Most of us have been privileged with going to the sacred lands. And we have all experienced the hardships there.
We have pocketed these experiences remembering the hadith, “Hajj is hardship.” Well, is the meaning of this hadith and the hardships we experience the same thing? No.
Is it a solution to say Hajj is hardship?
Think of the travelling done on horseback or on camels during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Hajj would have been full of toil in an era in which there was no possibility of carrying water, and sheltering and food was scarce. Travelling for months, security problems and the heat... it couldn't have been easy enduring all these. It is for this reason that, Hajj isn't obligatory (fardh) for everyone and suffering these hardships during Hajj return as good deeds.
Aren't today's circumstances different from then, or even different to that of 50 years ago? Things regarded as hardship have almost been fully removed. The technology we own, the infrastructure opportunities, the science and organization opportunities are enough to remove the problems we experienced in the past.
The organization and planning issue
Everyone has observed that the Hajj organization, city planning, transport planning, managing of human traffic, sheltering, food and hygiene has been unsuccessful. These problems were communicated to the Saudi Arabian authorities, yet much didn't change.
Muslims didn't really dispute over the hardships experienced during Hajj in order to gather the good deeds in the “Hajj is hardship” hadith. However, the overturning of the crane and the stampede in Mecca clearly show us that it is time to discuss these issues. The problems we experience in Hajj are not natural hardships, but are problems deriving from disorganization.
Can Hajj be organized jointly?
After the last calamity, the demand to jointly organize Hajj has been the point of discussion. Muslims care about Hajj. The Muslim world believes that this sacred place, God's home, deserves better. The Muslim world, particularly Turkey, have the experience and knowledge to successfully organize the Hajj event. Then why are we obliged to this poor organization? This place is our mutual home, land and heart.
Diverting these justified requests and arguments are wrong. Saudi Arabia sees this as their internal problem and as an area of their independence. A joint organization may remain as a dream after countries like Iran leap on every opportunity to wear out Saudi.
I am sure Saudi Arabia will see this proposal as a sovereignty violation and refuse to accept it. It is certain that if Iran and Iraq were offered the same thing over the Ahl- al-bayt memories they would show the same reaction.
It is a must to discuss these problems
Yet, there must be a way to use the knowledge, accumulation, experience and organization ability of the Muslim world. At least a conference to discuss this issue should be organized, as Mehmet Görmez the Religious Affairs Director suggested.
The world is relentingly and cynically watching the recent issues that occurred in Mecca, the pupil of our eye. Muslims do not deserve this, neither does Mecca. It isn't a Muslim's fate to lose their life during Hajj because of stampede, infections, accidents or cranes overturning.
It is for this reason that Saudi Arabia has to work jointly with the Muslim world, especially Turkey, and go to a mutual form of management. We understand Riyadh's diplomacy, right of independence and pride. Then, they should find a solution, a midway and offer a common sense to solve these problems.