By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
September 1, 2013
Just like the Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and other similar woods, that are huge multibillion dollar Film and entertainment industries to satisfy mankind’s needs; so too there are in most religions Holy-woods where people flock to satisfy human spiritual needs.
It may not be palatable to approach this subject in such terms, but there is no denying that these places for religious pilgrimages are ultimately huge “business” enterprises
It is understandable therefore that those who have ‘vested interests’ in this business and those who have been conditioned to accept the propagated religions, going back centuries, for benefits for themselves in this world, would brand this sort of questioning as being a product of “mad”/Majnoon mind, but give no arguments to cure the Junoon of those who track there for the benefits of the “Hereafter”!
As the Frenchman Stendhal said “All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few” holds true. Millions of customers who track there in “fear” to lighten the burden of guilt and attain spiritual enlightenment, fork out large sums for this service by the clever few!
A Peruvian priest at the Virgin Marry shrine in the Andes, who administers religious rites to pilgrims and blesses them on payment said, that though he dislikes this business, he has to do his duty for the poor pilgrims’ spirituality. And then there is the competition in the business to counter from the pagan Medicine-men too!
The annual pilgrimage of Haj for multitude of Muslims today is part of that spiritual tracking to Makkah, for mass confession and for absolution of sin to come out cleansed by washing with holy water.
In the process just one State comes out economically better off. In fact causing a heavy foreign exchange drain on other countries in the process.
Admittedly individual Muslims, return with a title of Hajjee or Hajjah, without being tapped on the shoulder by a royal sword for that! In some communities though, the Haji also earns the right to take more wives.
Other than that….. no gains!
“Kiyaa woh Namrood kee khhudayi thhi”—was that the godliness of Nimrod?
“Bandagi may meraa bhalaa nah huwa”—that my worship of him came to naught!
Haj is ordained in Quran, and it has attached to it practical and beneficial aspects 22-28 for the humanity - “annaas—2-125 & 22-27” in the creative unity of the Creator.
But in its present strictly religious and hand-me-down ritualistic form, a monarchy has turned it into a monopoly of worldly “business” 2-79. (3-77etc)
In a poet’s words then:-
“Zaghon’ kay tassaruf may hai a’qaabon’ kaa nasheman”. –Crows are now squatters in the Eagle’s eyrie.
The young scholar Dr Rashid Shaz has this to say in his article on “Undoing the Church in Islam”:-
“The Qura'n as it was revealed on Mohammed is available to us, even today. But the religious leadership among Muslims, “the hidden church”, or the invisible Vatican does not allow us to engage with the revelation on our own. We are free to recite but not to interpret.”!
With the intellectual liberty given by the Book as referred to below, one can then ask a few pertinent questions about these rites at the Muslim Vatican in Makkah. However these are based on three significant points of arguments that are, Belief/Iman, the universality of all Messengers message and the distribution of wealth, yunfiqoon:-
1-The criterion for Belief for acceptance of any Code, requires conviction with intelligence. This is given in 25-73, a chapter appropriately named the ‘Criterion’: “Indeed those who when reminded of God’s revelations (of codes), do not stoop at them as if they were Deaf and Blind.” Ignorant following is therefore intellectual blindness!
The “Belief” is quite appropriately defined in the very beginning of the Book in chapter 2 verses 3 & 4.
The basis for “Belief” is best expressed with its full translated text;- 2-4 “…and those who Believe in the revelation sent to you and that sent to (messengers) before your time”. Reference of this appears tens of times.
2-The Believer is commanded to follow “all Messengers” 2-4, 3-84, 3-144 and 4-150 to 152:- “To those who believe in God and make no distinction between any of the Messengers,” Emphasising that the “message” delivered was one and the same by all messengers, and therefore of one purport in its essence to be complied with.
“Nothing is said to you (Muhammad) that was not said to Messengers before you…”.
3-“yunfiqoon”- meaning free flowing, open-ended, and unrestricted for distribution of sustenance. This appears same number of times.
It lays down the fundamentals of the distribution of surplus wealth; and therefore forms the basis of economic system of a “Believing” nation.
But this being an involved and complex subject, it is best left to the ‘learned experts’ to elaborate a complex issue. Suffice it to say that it addresses distribution of “surplus wealth”. Its extravagant spending by those in charge is grossly disliked. “God does not love the extravagant, 28-76 etc”
This wealth belongs to Humanity as a whole. The squattocracy of “Custodians” are entitled to take what is their just wages and expenses related to the management and distribute the rest to humanity.
Now to pose the questions:
As the pilgrimage to Makkah was “ordained” for the final Messenger of God, then, logically it must have been ordained “without exception” for all previous Messengers too?
But apart from the contentious issue of Abraham- Ibrahim - and his family having previously visited Makka/Bakka and “raised the foundation for God’s service 2-127”, there is no reference to any other previous Messenger having visited to perform hajj in Makka. Not even Isa-Jesus of Nazareth, who among all the previous Messengers was the nearest in time and space to Muhammad the Messenger!
Also, how is one to reconcile this clear statement: - 34-44: “We had NOT given them (the Arabs) Books which they could study, nor sent apostles to them before you as warners”?
IF it is argued that the tyranny of distance prevented the previous Messengers from undertaking this hazardous journey – on camels and donkeys- from their distant home towns to the city of Makkah, then how was it that Abraham and his family centuries before, undertook to travel the farthest distance, from Mesopotamia to Arabia?
What of “Yaseen” which Muslims recite at least once a week, 36-6: “In order that you (Muhammad) may warn people (Arabs) whose forefathers had NOT received such warning previously and therefore they remained unaware” also 32-3. Does not this suggest to a simple minded person, that Arabs had no Messenger visiting them prior to Muhammad?
And what does one make of Abraham’s own cry of anguish: 3-67, 6-76 &79, 6-162 where he eventually turns his attention towards none but the “primal creator of the Heavens and earth”, and rejecting all the other pagan and physical symbols and objects “the idols”, including those carved by his father, that he had thought were powerful and worthy of worship as gods?
The above then begs the question- did the previous Messengers, with the confusing exception of Abraham, disobey God’s commands?
Did Abraham and his family visit Makkah? Is there something amiss here, intentionally and/or lost in translation?
Another poet echoes Abrahams anguish:-
“Nah Rab Tirath nah Rab Makkay” – The Lord is neither in Tirath nor in Makkah
“jis paa tis noor anwaar” – In all direction is Your brightness and glory.
Was Aristotle right then in saying: “No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness”?
The Holy-wood industries have lot to lose if ‘excellent souls’ like the above and many others like them ask such seemingly ‘mad’ questions that would undermine their monopoly of trade. There are yet many more questions in this regard.
But God has granted man-kind, including women-kind, intelligence to separate the chaff and to establish what is for the greater good of Humanity and not be coned by the “cleverness of the few”.
To be branded “worse than animals 7-179”, to an intelligent human being is insulting!
Quran’s extolling the use of intelligence 3-90 etc. and in this new age of applied intelligence, indulging blindly in ritualised rites, devised by the trinity of- ‘Pharaohs Hamans and Kohras’ all rolled into one, must be questioned.
Extracting “benefits” for humanity in this world, is the test of “spiritually” for the Hereafter. Spirituality of progress and achievements! Strangely enough in this context there is a supplication that Muslims have adopted for every prayer – 2-201 “our Lord give us good in this world and good in the hereafter…”.
Muslims should heed the Book, and not be taken for an expensive ride through the Holy-woods!
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is An Australian-Indian retired Engineer