Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Is this report accurate?
US urges quick end to Hajj so it can prosecute war Mohamed Gamal Arafa for IslamOnline 8 February 2003 The Saudi authorities have decided to cut short the rituals of this year’s Hajj (pilgrimage) in response to a US request to clear the peninsula of pilgrims so it can pursue a war with Iraq as soon as possible after the annual gathering. The policy has been adopted as a "necessary" measure taken in accordance with a fatwa (religious edict) to that effect, a leading Egyptian paper reported on Saturday, February 8. The semi-official widely-circulating daily Al-Ahram quoted the head of Egyptian delegation of pilgrims as saying that "the Saudi officials grounded their shortcut in a fatwa to the effect that pilgrims might not stay overnight in the Mina area and move directly for Arafat plain." In the first day of the Hajj, pilgrims travel a few miles to the plain of Mina and encamp there. From Mina, pilgrims then move the following morning to the plain of Arafat where they spend the entire day in earnest supplication and devotion. That evening, the pilgrims move and encamp at Muzdalifa, which is a site between Mina and Arafat. Muslims stay overnight there offering more prayers. According to the latest modification, the pilgrims would leave directly for Arafat, without earlier encamping in Mina. The reported announcement raised questions whether there is an American request for an evacuation of the pilgrims amid great prospects for launching a military offensive against Iraq after Eid Al-Adha (Day of Sacrifice), an Islamic celebration marking the end of Hajj.
Imagine if a country was to ask Israel to change the date of Yom Kippur or another country were to ask us to move the date of Christmas. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a central tenent of the religion. And here the United States is asking the Islamic nations to "cut it short" because it would be inconvenient for OUR war schedule? What colossal arrogance! I would hope this report isn't true.

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