I was going to put a comical picture, but in light of the recent events with Denmark, I think its best if I didn’t… I don’t want the Muslim world to boycott this blog.
Anyway, I’ll try to be as funny as possible without jeopardizing the integrity of the subject. I promise.
Awwww… Screw it… Here's the picture.
(Now here's someone who knows what he's doing)
Today is the day. I woke up terrified. Why was I terrified? Was it because of the anticipation? Was it fear? Fear of not getting what I expected to get out of Hajj? Ok… What are my expectations? To spiritually connect with the divine? To be awed by the magnificence of this holy event, this ritual that, give or take the small changes, has been passed down to us generation after generation? Am I fearing disappointment? I heard so many things about how one can’t help buy cry as he or she repents from his sinful life. And how if you don’t feel forgiven and clean after your Hajj, then that reflects just how impure one is. What if I don’t experience these things?
Or… am I afraid that this pillar that my faith is greatly built upon would fall, crumbling down by the foolishness of man, by the idiocy of man (For all you feminists nodding, by Man I mean mankind) following a regime just for the sake of their insecurities, like sheep being shepherded into an abyss…
* * *
Why so many people? I’m here in Madina, visiting the resting place of the Prophet (S) and I begin to ask myself what could be the motivational factor behind all those people here? Could it be their love of anthropology? Are there really that much Indiana Joneses in this world? Could it be that they are seeking closeness to the Prophet? I have nothing against that, but correct me if I’m wrong (actually don’t correct me, my ego is fragile as it is), if those people want to feel closer to the Prophet, they seek a kinship, a bond with the Prophet, maybe they could act a little more like him, maybe! What good is it to touch the grave of the Prophet and 2 weeks later when you’re back home, in the grocery store, you cut in line and disrespect all those people abiding by the rules? (Oh sorry, no that’s totally different… Why? There were no grocery stores and grocery stores’ lines in the old days… Yeah sorry, forgive my ignorance!)
Anyway, I asked myself why I was there and I guess I was there as a witness.
* * *
“If you didn’t visit Hamza (the Prophet’s uncle), then you didn’t visit the Prophet, and if you didn’t visit the Prophet then blah blah blah blah” (I zoned out right about here)…
It’s brilliant how they tie and entangle everything together. It’s like a chain, and if you gulped up a single piece of the chain, you’re hooked! That’s it. All they have to do is reel you in like a fish that swallowed the bait.
There was a phrase I heard somewhere (I think it was the X-Files show… I know, I know my credibility just took a dive, but it doesn’t matter where I got the phrase… anyway)
It goes along the lines of “the best place to hide a lie is between two truths”. Now I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone, calling them liars, but something is wrong here.
The continuity of this whole belief gives me the willies. “They” come to you and ask you this simple question,
“Do you believe in God?” (Fact 1)
“Yes” I reply simple-mindedly
“Do you believe in the Prophet?” (Fact 2)
“I do” Unaware of what is to follow, I answer
Then Fact 1 is linked to Fact 2 and Fact 2 will be linked to Fact 3 and Fact 3 to Fact 4 and so on… The next thing I know is that we’re talking about, well actually, they are talking and I’m listening, jotting down instructions on how to peel a banana and eat it properly. What the heck?!! I try to retrace how it got to this but the chain is set. Fact 124221 which is linked to that great chain that leads back to Fact 1 clearly states that to peel a banana you have to be wearing non-American jeans… (I’m exaggerating a bit, but I think the point I’m trying to convey is clear).
And the minute you try to question the chain or the regime, they put you back into place with “after-life threats”.
Let me just explain the term “after-life threats”. We believe that there is a Heaven and Hell correct? And that this life on earth is but a short life and the eternal, everlasting life is actually the one after this life. So if someone is pointing a gun at you, in this life, and demanding that you do something or else he’ll rob you from your life by killing you, how different is that from someone demanding you do something or else you’ll be robbed out of your next life, which is actually more important, and everlasting!?
(I just want to point out that when I stated about how we believe about Heaven and Hell, it seemed like another chain right? My Fact 1? Well you can question anything and everything I write. So there you have it)
Well my answer to them would be that even Fact 1, the fact that there is a God, God himself (herself… doesn’t really matter does it?) dared his (again, her) followers in the Holy Quran to question. And when they do question, they will see the truth… Without daringly questioning everything, one cannot reach the truth.
* * *
The criers… O’ man o’ man o’ man… How I love the criers. What is it with the crying? Is it really their sense of loss towards whatever cause they believe in? Or do they have problems and need to vent? I’ve seen people lose 3 kilos (6.6138 pounds) just from crying (not really… but that would be funny wouldn’t it?). I think Kuwait really needs to change its views towards shrinks and therapy. We need to accept it and support it.
Is there a connection I missed out on? Is it a rule of thumb that to be a good believer you have to cry? What’s behind those tears Jack? What’s behind those tears Jane? Is it fear of Hell? Is it Love of God? Or is it the next payment on the car due in 3 days?
It feels terrible, being in the middle of so many criers. Mourning and crying all around me and I’m staring at the ceiling counting cracks, or thinking about lunch, looking left and right, and if my eyes unintentionally crossed paths with another person, I’d nod in an apologetic manner to try to express how sorry I am in not being able to join them in their mourning. And they'd nod back, and I’m sure they’re thinking “insensitive jack-ass”
And in turn, I'd nod back… I'd nod back…
* * *
Still to come…
Chapter 4 - God’s Credit List
Chapter 5 - Braveheart (tentative release)
Chapter 6 - Hajj now. Hajj back then
Chapter 7 - Anger Management
Chapter 8 - Throwing Stones
Chapter 9 - Literally vs. Figuratively