Further insights from Hajj trip

My recent trip to Hajj was so rich, that it’s taking me quite a bit of time to disgest it.

I will be writing soon, G-d willing, a piece on the intellectual reasoning of why Al-Qaeda/Al-Qaeda types primarily target Muslims, which compromise up to 85% of their casualities.  My interactions with scholars and hearing directly from people in the region were very insightful regarding this issue as well as two books that I was given in Saudi Arabia on the subject written by Mufti Abdul-Azeez ibn Abillah Aali Shaykh and Shaykh Muhammad Walad Muhammad An-Naajim.  One thing is for certain in my mind is that the Saudi scholars and government  are seriously confronting the criminality of hiraabah (unlawful warfare) and irhaab (terrorism). 

In Mina prior to my appearance on Saudi TV 2, I had a very interesting conversation with a Ugandan journalist, who was also making Hajj.  The gentleman stated that people are reverting to Islam at high rates in Rwanda in part to the protection that Muslim Hutus gave to Tutsis during the genocide when Hutus were involved in ethnic cleansing.  I was asked if I was willing to come to speak to the Muslim community in Uganda; G-d willing, I’ll make it over there. 

Back to my appearance on Saudi TV 2, Newsweek contributor Lorraine Ali and I gave an uninterrupted interview for an hour about our experiences while on Hajj as well as the state of Muslims in America.  The interviewer asked many questions relating to Islamophobia, in particular the Park51 controversy and anti-Muslim rhetoric in right-wing media.  I personally was surprised that so much of the interview was devoted to the issue of Islamophobia, and how American Muslims need to be doing more in confronting Islamophobia given the international stature of America.

I’ll be writing more, G-d willing, as more comes to my mind.

Saudis say 20% more pilgrims this year than last

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.