Will Saudi Arabia Cease to Be the Center of Islam?

07devji-jumboSaudi Arabia, or the Arabian Peninsula before the formation of the modern kingdom, has been and remains a place both central and marginal to Muslims around the world.

An Urdu novel published in 1869 by Nazir Ahmad, a writer in Delhi, portrays two young Muslim girls at their geography lesson. As they identify various countries on a map, the girls come across the Arabian Peninsula. Their teacher describes it as an empty space infested by marauding Bedouin, one whose only significance lay in its historical role as the site of Islam’s birth.

The monuments and institutions of Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam, had always been minor in architectural quality and financial endowment compared with the splendid mosques, tombs and seminaries found at the centers of Muslim power in Baghdad and Cairo, Istanbul and Isfahan, Delhi and Samarkand.

Muslim kings rarely visited Mecca and Medina. Instead, those cities served as places of exile for their enemies.

Saudi Arabia, or the Arabian Peninsula before the formation of the modern kingdom, has been and remains a place both central and marginal to Muslims around the world. Even as Mecca and Medina represent the most important sites of Muslim pilgrimage, the vision of the holy cities as remote and perilous is still reinforced by the occasional stampede of pilgrims during the Hajj.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

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A journey to Hajj that changed Islam in America

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  • “I don’t believe that motion picture cameras ever have filmed a human spectacle more colorful than my eyes took in”
  • “During the past 11 days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug — while praying to the same God — with fellow Muslims”

MAKKAH: Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. But his detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence.

He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. Malcolm was a member of the Nation of Islam, an African American politico-religious movement founded by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in the 1930s.Their goals were to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in the US. Critics have described the organization as black supremacist.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS 

Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha as pilgrims conduct Hajj

bd2239803ac1432dbbf6afe3d690989c_18Muslims across the world are celebrating the festival of Eid al-Adha, which coincides with the final rites of the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

While many will celebrate on Tuesday, millions of others, including in South Asia, will celebrate the start of the religious holiday the day after.

Eid al-Adha, which in Arabic literally means the “festival of the sacrifice”, commemorates the story of the Muslim Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith.

Muslims believe Ibrahim was commanded by God him to sacrifice his son, Ismail. Tradition holds that God stayed his hand, sparing the boy, and placing a ram in his place.

The day is marked with the sacrifice of an animal, usually a goat, sheep, or cow, and the distribution of the meat among neighbours, family members, and the poor.

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FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Hajj 2018 in pictures: Hajj begins in Mecca – how many people will travel for Hajj?

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Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with Shahadah (belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as prophet), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity) and Sawm (fasting).

It is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which all Muslims who are physically and financially undertake at least once in their lifetime.

This year, it has been estimated that more than two million people will make the journey.

2017 saw almost 2.5 million attendees, with 2012 holding the record with more than three million flocking to the holy city.

Hajj begins on the eighth day of the 12th Islamic month, called Dhu al-Hijjah, and lasts for five days.

On the tenth day of the Islamic calendar (the second of Hajj), the holy festival of Eid al-Adha is celebrated.

This year Hajj will run from Sunday, August 19 till Friday, August 24.

What do you do at Hajj?

Hajj begins at a place just outside Mecca called the Miqat, or entry station to the Hajj.

Hajj 2018 in pictures

Hajj 2018 in pictures: Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca (Image: EPA)

Hajj 2018 in pictures

Hajj 2018 in pictures: Muslim Hajj pilgrims touch Kaaba’s wall and pray (Image: EPA)

 

I went to Hajj last year and it had a profound impact on me. This is what it was like

hajj-2As millions travel to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj, one Muslim pilgrim reflects on what it meant to her a year on.

I just remember the sheer excitement. A combination of nerves and heightened euphoria. I wasn’t sure how I would feel when I stood before the Ka’bah. Holding my husband’s arm tightly as waves of people overtook us; I was in complete amazement. Considering all the history in this same spot, the footsteps of so many that had travelled before by camel, foot and now, many air miles, I was filled with joy and a surreal sense of peace.

This was the centre of Islam, and the Ka’bah signified a place of unity for Muslims irrespective of background or race. I felt incredibly blessed to be among a fraction of the 1.5 billion Muslims who actually get to be here in person.

This was my first time in the Middle East and so the 44-degree heat was a new sensation to me. I was startled by the Muslim world before me. The incredible diversity of people journeying far and wide was a sight to behold. Many came with little other than unyielding determination and what clothes they had on. They walked for hours in the burning heat, some without shoes. The majority them were also much older than ourselves; our plane journey from Beirut was the first time some of them had ever been on a flight! I loved seeing the bright colours of the Malaysian ladies as they interlocked arms to stay together.

Our Hajj journey began at Mina – a neighbourhood in Mecca – where we stayed in huge white tents with massive Persian-style rugs on the floor. Each encampment was divided by country. I was sharing a space with 70 other ladies, a bit like a really massive sleepover, whilst camping in intense heat. There was a really nice atmosphere inside with everyone sharing stories and snacks, the worries from home felt so far away.

Hajj: How the true face of Islam in unity is reflected in this once-in-a-lifetime journey

1281136-326978879RIYADH: Hajj is an epic experience that can truly change a person through a spiritual cleansing that is profound. Islam came to eliminate racism and tribalism, and in due process slavery. Hajj reflects the true face of Islam in unity, as all Muslims, regardless of their nationality or status, wear the same cloth before Allah.

This is reflected in the extremely simple clothing: Men wear two white cloths that cover their bodies, while women wear a long robe with and headscarf. (The face should be bare when performing Hajj.)

One of the aspects of Hajj is to cleanse our souls from all earthly possessions and luxuries that cling to one’s heart, reminding us that we shall return to the ground from which we were created.

A vast sea of people can be witnessed walking in unison to perform the rituals. It is a place free of discrimination and filled with appreciation.

In a small spot in Makkah, close to 3 million stand in prayer before Allah, to repent from sins and gather blessings from the Almighty. At that moment when they stand together atop Arafat Mountain, it really does feel like it’s a small world after all.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS 

Millions of Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha 2017

eidMillions of Muslims around the world are celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday as some two million pilgrims carry out the final rites of the annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims on Friday made their way towards a massive multi-storey complex in Mina after dawn to cast pebbles at three large columns.

It is here where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim out of submitting to God’s will.

Muslims believe Ibrahim’s faith was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Ismail. Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son.

The final days of Hajj coincide with the Eid al-Adha holiday, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, to commemorate Ibrahim’s test of faith. For the holiday, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.

eid 2.jpgFor the final three days of Hajj, pilgrims sleep in a large tent valley called Mina and for three days take part in a symbolic stoning of the devil.

Most pilgrims will remain in Mina until Monday before completing the Hajj.

They will then circle the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, Islam’s most sacred site, before departing.

The Kaaba represents the metaphorical house of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Observant Muslims around the world face towards the Kaaba during the five daily prayers.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA