A Visit to Mecca
This year November 4-9 the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca (Mekkah) takes place. The Hajj. The Five Pillars of Islam have this event listed for all Muslims to achieve once in their lifetime. From all over the world Muslims obtain Visas (if they can) and travel to Saudi Arabia and then to Mecca. Mecca is the home of the Kaaba. It is also where Muhammad was born, where he had his first Revelation (in 610), his tribe the Quarish dwelled (as keepers of the Kaaba) and where Muhammad began Islam. Muslims take this pilgrimage as a cleansing process. If they spend their time there in prayer and serious contemplation of Islam, reading the Quran, walking where Muhammad walked, having a pure heart, praying and observing the rituals required, their sins, those collected from birth, can be erased. They will be renewed and be sinless as at birth.
Original Sin Corrupted by Freedom and Temptation
The Muslims do not believe in Original Sin. Christians do. The Fall that occurred in the Garden of Eden was a downfall for all mankind, except, one could say, for the Muslim. Expelled from the Garden for being disobedient towards God, eating from the fruit of the forbidden tree, man died a spiritual death, the process of physical decay began as well. In UI – Part 120 – Is Freedom a Problem for a Christian The Eden Complex is discussed.
Born without sin, from the day after birth corruption can enter the life of a Muslim, freedom and doubts filling their minds and causing temptations. Succumbing to temptations the clean temple of the body of a Muslim is no longer pure. Mecca, a successful Hajj, can provide the return to Eden, if just for the few days of this visit. The corruption and acquiescence to temptations begins anew. Salvation remains Allah’s alone; His decision, His choice.
The assemblage of humanity appears in Mecca dressed in white, men and women alike, the head covered, looking pristine, appearing as one suspects we would appear before God (before Allah) on Judgment Day. It is a precursor to the future. Mecca is not Eden, though.
Why Mecca and not Jerusalem? Muhammad entered Mecca to defeat the pagans and cleanse the Kaaba of its collection of many idols. His monotheistic theme began in Mecca. He and his few followers at the time were a threat to the established system and they had cause to leave, traveling and settling in Medina. In Medina Muhammad gained greater respect for his one God (Allah) thinking and vowed to return to Mecca and make his tribe and other tribes agree to his ideology alone, that of Islam. He built and funded an army to do so. Call it jihad – a means to enable non-believers to convert, by force if necessary. Out of fear for their lives, when faced with an army of thousands, the locals in Mecca laid down their weapons. Muhammad and his army circled the Kaaba several times, then entered and removed the many symbols of other beliefs, even one of Christ.
Mecca is the focus for Muslims
Muhammad never set foot in Jerusalem. The Story of His Night Journey establishes with interpretation Muhammad’s connection there. By magic carpet, or the like, actually a white donkey, Muhammad in a dream was transported to the location, what the Muslims now claim is the Dome of the Rock, and ascended 7 levels to reach Allah and Paradise. This was 9 years after his first Revelation. He was still in Mecca. Muhammad was carried “from the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Mosque…” and that is all the Quran says (Sura 17:1). Specific locations, certainly not Jerusalem or the term Jerusalem, are not noted. Otherwise the Hajj might be to Jerusalem.
Arab Spring in Mecca
This is the first Hajj since the Arab Spring and the upheavals in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Will the young on pilgrimage compare notes, get together and plan further revolutions? This is a concern of the Saudi protectors of the area and they have been restricting Visas from the Muslims areas noted. 5 million could gather. Will there be peace? Will there be a celebration of a change in attitudes of the Islamists towards Wahhabis strict Quranic rules? Will the Islamists declare this Arab Spring as a renewal of Sharia Law and the destruction of secular governance as a consideration. Tunisia and Turkey have secular governments. Will we see a push towards reform and at the same time a pull away from reform. How will the youth, the Twitter and Facebook adept, communicate and what will they communicate while visiting this most sacred place. Near to God, will God tell them change, or revert back to the 7th Century?
Watch. The free world may have allowed for the restoration of increased Sharia compliance in the liberated Muslim countries, an error of judgment or foreign diplomatic inabilities, or the first step may have been taken for the young to establish their foothold on their future and decide whether they want more freedom and less Islamic Law – or more.
May all who travel this year on pilgrimage be safe. At the same time I pray you are open-minded and indeed seeking the truth. Be not taken in by the ceremony and display, but by the heart and mind. Be independent and explore the why. Ask why each day.
Grace and Peace