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Date Posted: 21:25:37 08/31/07 Fri
Author: Javed
Subject: UMRAH HAJ PAKISTANI STYLE, SANS SPIRIT

I had recently been to perform Umrah. I feel I have left my heart there in Holy Macca and Madina.

The visit to the Holy places have saddened me in one respect. Since my childhood I saw if someone was going to perform Haj, even strangers passing through gave their respect to intending Haji and liked to shake hand with him or get his hand blessed on the head. I do remember in 1960s when I was a teenager in my small home town when Hajis used to go by trains to Karachi, we used to go to Railway Station to meet the intending Hajis. In hot summer sunshine we were not allowed to go out and play in streets but if we told our parents we were going to Railway Station to see off a Haji our parents encouraged us. Now when I traveled for my own Umrah I thought everyone in the bus would be reciting Holy Quran or a Tasbih. As soon as the Bus started moving the Moullam introduced through addressing system introduced us about Umrah and guided how to keep reciting “Labaik Allahummah Laibakik”. After he finished most of the people were talking on phones, relaying to their families back home where had they reached, exchanging ring tunes, testing if local limits of their mobiles had ended, about business. During 18 hours 2200 km journey hardly I saw anybody really looking like if he had any real emotion or expression on his face about the nearing Holy Macca.

After performing my Umrah it is my firm belief that the Umrah and the Haj for 95% of we the Pakistanis, Indian Muslims are merely formal rituals and fashion or a status jounrey. While I was completing my 7 circles around Holy Kabba, I had to walk and remain almost one and an a half circle with a wheel chair on which sat an aged Pakistani women being pushed by her young son. The lady was talking in pure Punjabi village voice loudly “tell Gulnar today I am wearing the suit she gave me, Yah Yah that one which have green leaves print on it and now I have completed four “chakars”. Traveling from Macca to Madina due to traffic checking our Bus was late. As the Madina was nearing more voices of concern were that time was short and we had not taken our lunch. The concentration was on Lunch and no body was worried if his/her prayer would be missed from Masjid-e-Nabvi.

As soon as our group performed the Umrah and was out of Haram Sharif, 95% on way were on shops shopping cloth.

The only real spirit of performing Umrah I saw was with Iranians, Indonesians and Chinese. Their women had all same one single white cloth duly rapped from hand to foot. The real tears of emotions were on faces of these Iranians, Indonesians old or young. They strictly followed the instructions of their Moullam. During performance of religious compulsory rituals their phones remained closed. In Holy Macca and Masjid-e-Nabi during prayers dozens of mobiles keep ringing. But phones of these Iranians, Indoanesians and Chinese always remained silent.

Around and near to the Khana-e-Kaba, believers after seven circles for “Tuaaf” are to pray two Nowafals near the Qibla. Saudis according to their belief do not let women to say their Nawafals on the ground near to Khan-e-Kaba. The gent and women guards yell at women directing them to go away from the ground and say their Nawafals in the covered area of the Mosque whereas every Muslim wishes to perform the same nearest to the Qibla. I have read that in the Haram Shareef all Mahmoods and Ayazs are equal and the same. I could not believe the discrimination there. The police and civilian guards yell in insulting tune to Pakistanis, Indians etc but they have no “courage” to do the same with Irani women. Irani women do pray where they wish to. Irani Guides give explanatory lectures to their group members in loud voice near the Qibla but Saudi Police and civilian guards mostly turn their eyes the other way. I really found it admirable that Irani government really has the power, as it had recently shown in Nuclear matter and it comes to any matter out of the country, each and every Irani citizen is on the back of the Government. The same thing I found in Masjid-e-Nabvi. Everyone wish to sit inside near the “Roza-e-Pak”. Rightly when inside space is filled, the guards do not allow others to go inside and tell people to sit outside. However if some one is known to them and a friend, he can simply walk away inside.

Tne Muslims have different beliefs. According to Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Irani Muslim touching, kissing or touching their cloths with Khan-e-Qaba, Muqam-e-Ibrahim is an act of their passion and deep feelings but Saudis do not believe on this. When they see our people touching or kissing eg Muqam-e-Ebrahim etc they yell loudly, push and throw away people with force saying “Bidat, haraffat,”. The Saudis were reportedly a year or so back were to demolish the Birth Place of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) under a development plan as in their belief preserving such places is against interruption of “their” Islam. However, due to protests world over they immediately stopped this project (perhaps for the time being) and turned the house into a Library. On the back corner of the house there still exists the original door of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)’s house. This area is not properly clean. When our Molluam explained about existence of original door space, we reached near to it with deep love and respect when the Guards started yelling. There is no doubt that the Saudi Government is spending huge on providing services to the visiting pilgrims and that is not an easy job nevertheless it is also a hard fact that its functionaries see the visiting pilgrims except those from Saudi Arabia with contempt and treat them as lesser Muslims. They believe one who does not belong to or does not subscriber to their belief (wahibism) is a lesser Muslim and does not know the true Islam. Seeing their behaviour and insulting attitude I was tempted to share and agree to some extent with an Iranian slogan raised some 5-6 years back that if Saudis did not change their attitude the Iran may consider raising the issue to declare these two holy cities as International Cities for Muslim to be controlled jointly by Muslim world.

Another “Munafiqat” surprised me. Saudi security was keeping a watch that no one uses his/her mobile phone camera to photograph “Khana-Kaba” or its parts. Of course they were not objecting at all on use of mobiles as mobkles. But If they found anyone snapping photographs with mobile phone camera the security staff yelling loudly would come to snatch the mobile, check the snapped photograph, delete it and return the camera. A companion on way back told he saw security guards physically severely beating a person who had snapped photographs. The security staff more particularly at Masjid-e-Nabvi checked the hand bags of ladies for mobiles with camera. My daughter had to stay outside the Masjid because she had such a mobile. However same Saudi had munafiqat when one sees hundreds of photographs and posters of Khan-e-Kaba and Masjid-e-Nabvi are sold outside these two Holy Places. Same Saudis who term photography as haram, telecast live Adhan and prayer.

In my childhood I used to hear from my grands that in Macca and Madina as soon as there is call for prayers, the shop keepers run for prayer leaving their shops open because there was no fear of theft. I could not see any shop being left open but what I saw was as soon as there is “Adhan” the police vans fitted with public address system come on the road “reminding” people it is prayer time. The shop shutters are pulled down. I heard from many shop keepers that due to this they suffer eg hoteliers as they have to switch off their fire heaters, leave the half cooked food there and re-start on return. It is well known a fact some food if left half cooked, cannot be properly cooked if re-started. This my observation was the performance of prayer today was through “Danda” as deduction of zakat in Pakistan from bank accounts. I have lot heard pilgrims in these two Holy Cities are guests of ALLAH. But I found shopkeepers even in those two most scared Holy Cities are cheaters. One will take one Riyal for tea, the next one knowing well the customer is a stranger will charge Riyals two.

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