In an age defined by the drawing and erasing of borders that are both literal and figurative, the Hajj remains untouched. Powerful constructs yield to the Hajj. Today’s age is a deformed body: vast collections of data, information and technology make a head, which rests on the carcass of a grossly stratified society, with long, lanky limbs of conflicting ideologies and sullied stereotypes.
The Hajj removes itself from this defiled avatar. It is a separate being. A sample of something else that may actually be out of this current world and body. A quest of raw appreciation of peace and Islam. A pilgrimage that embraces the breaking of boundaries and the formation of a bond that unites two million brothers and sisters.
Succinct synchronization. Physical connectedness with individual experience. A shared desire to transcend.
Walls crash down.
As the swirl builds, white cloth specks walk as though the people next to them are extensions of their own limbs, with bodies fusing into a moving, cohesive juggernaut. A speckled beast. A spotted gentle giant. A system of white cotton and rainbow specks orbiting around a single sun.
They melt into an experience that joins people of such different walks of life. The beast moves with a cohesion that is as natural as the eroding of rocks, the melting of candle wax, the pushes and pulls of gravity. Shifting around the Ka’ba are tiny swirling and twirling particles that move with cooperative force, each safely carrying in them devotions to a lifestyle that range from zero to a thousand.
Walls stay down.
In this coil of white cloth, we imagine a gentle plethora of colors, sounds and faces maybe previously unseen to the other. Preconceived notions of the world’s people go unobserved in the face of this odyssey. They all digest the same sounds, trapped in the physicality and spirituality of a larger-than-life transcendence. Identities are simplified, banding together under a single strong, yet age-old common denominator.
Ol’ reliable; the most troublesome rascal of human history; and yet, the glue of families and communities, the pillar of so many societies and identities: religion, religiousness, religiosity.
Walls lose utility.
A quest of breakage. A trek that breaches tricky and constructed boundaries. Those blinded by the thick, woolen folds of stereotypes and hatred lose all utility here. There is no food for prejudices.
There, we see people’s faith as private and public, as personal and shared, with no regard for the little histories of people’s ways to finding faith. The history of religious identities is irrelevant. The world’s current religious rifts are irrelevant. Movements, sights and sounds remain entirely in the present. Faith is whatever to whoever RIGHT NOW, in the present moment.
Strangers from different worlds unite under a new constitution. The white-speckled beast that builds and builds during the odyssey wrecks current confines and swallows new mindsets. The beast is connected– joined by the faith of trekkers and pilgrims. We should all hope that this gentle giant, born from the journeys of millions, can survive in environments other than this chaotic oasis. But it cannot. Outside of these walls, old borders loom, manufactured by monsters of both history and of today.
Walls become permanent.
We fear to connect because we fear the consequences of breaking walls. The contract under which we live punishes the detonating of boundaries. Stereotypes and prejudices corner us. Societal norms and the status quo trap us into the core of a gnarled trunk. In our shared world, we cannot connect for the sake of the gentle juggernaut. We have no food for the beast.