History has it that the Patriarch Abraham sacrificed a lamb in Ka’ba at the last second instead of slaying his son, as soon as he heard God’s voice to do so. DÃ©jÃ vu all over again. The recent stampede incident, that has been repeated over the past many years during Hajj, has devastingly resulted yet again in thousands killed, maimed and injured.
This has re-alarmed the Islamic and international communities about the flagrant disregard for the pilgrims’ safety by the “Kingdom” of Saudi Arabia and the egregious ineptitude to safely manage the ten day religious rituals that roll in tens of billions of dollars by the pilgrims into the Saudi economy. Further, Hajj gives the House of Saud a special place in the Muslim world as they push Arab ultra-nationalism as synonymous to their self-declared Islamic hegemony.
Whereas there are still no reliable figures, some independent and eyewitness sources put the number of pilgrims killed at over 4,000 and the number of injured at tens of thousands. What is most baffling is the disproportionately high number of at least 500 Iranians killed and 1,000 injured, as stated by Iran. The shear reality that such annual barbaric incidents occuring during Hajj are ubiquitously met by Saudi ambivalence is all the more perplexing. While the Saudi authorities dodged accountability by putting the blame on the “disorderly” Nigerian pilgrims, eyewitnesses from this year’s stampede describe the catastrophe ensuing when two emerging massive Hajji pedestrians from the tent city in Mecca came to a halt at a merging crossroad and where the pilgrims were flood-gated abruptly so the privileged royal prince’s motorcade could securely pass through.
After a long week of neglecting the incident, and presumably in a reluctant response to the international community, the Saudi King finally emerged from the royal closet to express his condolences to Iran. Ironically, a number of Iranian diplomats are reported to have been mysteriously kidnapped by the Saudi security forces.
Personally, I remain melancholically heartbroken for lives lost that include my own beloved uncle’s family of four, including two children. Three killed, bodies returned home to Iran, and my physician cousin in her late 30s, presumably kidnapped by the Saudis (the kidnapping of beautiful young women, some even married, especially those from Iran, is a routine practice condoned or not investigated by the Saudi Arabian authorities). As odd as that may seem to people around the globe, let us remind ourselves that slavery is condoned by the Sunni (Wahhabi) Sharia law and still practiced in the Arabian Peninsula today.
Ka’ba (meaning cube), the black meteor surrounded with a cubic building covered in black shroud in Mecca, around which the pilgrims must hastily orbit seven times, was the center of idols and annual idol worshiping congregations since the pre-Islamic pagan era. In fact, among the many tribally owned idols in Mecca before Islam, Al-Llat , Al- ManÄt, and Al-‘UzzÃ¡ were the most revered by the Quraysh and Taif tribes to which Mohammad belonged. Abdullah, the Mohammad’s father who died before his birth from Ameneh, was said to have served as the main caretaker of Al-Llat. For the first fifteen years after the advent of Islam, Qiblah, the destination towards which Muslims pray five times daily, consisting of 17 genuflections and 34 prostrations before God, was moved from Beit-o-Moghaddas in Jerusalem to Mecca. In fact, there still exists a mosque with two Qiblahs in Medina called Masjid ol Qiblatayn from which, during the first few years after Hijrah, prayers were conducted and it was equally acceptable to stand toward Mecca or Jerusalem. Hajj brings millions of pilgrims, along with billions of dollars, to Mecca and the Saudi economy. As for the 200 million Shiites worldwide, accused by the Wahhabi regime of Saudi Arabia as blasphemous and heretic, Iran should substitute Hajj to Mecca with a pilgrimage to one of its existing shrines. For believers, God is said to be everywhere.
With the US now ranked as the number one producer of oil, gas, coal and renewable energy resources, and with the price of oil commodities at their lowest level for the past 20 years, Saudi Arabia and its miniscule satellite sheikdoms along the southern shores of the Persian Gulf are losing their “strategic” importance. Thus, if the US is serious about eradicating terrorism then it must directly deal with Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud, with American blessing, conceived, ideologically nurtured and financed ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.
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This post was written by Pirouz Azadi