Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hajj Preparation

So the other day I received a call from FANAR letting me know that they were having an event that discussed the rites and rituals of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. I always love cultural things like this so on Saturday afternoon I went to the Moza bint Mohammed Center (near the American School), where the event was being held.

I forwarded the invitation to some people in the office but unfortunately they couldn't attend. I didn't bother forwarding it to any of the Qataris or other Muslims since I didn't think they would need to attend a lecture on Hajj. To my surprise most of the attendees were Muslim! It turns out that the Muslim attendees were all planning to go to Hajj this year so wanted instructions as to what to do. Well, FANAR and the Ministry for Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) did better than that . . .

They made replicas of all the major things involved in Hajj so that they could demonstrate what to do!


The Kaaba and walls . . . etc surrounding it (Muslims were warned: when you do your seven laps around the Kaaba taking a shortcut by going in front of that hemispheric wall negates the lap)



The hallway that takes you back and forth between Al-Safa and Al Marwah (the area in the middle is for the disabled so they will not get crushed by the crowd)



The clothing men (white) and ladies (black, although ladies can wear a white version if they wish) that you must wear when performing the Hajj. It also adds a sense of equality to the pilgrimage because all Muslims performing the Hajj, rich or poor, will be essentially wearing the same thing.




There was even a sandy area to show the challenges in finding pebbles for the Stoning of the Pillars ritual. (Tip: you might have better luck looking under your tent)



Replicas of the pillars, and in the background is the mountain near Mina where you spend the day praying. There were even examples of the tents that you may be sleeping in during the Hajj. Muslims were instructed on how to throw the pebbles (don't throw too hard, they might ricochet off the pillars and hit someone)


All in all I thought that was pretty cool. They even gave me a nice gift . . .




Water from the holy Zamzam Well in Mecca! That was nice of them. I'll hold onto it and probably give it to a Muslim who has not been to Hajj. Muslims also received a hardcopy book (Arabic or English) about the specifics of the Hajj rituals.











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