyyat. Amin

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