Many people have been writing about the Hajj from a critical perspective, telling Muslims it is a time to reflect seriously and deeply about what is happening there in Saudi Arabia with our sacred places and rituals. I am here to add my two cents to that fountain but also, to say that the Hajj we need is not in Mecca.
Even when the season of Hajj is over, it is never too late to ponder the idea that Islam is a spiritual path that encourages a way of life based on reflection, responsibility and ethical decisions. The Qur’an encourages believers through many verses to reflect on the reality surrounding the way of life and on our role in it like in 29:43, 30:21, & 30:22. Among the things Muslims should reflect on and take action concerning are firm opposition to oppression and raising their voices against injustice. That is the call of Allah in 57:25, 4:76, 4:135, 5:8, for example.
We all know what happens in Saudi Arabia. So, I wonder, if we believe the word of Allah is true: why do some of us, declaring ourselves believers, continue to fuel the arrogance, injustice and oppression of the usurpers of our Faith? Why are we still funding the oppression occurring in Saudi Arabia with performing the Hajj? Are you naive or sheep-minded or unwilling to take responsibility for the role you play in the maintenance of oppression in the name of Islam?
You pay thousands of dollars to the Saudis for the Hajj, and with that you finance a million dollar business that has nothing spiritual or halal .. yes, hear me well: HAS NOTHING HALAL ABOUT IT! Then at the Mosque, Mussala or Derga you are shocked that the Saudis invaded Yemen to kill Muslims, make deals with Zionism, leave thousands of people to die at sea without giving them shelter, torture dissidents and activists and treat women like animals. After all of that, why do you complain if you don´t have the courage to act as prescribed by the Quran and oppose injustice? Instead you fund oppression and become part of the problem. You are an oppressor by omission and payment via PayPal or Visa!
I do not want that Hajj for me. This is not the pilgrimage I am looking for as a Muslim. I will not spend my money to fund death and oppression, to endorse any system that violates the human rights of women, and to do business with my faith in a so-called pilgrimage that looks more like a tour of hedonism or an Arab version of Las Vegas. I won´t go anywhere where I am treated as a second class creature who needs permission and guidance from a male to perform rituals that are part of my private spiritual life.
If you think I should go to hell for this, then let me tell you it will not be worse than the hell that thousands of Muslim brothers and sisters suffer in the hands of so called Islamic Republics with your sponsorship and connivance. No? If not, then ¨… what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children…? ” (Quran, 4:75)
When I see how easy is for many Muslim souls to fall in arrogance, ignorance and negativity against others and the damaging effect of mainstream Islamic discourses in our communities, I think The Hajj we need as Ummah– the pilgrimage each of us must make– is not to Mecca but a journey within; an introspective journey to measure the condition of our Faith. The Hajj will remain an unshakable pillar of Islam. But if we really care about our relationship with Allah, if we want to approach as close as possible, its finest attributes, then a pilgrimage to sound the state of our commitment with Allah’s Mercy– the essence of Islam– is absolutely necessary.
It causes more joy to my soul to think of a pilgrimage towards humankind around me: a journey of discovery and encounter with The Divine in my family, my neighbors, my life partner, my friends, the children in a school that is lacking books I can donate, a shelter for battered women where I can volunteer, a conversation with my daughter about her dreams and fears.
The pillars of Islam are tools to increase awareness of Allah. That is their value and purpose. To bring us closer to Allah, make us think about our relationship with Allah, help us to make concrete decisions in our life upon that relationship. Islam is a spiritual path where the human being must consider this relationship, which is far from doing things blindly just because they are commanded.
There is a pillar of Islam that is above the Hajj and to which all act of Ibadah must subject: Tawheed, our unity with the Divine and with all the creation through it. There is no separation between our consciousness and the universal consciousness, between our person and the creation, between our intentions and their results, between our choices and their consequences.
We don´t need to go to Mecca. Hajj is done whenever you meet God and feel one with God and God´s creation.
Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a Writer, Mentor and Community Educator in Capacity Building for Grass Roots Female Leaders and Advocates. A Muslim Feminist who is an Independent Researcher of Gender and Islam in Latin America on Feminist Hermeneutics, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. She blogs in Spanish at Mezquita de Mujeres, a site dedicated to explore the links between Gender, Religion and Feminism as well to Women from the Global South as Change Makers in their communities.