Minimized, Marginalized and Caged Kaaba
In world religions pilgrimage has been designed to help instill an escalating sense of spiritual sublimation for specific some and open a window towards understanding God for the rest, more lucidly than the putridity the mullah, pundit or the priest likes to present. Official God is invariably furious, punishing and per se hard on the worshippers. Whereas a pilgrims’ God is, though a bit reclusive ,but affectionate, patronizing and generous .His occasional stopovers at difficult destinations asking pilgrims to endure hardships reaching there are taken as His kind desire to soothe their spiritual aches and pains when they reach there. That is why despite difficulties of the passage people flock to known religious sites like Makka, Char Dham, kumbh, Gaya, Lhasa and the Fifth Mountain suffering privation, disease ,discomfort and even death just to feel one with and experience an unadulterated communion with their God.
Pilgrimage is essentially a journey of the tender sentiments which deserves a different and a superior kind of respect .To term it as religious tourism is an atrocity committed upon subtle perceptions and the very spirit of the intended undertaking. It indicates a sad poverty of sensitivity towards delicate matters of the soul. This term tends to denote a primary place given to commercial interests to which pilgrimage is thought of as a secondary activity. If so it is a terribly wrong perception of the whole matter and lends itself to injurious initiatives to promote or develop the same. Since thousands of years in the Sub continent and elsewhere in the world, major religious sites have been the melting pot of related humanity seeking spiritual solace, where goods are sold and purchased for profit and daily needs, for religious keepsake and out of curiosity. Therefore commercial transactions have been an intrinsic part of the pilgrimage package in every religion but at a deferentially lower pedestal.
Saudi Kingdom, under a strange logic has clubbed Hajj and Umra, two purely religious Muslim streams under their Ministry of Tourism, much more thoughtlessly than Pakistan who for some unknown reason placed Hajj and Auqaf( religious sites and properties of local saints etc) under one dome. Ours could be a result of the lack of a proper thought but theirs is by design.This Saudi act of commission could be overlooked if it had rested just there but it has started to bruise and contaminate the whole delicate notion in hard physical terms.
Saudi clergy and the state are not so infused with religious zest to show any great attachment with Islamic heritage, sites, cities and personalities. There is a conscious effort to distance from and obliterate identities of Islamic relics, ruins and battlefields of Holy Prophet’s time.What they do not seem to understand how irreplaceable are these in the Islamic world’s veneration. That battles of Uhud, Badr and Trenches will never be fought again and that Holy Prophet and his revered companions will never come to live again. Therefore their invaluable relics are to be preserved and not destroyed. This unseemly practice is in keeping with the violent genesis of the Saudi Kingdom and the towering ambitions of the founder of Wahabism. Emergence of Saudi Kingdom in the Arabian Peninsula was an accident of history. However Imam Wahab had different ideas. He was bent upon discrediting all sites and remnants of ancient and authentic Islamic heritage, both in moral and material domains, by his version of dehumanized and harsh Islam. He chose Madina’s traditional adversary neighborhood known as Najd as his base next to Al e Saud’s ancestral tribal territory. Saudis were looking for legitimacy to rule whereas Imam Wahab was seeking political patronage to enforce his dogma. Therefore convergence of interests brought the two contenders together to work under a mutually agreed compact to advance each other’s agenda.
Their combined thrust against ancient and adjusted Islam injected confrontation and polarization where Wahabists were predominant in the Peninsula and latter in the Muslim world .Geographic location of Makka and Madina with-in the Saudi state compounds the accident of history into an equation for disaster in Islam. Control by conquest of these two holy cities tends to confer authenticity and acceptance among Muslim masses, of almost all the vibes emanating from that alliance of convenience .This deliberately induced conflict precipitated by the twain at the heart of Islam is the primary basis of unfolding divisiveness and murderous schism in the Islamic world.
Their greatest disservice to Islam had been to interject intolerance and belligerence amongst sects in Muslim societies and pitch them against well settled politico-religious regional environments and state systems. As a result of this extremely myopic Wahabist thrust and a corroborative but unthinking submission of the ordinary Muslims to their dark ideology, we have gradually come to be regarded one with terrorism. There could be nothing more regressive than this sentiment which could hardly be washed except through a huge collective effort to redeem ourselves from the pal of their delusive influence.
Hypothetically speaking actions taken in good faith should ordinarily result in desirable consequences. However it is neither a rule nor always the effects as worthy. Saudis claim to have undertaken such an exercise at a massive scale in and around Kaaba in Makka. Their declared aim is to facilitate pilgrims to Makka by providing living spaces as close to Kaaba as is possible. As a result,historic mountains around Kaaba are being gouged out, buildings demolished and revered places of early Islamic heritage are being wiped out of existence to make way for the Manhattan style sky rise hotels, shopping malls and designer outlets of all international denominations .
Landscape around Kaaba has simply become convoluted and crazy.That pristine aura of divinity and pure ancience from the times of Prophet Abraham has been vitiated under the crushing iron tracks of heavy construction machinery, absolutely inconceivably. Centuries old iconic Turkish circular marble veranda with its neatly arranged small white domes that went all around the place has been thoughtlessly demolished for the sake of widening the Kaaba’s court. Instead, huge concrete monsters are being built with the help of gigantic gantries, bulldozers and incessantly clanking mechanical rooters. Sky cranes dominate the Kabala’s ambience like huge dinosaurs swinging their booms lifting all kinds of construction materials around the place.At any given time of the day or night terrible clatter raised by these huge machines never stops and the air remains filled with concrete dust, electric welding smells , diesel smoke and wafts of typical Saudi heavy perfume.
Kaaba seems to sit shrunken and morose at the pit’s humble bottom, tentative and literally, at the feet of awful aberrations like enormous Makka Clock Tower , other high rise hotels and palaces less than hundred yards from the heart of Kaaba itself. To add insult to injury it has been surrounded by a two storied steel structure hoping to facilitate pilgrims circle around but literally caging in the House of God. It is a pathetic site to see Kaaba only through steel cross bars of the giant cage so built. It is a pity Islam’s foremost shrine seems to have been uncovered, stressed and minimized with such dreadful insensitivity for commercial reasons. Makka Clock Tower reportedly belongs to the blue eyed Bin Ladens and should be the most expensive real estate in the world. Makka is never going to be the same again. One has never felt so shriveled in spirit as this time around.