A Muslim pilgrim touches Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba, at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca. (AFP)

August 7, 2017

Attempts by Qatar and Iran to politicize the Haj pilgrimage came in for severe criticism from several quarters, media reports said on Saturday.

Tahir Aqeel, general secretary of the Pakistan Ulema Council told Al Arabiya that he condemns “Qatari and Iranian conspiracies to confuse the Muslim pilgrims and indulge in politics during the Haj pilgrimage”.

“We are more than 5,000 scholars who work under the Pakistan Ulema Council, led by Sheikh Taher Ashrafi. We denounce and condemn the politicization of Haj and condemn strongly what Qatar and Iran are doing in conspiring attempts to spread sedition, protest and disturb the pilgrims during the Haj season,” Aqeel said.

“The message of Haj is a message of unity, security and peace to the Muslim world, and we do not want the Haj to become a subject of dispute and disagreement,” the Pakistani scholar added.

Egyptian Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments), Mohamed Mokhtar Jumaa, rejected Qatar’s request to internationalize the holy sites.

Senior scholars from the Cairo-based Al-Azhar, the world’s leading institution on Sunni Islam, have also rejected these calls.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has already termed the Qatari demand to internationalize the holy sites as an aggressive act and a declaration of war against the Kingdom.

“We reserve the right to respond to any party working in the field of internationalization of the holy sites,” Al-Jubeir said in an interview with Al Arabiya and Al Hadath on the sidelines of the recent four-way meeting in Manama.

Pilgrims from around the world have started arriving in Saudi Arabia to prepare for the pilgrimage. But, no one from Qatar has come yet despite the Kingdom’s constant calls welcoming them.

A Saudi official said that Qatar is banning its citizens from performing Haj. Qatar has not announced the reason behind the closure yet.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Dr. Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid, imam and khateeb of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, has stressed that the pious ritual of Haj should not be used to further the vested political interests of any group or any nation. The Kingdom’s stand on the issue, he said, is very unequivocal: It strictly forbids turning the pilgrimage into political activities where ideologies, parties, sects, schools of thought and systems of government compete with each other to gain some brownie points on any given issue.

Delivering the Friday sermon to the thousands of pilgrims converging on the Grand Mosque from across the globe, Bin Humaid reiterated that engaging in such political activities, seriously compromises with the noble and high religious sanctity attached to the Haj pilgrimage.

Sheikh Bin Humaid said the Kingdom does not allow exploitation of religion by any one in the holy sites for it diverts the pilgrims’ attention from their main goal which is to spend all their time and effort in worshiping Almighty Allah and carrying out their Haj rites with devotion and sincerity of purpose.

Politicization of Haj rites, he said, will not bring any good to the Ummah which is already suffering from discord and differences.

Saudi Gazette

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.