Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Hajj is a sacred religious duty/responsibility. Muslims around the globe have been performing it since centuries. Moreover, Al-Saud of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been successfully conducting Hajj for more than 70 years. It has been journey of best service, management, and implementation of different associated facilities and as well as policies.
Hajj 2015 unfortunately, brings human tragedy too. According to Saudi official figures more than 1100 pilgrims were reported killed during a fatal stampede. It started unnecessary blame game and Hajj as a mere religious duty became center of power politics among the different countries. Hajj is as an instrument for Muslim unity and togetherness must not be spoiled due to some human errors on part of some elderly pilgrims, innocent children or women.
Hajj reflects complete submission to Allah Al-Mighty which must not be sabotaged for some vested interests. Hajj stands for simplicity, sacrifice and of course sensibility which must not be used for any kind of social black-mailing. In happiness, and sorrow, prosperity and poverty, hope and horrendous and the last but not the least, strength and weakness, we all as human beings accountable to our creator i.e. Allah. It is the will of Allah which always prevails. We fight with everything but not with our fates.
Sometime the best security system gets collapsed because of nothing. Sometime, the best management apparatus do not work properly because of unseen reasons. Sometime the best prevention tools cannot save precious human lives because of natural disasters. Perfection only belongs to Allah and we can only sincerely try.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a center of spirituality and Muslim unity, has already ordered to probe the Mina tragedy. It is taking all possible measures to rescue the pilgrims. Facilities of medications are totally free. Process of dead identification has already been started which is now lessening the human sufferings of unlimited pilgrims.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a responsible country always stood first to lessen the suffering of struggling people around the world with its unmatched humanitarian campaigns and financial generosity. It has already granted one million Saudi Riyals to each dead pilgrims of Mecca incident. The culprit construction company has been banned.
This year due to so many complicated reasons, the level of security was very high. There was massive deployment of Saudi’s army even within the Kaaba. More than 100,000 security personnel were stationed for the safety of all the pilgrims. Supporting staff, para medical, nurses, doctors and even volunteers/scouts were there to help the pilgrims. Rescue unit was fully operational. Medical unit was very active.
Doctors, nurses and para medical staff was interactive with the people and pilgrims too for any kind of medical treatment. Ambulances were easily available. Communication means were also there to give comfort to pilgrims. Infrastructural facilities were at its best. Everything was perfect but somehow, impatience of groups of pilgrims and their hasty nature produced shock and awe which resultant a human tragedy at Jamarat Bridge.
The death tolls given by foreign officials and international media so far are: Pakistan,45; Iran, 131; Morocco, 87; India, 14; Egypt, 14; Somalia, 8; Senegal, 5; Tanzania, 4; Turkey, 4; Algeria, 3; Kenya, 3; Indonesia, 3; Burundi, 1; and Netherlands, 1. More than 850 were injured during the symbolic stoning of the devil at Mina. May Allah bless them all.
Afterwards, social media started elements of slants. Spin doctrine of different factions, sects and pressure groups started their web-orbits for disinformation and disbelief. Manipulation of media items and optics tried to ruin the Muslim unity. Right from the beginning, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia prefers the safety of pilgrims and there has not been any compromise on it. Foreign dignitaries and high officials always use a separate channel to perform their religious rituals during Hajj or Umrah as a standard protocol. Not a single incident ever reported during last 70 years where a common path/way/channel remained closed for any dignitary or high official during Hajj and Umrah. Nevertheless, King Salman of Saudi Arabia quickly ordered an urgent safety review into the causes of the crush, to be chaired by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef.
Saudi officials denied reports that the stampede was linked to the arrival in Mina of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the Saudi defence minister, and his security entourage as reported by the Arabic-language daily al-Diyar. A statement from the Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, strongly denied the allegations, saying: “This is a malicious claim and completely untrue. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s senior dignitaries’ vehicles do not travel through this area.” His statement blamed “Iranian state controlled channels” for starting the rumours.
There was no sign of a VIP presence; their heads uncovered, collapsing due to the heat as Saudi boy scouts and security sprayed them with cold water. The Saudi health minister, Khalid al-Falih, claimed the pilgrims had been undisciplined. He told local television: “The accident, as most know, was a stampede caused by overcrowding, and also caused by some of the pilgrims not following the movement instructions of the security and hajj ministry.”
Military spokesman Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and exhaustion may have contributed to the disaster, and that there was no indication the authorities were to blame. “Unfortunately, these incidents happen in a moment,” he told Associated Press.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader has said that the stampede, the worst disaster in a quarter-century to strike the annual event, was beyond human control. “You are not responsible for what happened”, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh told Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in a meeting in Mina, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.
It is Allah’s will which always prevails. Religion and its associated rituals must not be used for provoking blames and hatred among the innocent Muslims. Religion must be above power politics. Abuses of social media are promoting sentiments of disunity and discomfort among the different factions and sects of the Muslim’s society which needs to be checked with iron hands.
Hajj is the matter of devotion and not destruction. Hajj is the performance of true spirits and not bad schemes. Hajj is a point of cooperation and coordination which must not be used for confrontation and conspiracy.
Nevertheless, there must be improvements in the management of the hajj and its associated operations so that this incident is not repeated because human life is as scared and precious as religion.