Monday, November 22, 2010

A five star Hajj

The following is a guest post by JLD.

How fascinating to see the degree of opulence that this year has become possible during the pilgrimage of The Hajj, a momentous occasion for all Muslims who are fortunate enough to get there: to Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

It is to be the great leveller of occasions in the spiritual life of millions of devotees of Islam, evident in the same white attire that is worn by all pilgrims. And all are to participate in the rituals in similar fashion, while walking, praying, stoning the symbols of evil, and other aspects that have rich spiritual meaning.

What is interesting to the observer is the introduction of the glamorous accommodations provided by the enormous new Fairmont Hotel Makkah Clock Royal Tower, pictured above. Their least expensive room is currently a thousand dollars per night, while the most exclusive of suites is a mere $4,000 --- per night, yes. The pilgrims are, apparently, segregating themselves according to wealth. Some Africans, for example, many of whom can afford only the fare to get there, are often found asleep on the ground, their prayer mats providing perhaps some meagre protection and comfort, whereas those pilgrims of wealthy (Arab?) nations, perhaps, who partake of the luxury and accept the Fairmont's steep tarriffs --- are no doubt the primary consumers.

Hmmm... what does this suggest to the world about the commitment to a commonality among the pilgrims during this---for most---once-in-a-lifetime experience? How about supporting those pilgrims less fortunate by providing basic, comfortable, convenient living arrangements at no cost --- and truly share the wealth?

JGK: [Can anyone else see any symbolism in the Fairmont casting a pointed shadow over the Grand Mosque at certain times of the day? The word penetration comes to mind...]

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