There will always be challenges, but Muslims need to focus on their priorities
By The Muslimah Network
October 2, 2015
769 people were killed in the Mina Stampede according to the most recent reports at the time this blog was published. Overall, in this years’ Hajj, over 1,100 people have died, which includes the crane collapse in the Haram that led to over a hundred deaths.
We realised that this Hajj has probably been the toughest for the Muslim ummah in recent history. For nine years, there had been no major disasters at hajj, which made this year’s tragedy all the more shocking – it was the deadliest incident in the past 25 years.
But it is at moments that shake us, force us to pause and think, that most lessons can be gleaned. And this tragedy came with its own set of lessons.
We learned that everything, especially an incident like this, is a sign to those who reflect. That life and death are in the hands of our Lord and while those left behind grieve at the great loss, they also look with bittersweet emotions at the brothers and sisters who passed away right after having completed all the rites of the last and final pillar of their religion. RasoolAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“A Mabroor Hajj – complete and accepted – has no reward for it but Jannah.”
(Ibn Majah; graded sahih, Vol. 4, Book 25, hadith 2888)
“The pilgrims performing Hajj and ‘Umrah are a delegation to Allah. If they call upon Him, He will answer them; and if they ask for His forgiveness, He will forgive them.”
(Ibn Majah; graded hasan, Vol. 4, Book 25, Hadith 2892)
We learned once again that no matter what we plan and hope for, what reigns supreme is the Qadr of Allah.
We also learned some sad lessons as an ummah.
We learned that despite discipline being a core value of our religion, it is still not a value that defines us. The five daily prayers, the instructions on forming the rows during salah, the wisdom behind rules on following the ameer in every situation … they all point towards the fact that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) expects Muslims to live a disciplined, organised life.
And while we still do not know for sure what caused the stampede, it is safe to assume the pilgrims succumbed to the stressful situation they were in by violating the clearly laid out rules for movement of foot traffic.
We know that security officials pleaded with hajis to stay back but they were “too caught up with the fervour” to take heed.
Since 1992, the Saudi government has spent over £200 billion (over US$300 billion) on upgrading the Hajj sites to ensure crowd safety.
In 2008, they started a three-decade, $227-billion plan to revamp Islam’s holiest sites because by 2030, five million pilgrims are expected. Subhanallah, this ummah will increase to 2.2 billion, according to the Pew Research Center.
In an interview to the Toronto Star newspaper, Farooq Mofti an architect who is a consultant to the Saudi government expressed just how people involved with organising the hajj view this responsibility: “One day we will stand before Allah and have to answer about whether we did everything we could to improve the holy cities. This is the most important thing.”
But what caused the deaths in Mina? The official statement from Saudi Arabia states just this: The stampede appears to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.
Why did two waves of pilgrims meet at an intersection? The reason is still unknown, investigations underway. But there has been no dearth of rumours. Two of the many rumours Saudi authorities addressed were a VIP motorcade blocking key areas and a gas leak causing the incident. But if you have WhatsApp, you’ve surely heard more.
And so we learned once again that Muslims, as a community, are quick to forward messages without making the effort to cross-check their authenticity. We would rather stay on top of the game and immediately forward a message instead of choosing to err on the side of caution and making a conscious decision – I will not be the next link in this chain of rumour-mongering.
And this inability to pause and think before forwarding messages makes us easy victims to divisive forces. May be a reminder is due for all of us?
RasoolAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “It is enough lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears.” (Sahih Muslim 4482) and “Should I tell you what is a blatant lie? It is a rumor circulating among the people.” (Sahih Muslim 2606)
‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Beware of fitnah, for a word at the time of fitnah could be as devastating as the sword.”
We also learned that instead of uniting us like it should, hajj became a time when we saw just how divided we have become.
The narrative after the stampede was largely along these lines – Saudi Arabia spends billions on haj and look what happened. The authorities failed in effectively controlling the crowd. Yes, there was failure, but let’s remember that ensuring crowd safety is a collective responsibility. Each country that sends a delegation for hajj needs to educate its citizens on how to follow rules and regulations, and if such a stampede occurs, surely it is a failure on all our part.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحِلُّوا شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ وَلَا الشَّهْرَ الْحَرَامَ وَلَا الْهَدْيَ وَلَا الْقَلَائِدَ وَلَا آمِّينَ الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرِضْوَانًا وَإِذَا حَلَلْتُمْ فَاصْطَادُوا وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ أَن صَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ أَن تَعْتَدُوا وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
O you who believe! do not violate the signs appointed by Allah nor the sacred month, nor (interfere with) the offerings, nor the sacrificial animals with garlands, nor those going to the sacred house seeking the grace and pleasure of their Lord; and when you are free from the obligations of the pilgrimage, then hunt, and let not hatred of a people– because they hindered you from the Sacred Masjid– incite you to exceed the limits, and help one another in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil).
And so we learned that we as Muslims need to go back to our core values.
Complete submission to Allah, like our Father Ibrahim taught us.
Discipline and order in everything we do, like our salah teaches us five times every single day.
A principled existence, like RasoolAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions taught us, which brought Muslims the greatest victories and the sweetest moments of faith.
And beautiful patience in the face of difficulty, one that will define our future.