Saturday 21 November 2009

Hajj 2009:

The Times (20 November 2009) has an article on the rituals of hajj:

A global community living out their faith, they represent a tremendous diversity of languages and cultures, social classes and professions: Nigerians and Egyptians, Saudi Arabians and Iranians, Americans and Europeans, Turks, Pakistanis and Indonesians; monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, doctors, lawyers, and engineers; corporate leaders and workers.

Whatever their backgrounds and class, all who participate in the pilgrimage wear simple garments, two seamless white cloths for men and an outfit that entirely covers the body, except face and hands, for women. These coverings symbolise purity as well as the unity and equality of all believers, an equality that transcends class, wealth, privilege, power, nationality, race and colour.

Those who have made the haj describe the incredible experience of two million pilgrims praying together as equals, entering into the divine presence, connecting them to something greater than themselves. Many see this as a symbolic experience preparing them for death, when all humans will eventually come together to meet their creator on the Day of Judgment.

The haj had a transforming effect on the black American activist Malcolm X, whose time on pilgrimage led to a spiritual transformation and a new understanding of human brotherhood. As he explains: “There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colours, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and nonwhite.”

Read the full article here.

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