I just completed Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) earlier today and will be heading for Hajj (greater pilgrimage) tomorrow.
A Saudi official stated to me that there is a 20% increase of pilgrims this year from last. Just imagine in a city like Detroit if 2.5 million people converged on it speaking hundreds of different languages. It would be complete pandamonium but not here.
Despite what I think regarding some of the laws here and customs such as women not being able to drive and women being required to wear headscarves except in Jeddah, the Saudis are very hospitable. No rip off scams, no muggings by the locals, etc.
The greater sign is that the blessing of Islam is that it can bring together all of these people, who don’t know each other to cooperate in peace and harmony to perform their rituals in rememberance of G-d.
I’ve met a number of nice people and had brief conversations from Saudi and Emirati (UAE) officials to British and Senegalese pilgrims. I had a brief conversation on my 4 fourth round during Sai’y with two gents from Sheffield, UK.
Despite the enormous problems they’re having at home, I’ve seen a number of Somali pilgrims. I smiled when I saw a large delegation of Bosnian pilgrims, who were all elderly persons making Sai’y.
The Iranian delegation is the largest that I’ve seen here so far. I hope that they stop with all of the pushing, especially the women! (Side comment for any of you who are under the false impression that Iranian and Muslim women in general are docile and weak.)
I’ll be blogging more about my experiences in the coming days, G-d willing.