Since I was a child, I have been hearing a lot about the Islam’s religious pilgrimage Mecca and Medina. I was told these places were of great prominence to those who follow the Islamic religion. I was made to believe that these were the purest places on earth and no sort of crime can be committed here.
The Hajj makes Muslims feel the real importance of life here on earth and the afterlife by stripping away all markers of social status, wealth, and pride. In the Hajj all are considered to be truly equal. After all these good compliments about Hajj, now read this on to know what really happens at Hajj.
Women are sexually harassed during Hajj!
Yes, women are not safe even in the purest place on earth…
A number of women have spoken out against sexual harassment during their Hajj tour, after a Facebook post made by a victim. On Friday, 2nd of February, Pakistani national Sabica Khan shared her terrifying ordeal at the holy pilgrimage.
“I was afraid to share this because it might hurt your religious sentiments,” Sabica began.
Women are sexually harassed during Hajjhttps://t.co/tNUWc4nwLh
— Tapan Ghosh (@hstapanghosh) February 6, 2018
She went on describing how she felt the first instance of inappropriate touching, during her third tawaf, she dismissed it as accidental. However, as the inappropriate touching continued, her suspicions grew and she soon realized she was being sexually harassed.
“Then… I felt it again. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I kept moving. During my 6th tawaf I suddenly felt something aggressively “poking my butt”. I froze, unsure of whether it was intentional. I ignored it and just kept moving slowly because the crowd was huge. I even tried to turn around but woefully couldn’t. When I reached the Yemeni corner, someone tried to grab and pinch my butt. I decided to stop there, grabbed his hand and threw it off me,” Sabica wrote in the Facebook post.
She added that the horrific experience overshadowed her entire experience at Mecca, with the feeling of powerlessness at not even being able to turn around and identify her harassers due to the dense crowds having left her petrified. Her words seem that she was helpless and could not catch hold of the person, as the crowd was huge in number.
“I believe it’s totally okay and important to be open about harassment. I don’t know how many of you had similar experiences, there but this incident has unfortunately left me feeling upset,” Sabica concluded.
A number of people have subsequently commented on her post, with many women sharing their own experiences of sexual harassment at the holy pilgrimage. “One commenter even said she had been facing sexual harassment at Hajj for over 28 years and suggested Sabica should have been mentally prepared to face it.”
According to an anonymous woman, sexual harassment at Hajj is most common in the queue leading to the Black Stone, at the eastern corner of the Kaaba.
— sangeeta singh (@sangeetasingh77) February 6, 2018
While we are talking about Hajj, at this moment, 2 million people from dozens of countries around the world are in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform the hajj at the Islamic religious pilgrimage. That’s way bigger than the Olympics (10,500 athletes and 500,000 foreign tourists went to Rio for the 2016 Olympics), Burning Man (the annual gathering in the Nevada desert currently has an attendance cap of 70,000) and the average Taylor Swift concert combined.
It’s indeed a huge event – in terms of both its significance in Islam and the massive logistical challenge of having that many people from all walks of life and every corner of the globe descend on one relatively small place all at once.
To carry out the pilgrimage rituals one needs to be in a state of Ihram, which is a special state of ritual purity. This is by making a statement of intention, wearing special white clothes (which are also called ihram) and obeying the regulations below. The person on the Hajj may not:
• Engage in marital relations
• Shave or cut their nails
• Use cologne or scented oils
• Kill or hunt anything
• Fight or argue.
• Women must not cover their faces, even if they would do so in their home country.
• Men may not wear clothes with stitching.
• Bathing is allowed but scented soaps are frowned upon.
One is supposed to follow all these rules above in order to become the purest soul on earth and then attend the Hajj. Does purifying oneself give you the rights to harass women? Does purifying oneself allow you to touch the soul of women? Does this mean you take advantage of the crowd and misbehave with women? Does your god allow this to happen? Who is responsible for these incidents?