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Two million pilgrims converge on Mecca for hajj

16 Comments
By Nadera Bouazza

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Accusations of the hajj being politicised have marred the region for some time.

Nations are assigned quotas to determine how many worshippers from each country can attend. It's arguably one of the most profitable of all religious festivals, earning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia additional billions.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I would love to go, but cost, accomadation and toilets prevent me. Plus now, ego politics.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The Hajj, circling the Kaaba, and the kissing of the black stone are probably the most fascinating practices in Islam from an anthropological perspective. All are ancient polytheistic practices which pre-date the creation of Islam by centuries. It's interesting that something so old can live on today even if the people doing it don't realise the provenance of their rituals.

I would love to go

Are you a Muslim? Because non-Muslims are forbidden from even entering Mecca. There are traffic signs on the highway as you approach basically saying 'Non-Muslims: take next exit'.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Here's a link to a photo of the sign. It's one of those things you have to see to believe.

http://www.bizziefrostphotography.com/articles_305423.html

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Nations are assigned quotas to determine how many worshippers from each country can attend. It's arguably one of the most profitable of all religious festivals, earning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia additional billions.

Very true. I understand that Mecca is a sacred place to Muslims, but I just wonder how comfortable worshippers are further enriching a country which sponsors the kind of extremism decent Muslims tell us gives their religion a bad name.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Thanks m3m3m3. I guess I can't go. Would like to experience though. Guess I'll just walk around Shikoku in white clothes with a hat and stick.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It's a pity that religious segregation takes place at this fascinating event. But them's the rules. I visited a Hindu temple in Bali but there was an area that only Hindus could access to.

A pity. As an atheist, I have visited temples, synagogues, mosques, shrines, churches, cathedrals, neolithic burial chambers ... all sorts of religious places. I find them fascinating. I could spend a whole day in any one of them.

I hope there are no tragedies this year.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Goodlucktoyou

Sorry to disappoint you, I hope you enjoy your walk in Shikoku.

But if you really want to go, it's not that difficult to become a Muslim. You just recite the Shahada and you are a Muslim. The difficulties only start if you later decide that Islam is not really your thing. I'm also not sure how strict the enforcement of the 'Muslims only' rule is or what the punishment is if you're caught. I've managed to pass myself off as a Muslim on two occasions to gain entry to some architecturally interesting mosques, but I'm not sure I would risk it in Saudi Arabia.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

M3M3M3Today  01:27 pm JST

All are ancient polytheistic practices which pre-date the creation of Islam by centuries. It's interesting that something so old can live on today even if the people doing it don't realise the provenance of their rituals.

It is interesting, but not exactly unusual. Most monotheistic religions maintain some connection to a polytheistic past. In Christianity there are the various traditions like Yule that have been syncretisized into Christianity, and in Judaism many of the names of God indicate a pre-monotheistic lineage.

As for the Hajj, whatever the politics the host nation is embroiled in, I hope everyone participating finds peace and enlightenment through their participation.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In Christianity there are the various traditions like Yule that have been syncretisized into Christianity,

Yule, samhain... check out sheela na gigs and gargoyles found in old churches. These carvings hint at a time when Christianity and paganism were still intertwined.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

in Christianity there are the various traditions like Yule that have been syncretisized into Christianity,

Another interesting one is Easter, which is the old Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre. Adopted wholesale and Christianised, even her symbol the Hare (now bowdlerised in to the Easter Bunny).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

I've managed to pass myself off as a Muslim on two occasions to gain entry to some architecturally interesting mosques,

Nonsense. You do not have to be Muslim to enter a mosque. I've visited mosques in the UK and Middle East with no problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nonsense. You do not have to be Muslim to enter a mosque. I've visited mosques in the UK and Middle East with no problem.

I was wondering about where M3 might have had to don a disguise to gain entry!

I visited one particularly beautiful one in Nicosia - it was formerly a church - and the sparse almost zen like feeling was oddly comforting. Men and women of all nationalities and creeds coming in. Some of the women were not wearing veils, either and nobody stepped forward to say anything negative. Visited a massive Hindu temple in London and a mate of mine had to cover up her legs but otherwise; same all welcome policy. Oh and lots of statues.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Toasted Heretic, @Luddite

I went to the oldest mosque in Tunis, and another one in Tunisia. Non-muslims are allowed into a tourist pen at the first mosque, and the other one didn't entertain tourists.

You do not have to be Muslim to enter a mosque. 

Yes, this is true in the vast majority of Muslim countries. I've visited many mosques without any problem. The situation in North Africa is different. Non-muslims are not allowed into the mosques. I believe they follow a different interpretation of Islam on this point.

I was wondering about where M3 might have had to don a disguise to gain entry!

No disguise. But what sort of disguise were you imagining, just out of curiosity?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Same experience as M3, went to Qom in Iran and wasn't allowed in one of the (I assume) holier mosque. 

I love mosques and Islamic architecture in general but I think Mecca during the Hajj pilgrimage would be a overwhelming experience. Not for me am afraid (probably a fascinating experience though).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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