Hundreds of thousands of white clad pilgrims are today in Arafat. It is a moving sight. The day will be spent in prayers - beseeching the Almighty and asking for forgiveness. Many pilgrims, I am sure, will pray for peace and a return to normalcy of a world besieged by man-made disasters.
It is a sublime moment. Oblivious to all that is going around them and in utmost tranquillity the pilgrims - black and white, rich and poor, women and men, young and old - will extend their arms to the Almighty , the God of all and pray.
And it is this genuine call for deliverance that is one of the most striking features of the Haj or the pilgrimage.
For those lucky enough to perform one of the tenets of Islam the joy is immense. The Haj by itself is not merely a set of rituals. Each act leads to a logical conclusion.
But as the pilgrims make their way through the plains of Arafat and climb Jabel Al-Rahma, the Mount of Mercy in the sacred spot and in complete security, many around the globe will spend the day in fear, shock, horror and waiting for the grief that was to come.
In occupied Palestine, many men, women and children will look out from their prison windows. Condemned to captivity under the flimsiest of excuses these people too will implore the Almighty for succor. Many will have no property as Jerusalem is slowly being grabbed.
The occupied Arab lands will hear the thuds of the Zionist jack boots as hordes of Israeli soldiers fan across intimidating peaceful Palestinians and depriving them of the pleasures of this great day.
In Bosnia the Serbs will take reprisals against civilians by summarily executing people and beating them.
Bosnians were beaten, raped, robbed and murdered. The ethnic cleansing did not stop and the "bloody launders" did not take respite. This day will not be different.
No amount of excuses or justification for the silence and inaction of the West will move me away from the premise that it has nothing to do with religion. At least we can write in our own papers and say that. This eerie silence is because the oppressed are from a different faith. Unfortunately this is the case. What is going on in the city of Sarajavo, close to Vienna and Rome is a crime. But it is a crime condoned by the West - aided and abetted by some of them and yet these hypocrites talk of terrorism!! To them State sponsored terrorism is justified. In America "cult terrorism" took a heavy toll in lives. The Oklahoma bombing brought the fact to the Americans that terrorism also exists in their heartland.
Quick on the draw the American media made scapegoats of the poor ordinary "Middle Eastern" looking for many of them the perpetrators of this ugly crime were apprehended. Any delay in their capture would have caused mere heartbreaks and anguish to American Muslims - black or white. We all mourn the deaths in Oklahoma and grieve with the families of the deceased.
In Africa the blood bath of the innocent is a source of concern and agony. The faces of the children as they sit next to heaps of bodies are transmitted daily. The physical and mental havoc wrought upon these unfortunate souls is an indication of man's inhumanity to man. And many in Arafat pray for a saner and calmer world where love, brotherhood and humanity among all people will prevail. And in the subcontinent the clatter of machine guns did not stop.
In Karachi where people were once joyous and moved about freely there will be only scurried movements. Life is becoming cheaper than a "paan" betel nuts as snipers take delight in gunning down women and children.
The Kashmiris have nothing to celebrate. Occupation, subjugation and death seems to be their lot. Innocent people are being killed and maimed. Their only crime is that they are clamoring for their God given right of self-determination. Indian Human Rights sources have confirmed excesses by the dreaded Border Security Force (BSF).
The promoter of paranoia and hatred, Bal Thackeray is spewing venom against many. Frightened, huddled people will pass this day suffering acute attacks of anxiety. The tide of hatred against Muslims increases with each word from his mouth. Using his own made laws he and his band of sick individuals are tightening the noose around the necks of the poor and bewildered Muslims. His party members have turned into police auxiliaries.
I am sure many in Arafat will be praying for an India free from communal troubles. They will also pray for reason and logic to prevail.
And what about the poor, the hungry and the ill? What about the orphans, the oppressed, those who have no voice nor any one to turn to. What about those who are in jails for voicing their beliefs and speaking out their conscience? They should not be forgotten. And many of the pilgrims, I am sure, will pray for them. They are not to be forgotten.
The world in the last thirty years has progressed and advanced technologically much more than it did in the past 200 years. From satellite technology to communication miracles, to the Internet and a dependence on each other, civilization has reached a zenith in terms of comfort.
However, at the same time bloodshed and violence has also increased. As some may say it has always been there. It could be true. But in today's world where the media transmits images of death and destruction right into our own bedrooms this type of behavior by man is totally unacceptable.
What particular forces of evil push humans to commit such deprived acts - we don't know.
Nor will those who are in Arafat today.
All they will do is ask to bless this world. To soften the hard hearts of cruel men. To infuse humanity into it and let reason and comparison rule. What they will ask for is not a material world but a changed one where hopefully morality will hold sway. And like those in Arafat we too will pray for that.
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