Thoughts on the Hajj

Hello folks, its been a while since the last entry. Nevertheless I’d like to take this timely opportunity during the month of Dhul al-Hijjah to share with you two pieces related to the fifth pillar of Islam- the Hajj.

Beyond the spiritual aspects of the Hajj, these articles highlight issues related to how this fifth pillar has been practiced by Muslims, and more importantly dealing with contemporary issues that have surfaced over the years.

A Green Hajj? by Najma Mohammed on Islam Online, 8 Nov 2009

Ensuring Good Health during the Hajj in a Time of the H1N1 Pandemic by Sofiah Jamil & Julie Balen, NTS Alert Special Edition, Nov 2009

Here’s wishing all a Happy Eid al Adha! Kul a’am wa antum bekhair! 🙂


2 responses to “Thoughts on the Hajj”

  1. Salam,

    I read the article on greener hajj. I would like to see it in a different light. The gathering of such huge mass of people, from very different backgrounds and a wide spectrum of society, will undoubtedly produce waste that boggles the mind. I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the mountain of waste left behind by the prilgrims as they moved out of Mina after throwing the Jamarat.

    I believe the roots of the problem are as follow. And unless we address the root, we can never eradicate, what more lessen, the enviromental damage done everytime haj is performed now.

    1. Saudi government. They promote the usage of disposable plastics, from cups to plates to spoons. And these are given free. Of course plastic is cheap to produced. The Saudi is the oil well of the world. And plastic is the by-product of oil. Just look at the amount of plastic cup provided for pilgrims around the vicinity of al-Haramain for drinking Zamzam? The alternatives: Promote biodegradable plastic or promote metal cups that can be shared for Zamzam water (not so hygenic if you ask me, imagine you use the cup after a man eating ‘sireh’ 🙂 ). Re-usable utensils that need washing is out of question since water is precious.

    2. The manufacturers. I’m still perplexed by the audacity of producers and manufacturers of goods on the amount of materials and waste that went into packaging. A simple one suffice. But no. They want extragavant packaging that is pleasing to the eye but discarded immediately after the package is opened. The free water provided to the pilgrims for example. They come in various plastic containers in elaborate packaging. The pilgrims are just interested in quenching their thirst, not admiring the packaging which will be thrown away without batting an eyelid.

    3. Transportation. While efforts have been made to use public transportation, which supposedly leaves lesser carbon-footprint, but because oil is cheap, and more so diesel, bus drivers there tend to leave the engine running while waiting for pilgrims to finish their rites, just so that the driver can sleep inside with the cool air from the aircon. And this is replicated all over the world, even here in Singapore. I recently witnessed a truck driver sleeping with aircon and engine running while waiting for his turn to offload his goods. After more than 5 hours, he is still waiting with the engine on!

    4. People. Majority of muslims come from third world countries. They are not aware of the importance of going green, what more the ways to do it. Hence littering becomes a norm. But they almost always eat less and never leave their food unfinished. And the rich educated muslims from supossedly first world country, generate more carbon footprint with their luxurious hotel rooms, sumptious food and the tendency to throw away foods just because they have more than enough for their stomach.

    5. Hotels. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of carbon footprint and wastage in hotels. Apparently the number of stars a hotel earned equates to carbon footprints and wastage. The higher the number of stars, the greater will be the carbon footprint and wastage. Imagine you paying for $500 a night room. For sure you would want to have the aircon running as cold as possible, for as long as possible, the television on 24 hours, taking showers as frequent as possible, let the water run to fill the bathtub, change the bed sheet and towels everyday, taking as much food as possible during breakfast, and throwing away foods you can’t finish, using new plate everytime you want to pile another food…in fact all the actions which you will not do in the vicinity of your home (which you have to pay for it), you will do it in luxurious five-star hotel, just because you have paid for it.

    Our economy is skewered to the paper money, not to the environment.

    Our current economic-system is faulty to the max. It brings disaster to the financial world, promotes greed in people, and disregards the environment.


    1. Salam Ustaz Firdaus,

      Thanks for raising those great points!

      Although not having gone for the Hajj myself, several relatives who have made the trip have commented about the massive littering that occurs during the Haj… sometimes thrash thrown all around a dustbin but not into it. There was also some news reports about this same issue about two years ago that I read on KSA’s Arab News.

      It is quite ironic thinking about the amount of resources required in creating and maintaining the 5 star hotels in Makkah, and what more on the plains of Mina. A hajjah had once mentioned that in a certain camp of pilgrims from a particular developed country, they even had personal toilets equipped with shower heads. Thats quite a stark difference from the communal toilets in the surrounding camps!

      It seems that although the Haj is suppose to put everyone as equals, the ability to pay still serves to perpetuate the inequalities.


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