The pilgrimage to Holy Kaa’ba is one of the most auspicious acts of worship in Islam. Every year, millions of Muslims from all over the globe gather in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, leaving behind millions of others who pray day and night to be granted the opportunity of performing this Holy Pilgrimage.
As traditionally performed, comprised of a series of rites involving several locations within Saudi Arab surrounding the Kaa’ba, Hajj is a somewhat complicated process, and for this reason, is meticulously planned by the Saudi authorities beforehand. Despite the arrangements made by the Saudi government, there have been several incidents over the years resulting in the loss of a good number of lives. The past nine Hajj, however, were unmarked by any tragic incident. The year 2015, on the other hand, proved to be a tough one for the Hujjaj, with two tragic incidents happening during Hajj merely a week apart.
11th September witnessed a crane crashing in Makkah, taking away the lives of some 111 Hujjaj and injuring 394 more. 24th September, however, proved to be more fatal due to a monumental stampede occurring in Mina. The deadliest accident to occur during Hajj since the 1990 disaster that killed 1,426 people, the Mina stampede is said to have a death toll between 1100-4000 – a census unable to be reached due to conflicting reports. Speculations have been flying regarding the causes of the incident, ranging from sectarian conflict to mismanagement on the part of Saudi authorities.
What we need to understand, however, is that instead of flinging accusations regarding the causes of the stampede, the Muslim world needs to unite in face of such a calamity, rather than disintegrate into sectarian factions feuding amongst each other. Instead of wasting our time endlessly arguing over who is to blame, we ought to channel our time and energies into praying for the deceased, and attempt to at least lessen the grief of the mourning families they left behind.
Despite the pain, grief, and sorrow surrounding the incident, there is one silver lining on the cloud, and that is the status of ‘shaheed’ that each Haji achieved on his or her death in the incident. It would not be an exaggeration to term it as the highest of all honors to die while worshipping Allah, at His home, in the state of Wuzu. Indeed, the thousands of Hujjaj who lost their lives at Mina, found the most precious treasure – Jannah.