Reflections

Politicizing the Hajj Pilgrimage

Sep 9, 2016 | 02:29 GMT
Politicizing the Hajj Pilgrimage
Some 1.5 million pilgrims will make their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where the Kaaba (pictured) is located.
(AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

The annual hajj pilgrimage will peak in Saudi Arabia beginning this weekend, between Sept. 9 and Sept. 14. Approximately 1.5 million pilgrims from 180 countries will convene in the western city of Mecca to visit centuries-old monuments such as the Kaba to conduct group and individual rituals in what is for most a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Mandatory for those who can afford it, the hajj is something for which many pilgrims have saved and waited years. Envisioned and practiced as the ultimate embodiment of unity of the global Muslim umma (community), the hajj at times can have a fracturing effect. And when the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exercises its territorial right to custody over the sacred sites to which pilgrims stream, the accusations of politicization are often rife from the kingdom's chief regional Shiite rival, Iran....

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