Disappointed at People’s Behavior in Holy City

21 August, 2016
Q I have returned from umrah two days ago. It was my first visit to the holy cities and my hopes were really high. But what I saw there has left me very disappointed. The first disappointment was to see the enormously huge crowd. There were people on every little space. Pushing, pulling, trampling was common. More than that, most of the people were treating the place like a picnic spot. They were busy chatting, taking selfies etc. I didn’t understand why and how could the holy Kaaba be treated with such lack of seriousness?I didn’t quite understand how (apart from hajj) could such innumerable visas be issued. Given the fact that worship loses its meaning if one can’t concentrate. I don't think I could pray with utmost focus even once. Also, I didn’t understand why have those huge sky scrapers been built around Kaabah? They over shadow the mosque.Is it just me who has felt that way? Or has the approach of an average Muslim towards these sacred places really fallen so low?

Answer

Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. We hope that we can utilize this space to learn and be reminded with essential teachings of our deen.

First, the sentiments you’ve shared have been reported by other people as well.

There are two components in this discussion. One component has to do with issues that aren’t directly in our own hands (such as the issuance of many visas), and the other has to do with matters we can control (such as your feelings and/or the inability to concentrate in prayers).

Let us deal with the component that is currently in our hands: the attitude towards other believers and the essence of our worship.

I’m reminded here with a few incidents from the life of our Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). I think the best solution to our query is to learn from the Messenger.

Let us remember what he did (peace and blessings upon him):

“Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A Bedouin urinated in the mosque and some people rushed to beat him up. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Leave him alone and pour a bucket of water over it. You have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult.” [Al-Bukhari].

Now, can you imagine this scenario? A person who, not only treated the holy mosque as a picnic spot, but even worse, urinated in it!

How did the Prophet (peace be upon him) react? With patience upon patience.

This is a message for us and a lesson.

There is also another beautiful incident.Disappointed at People’s Behavior in Holy City

Narrated Anas bin Malik: “While I was going along with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) who was wearing a Najrani Burd (sheet) with a thick border, a Bedouin overtook the Prophet (peace be upon him) and pulled his Rida’ (sheet) forcibly. I looked at the side of the shoulder of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and noticed that the edge of the Rida’ had left a mark on it because of the violence of his pull. The Bedouin said, “O Muhammad! Order for me some of Allah’s property which you have.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) turned towards him, (smiled) and ordered that he be given something.” [Sahih Al Bukhari. Good Manners (Al-Adab)]

Can you imagine someone speaking to you in such rudeness, or pulling you so violently unjustifiably that you end up being physically hurt?

Well, the Prophet experienced that, and what did the noble Messenger do?

He smiled and gave the man what he wanted.

This is our teacher, our Muhammad. This is our path.

We understand the feelings and disappointments that you had.

Yes, the situation might have been difficult for you, but we’re the followers of Muhammad. We are the followers of the mercy to mankind.

Our worship is not supposed to be perfected only when everything around us is perfect. Our worship becomes heavier when we struggle despite our circumstances.

Maybe your patience in the face of someone who angered you would be heavier on your scale than a prayer in a quiet air conditioned area.

Maybe you forgiving someone who irritated you would be the reason why Allah (swt) forgives you on the Day of Judgement.

{And let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.} (Quran 24:22).

Allah [swt] described those whom He loves saying that they are “humble toward the believers” (Quran 5: 54).

We can’t be angry or look down at our brothers and sisters. Muslims come from all over the world, all walks of life, all nationalities, colors, languages, customs, traditions and socio-economic classes. Having this crowd all in one place and united is a beautiful human experience…. Yes, it is beautiful, and yes it is still human. So, it’s flawed. It is a test. It’s not Jannah yet.

{Or do you think that you will enter Jannah while Allah has not yet made evident those of you who struggle in His cause and made evident those who are steadfast?} (Quran 3: 142)

This journey is a test of our sincerity, our struggle towards Allah (swt), our pursuit of His pleasure and humbleness towards Him against all odds.

It is a reflection of our journey in this life that is not easy either.

We’re here to struggle to purify ourselves… from anger, arrogance, pride and all heart diseases. This is our biggest test, and this is our internal worship that helps with our external physical one.

Now, the Prophet (peace be upon him) united his companions even though they had completely different personalities and backgrounds.

Their success was highlighted in their ability to discipline themselves, humble themselves and follow the Messenger’s example.

In our journey to the holy cities today, we also face some challenges. I do remember facing similar situations like the ones you described, but I also remember numerous incidents where Allah [swt] has clearly showed me His immensely beautiful signs, and that He was there Seeing and Listening, Teaching, Purifying and Accepting His slaves… all of them, the rich and the poor, the loud and the quiet, the black and the white. I felt His Helping Hand and His Soldiers who were taking care of His slaves in such heart-trembling ways. Those are the moments we seek…Disappointed at People’s Behavior in Holy City

It’s like a hijrah that we do to the House of Allah. Do you remember the first hijrah? The Muslims left their homes, their families, their money, their belongings, they were boycotted and prosecuted, and they suffered tremendously in order to declare that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and final Messenger.

I advise us to be reminded of the Prophet’s first hajj as well and the struggle that he and the companions went through. This is an interesting short talk on the subject.

Now, what are the struggles that we face?

We travel relaxed in airplanes, stay in comfortable hotels, pray in air conditioned areas, walk on marble, drink easily-accessible cold Zamzam water while giant fans spray water on us…

Let us say alhamdulillah that matters aren’t too harsh for our capacity. Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters, teach them with patience, remind them with wisdom and let us work on our own humbleness and self-purification along the way.

{…and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women. And Allah knows of your movement and your resting place.} (Quran 47:19)

May Allah forgive us and our brothers and sisters.

May Allah accept from you and our brothers and sisters, “indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” (Quran 11: 115).

May Allah bless us all with hearts that have the patience, forbearance and humility that were in the heart of our master Muhammad (peace be upon him).

I hope this helps address your concern.

Salam and please keep in touch.

About Dina Mohamed Basiony
Dina Mohamed Basiony is a writer based in Cairo, Egypt. She specializes in Islam and spirituality. Dina holds an MA and BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo.