Did You Go to Hajj?

With the completion of hajj and celebrations of Eid al-Adha that occurred from November 25-30,  I thought it would be a good time to do a follow up on the Inside Islam radio show that aired November 19th, during which Jean talked with Michael Wolfe and Qanta Ahmed about hajj and their personal experiences as pilgrims. The show highlighted the history of  hajj and its links to the Abrahamic lineage as well as the modern logistical difficulties of 2 million plus pilgrims performing the same rituals in 5 days.

This year’s pilgrimage passed without significant casualties. Despite fears around swine flu, it was reported that only 4 pilgrims died as a result of swine flu. There was heavy rain this year that hampered the beginning of the pilgrimage. However, while a reported 100 died from the flooding, none were pilgrims.

What Wolfe and Ahmed both emphasized is that despite the difficulties and the casualties,  hajj does not stop and that alone makes this annual pilgrimage significant and unique.

Were you at the pilgrimage this year? What was the experience like? Have you been to hajj before? We want to hear from you. Help us continue the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Islamic Civilization in Crisis?

"Light" in Arabic

"Light" in Arabic

I have often thought about the reasons for what seems to be unending turmoil in some Muslim communities. I can’t say that I have reached a clear answer–I doubt anyone has–but I do know that this is a question that occupies many, especially Muslims. Several possibilities are offered as explanations: the effects of colonization, the secularization of societies, conflict between tradition and modernity, and so on. However, Ali Allawi suggests in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that these factors only affect the outer world and that the real crisis lies in Islam’s inner world. Allawi’s article got my attention because he doesn’t discuss what he calls the outer world to the exclusion of the inner world; rather, he finds a way to show how both are intertwined. The fact that he is able to bring the two together is for me especially insightful because most discussions on this topic focus on one or the other, but never show the interplay between the two. Continue reading