Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hajj Podge

Today's post is inspired by two things:  1) The fact that I have a brain full of mush that needs to escape and 2) The annual Hajj.  If you remember from your comparative religion course, Comparative Religion 101, you'll recall that the Hajj is the annual event in the which persons of the Muslim faith make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  This Hajj event is one that takes place over the course of several days and the days are not the same each year.  For 2010, the Hajj is expected to fall between November 14th and 18th.  All Muslims who are able to afford the expense are encouraged to attend this pilgrimage at least once in their life time.  They say 13 million people attend the Hajj each year.

The ritual of the annual Hajj is often associated with the Islamic prophet Muhammed, but evidently folks have been making the trek since way before Muhammed -- like thousands of years before Muhammed, when a gent named Abraham was alive and kicking.  The Muslims refer to this Abraham as Ibrahim.

Here's how the Hajj works, you and your closest friends and relatives gather together in Mecca.  Once there, you all proceed in performing the rituals associated with the pilgrimage.  These rituals include:

  • Walking seven times, counter-clockwise, around the Ka'bah or Kaaba.  The Kaaba, the most sacred of sites in Islam, is a cube-esque, granite, black building that was built by Abraham.   There's a mosque built around this Kaaba.  Walking around it seven times clock-wise acts as the Muslim direction of prayer.
  • Kissing the Black Stone in the corner of the Kaaba.  This black stone is located inside the Kaaba at the east cornerstone and is considered a Muslim relic that dates back to Adam and Eve.
  • Running back and forth between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah.  This one is so very interesting to me, mostly because it involves running.  Islamic tradition dictates that God commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) to leave his wife Hagar and their son Ismael alone in the desert as a means to test their faith.  The desert between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah is the site for this test of faith.  Being as Al-Safa and Al-Marwah were both located on the top of hills, Hagar left the infant son and would go from one hill to the other looking down in the valley for provisions.  After she found nothing, she returned to the child to find that  a spring had spontaneously erupted at the base of the child's feet.  This spring is now known as the Zamzam Well.
  • Drinking from the Zamzam Well.  See explanation above.
  • Visiting the plains of Mount Arafat.  The Mount Arafat is a granite hill located east of Mecca.  The Muslims believe that Muhammed presented the Farewell Sermon to the Muslims at the end of his life.  Muslim Pilgrims making the trek will spend the afternoon here on the ninth day.  The day is important.  If they aren't present at Mount Arafat on the afternoon of the ninth day, the Hajj pilgrimage is null and void.
  • Throwing stones in a ritual called The Stoning of the Devil.  Pilgrims making the pilgrimage are required to gather stones the night before the stoning at a place called Muzdalifah.  On the day of stoning, Muslims "pelt" walls called jamarat that represent the Devil.  This ritual is performed on the 10th day.
  • Shaving their heads.
  • Sacrificing an animal.
  • Celebrating four days of a festival called Eid al-Adha.  The Eid al-Adha is a world-wide festival that commemorates Abraham's obedience.   As the story goes, Abraham was instructed by God to sacrifice his son.  Abraham responded as God had requested.  God, seeing Abraham's obedience, allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead of his son.  The Eid al-Adha is a time that Muslims gather together as family and friends to show gratitude for things like shelter and food.

Why the sudden interest in the Hajj?  It's simple really.  Spouse has this friendly coworker in India.  His name is Abdul.  Abdul looks like an Indian Jemaine Clement.  Abdul is Abdul's real name.  I can say Abdul's real name because India has over a million Abduls.  Telling you about Abdul, using his real name, has no safety significance, because I dare you to find him.  I've also done some research on my analytics.  I get roughly three periodic hits each month from India.  It's prolly Abdul and two others.

Anyway, I've met Abdul and he happens to be my favorite.  (Sorry Utkarsh, Chetin, Yashi and Ranjan!) He's always smiling and is prolly the friendliest chap on the planet.  Whenever Spouse is talking on the tele with Abdul, Abdul always, and thoughtfully, inquires about the medical state of my mom (she's getting a little better every day, by the way -- currently in rehab and we expect a discharge is two-three weeks.)  

Right now, as we speak, Abdul is making plans for the Hajj pilgrimage this year with his family and new bride.  Doesn't that sound fun?  I want to go.  I would seriously go.  I keep thinking I should ask Abdul if I can be the family photographer.  I'd go and take pictures until my fingers turn calloused and purple.

Do you think Mormons can go?  I'm looking for a Mormons to Mecca trip on Expedia.



Ski Bike Junkie said...

Certain mormons have embraced all things Jewish*, why not all things Islamic as well?

*The BEST thing about mormonism is that someone who's Jewish may be considered a gentile.

rabidrunner said...

Hah! I have a GREAT gentile story. Sadly, I cannot tell this story here. Remind me about it the next time I see you. Or the first time I see you. Whatever.

Oh and if Mormans start embracing all things Islamic, then I won't be special anymore. I need to be special. Somehow my mama telling me I'm special doesn't cut it anymore.

rabidrunner said...

Did I really type MorMANS? Holy crap I need a nap.

tom lindsey said...


Remember Hadji? He was cool.

C.C. said...

Isn't the Mormons to Mecca to Missouri? I'm probably off....that is what happens when one utilizes institute for the parking pass and only for the parking pass.

Sparks said...

No, no. Mormon Mecca is Provo, Ut. All Mormons make their pilgrimage there sooner or later. Mission--MTC. Marriage. BYU. A visit just to see! the miraculous place.

Jessica said...

I thought the Mormon Mecca was SLC? Ya know, the temple, the tabernacle, the square.

But, Provo does have The BYU. I suppose that's more important.

Also, is Hojj Podge similar to Modge Podge?

p.s. I've always wanted to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. It just seems so amazing. (and yes, I used that appropriately)

The petulant ninny said...

Well, Hadji could charm snakes, but Bandit got into more trouble

Moe said...

The book I told you about:

We have it around here somewhere.