Leader: Safety of Hajj pilgrims rests with those controlling the Holy Land
Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, granted an audience on August 1 to officials-in-charge of this year’s Hajj, noting that the annual pilgrimage to God Almighty’s Symbolic House, the Holy Ka’ba in Mecca, is a unique spiritual and social gathering and the best opportunity for the display of solidarity of the Muslim Ummah.
At the same time, he stressed: “We have not forgotten the tragedy that struck Hajj pilgrims in Mena two years ago when thousands died in a stampede, including several hundred Iranians.” He added: “The serious and permanent demand of the Islamic Republic is the safeguarding of the security, dignity, comfort and wellbeing of all the pilgrims, particularly the Iranians and [ensuring] the security of Hajj, which is the responsibility of those who are in control of the two Holy Cities (of Mecca and Medina).”
After thanking God Almighty for His infinite mercy and sending blessings on the Prophet of Islam and his Infallible Household the Ahl al-Bayt (peace upon them), the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said: “The fact that this year (after being unjustly denied visit to the Land of Revelation last year), the blessing to perform the Hajj has been provided for our people is indeed good news. Thankfully, senior officials of Iran, from the three branches of government and those involved in such affairs, examined the different aspects of the issue and decided that this year the Hajj rituals should be fulfilled by (Iranian pilgrims).”
He said: “Hajj is a very important obligation. Perhaps, there is no other obligation like the Hajj among the important Islamic obligations. First of all, there are numerous spiritual blessings in this great and elaborate obligation. Those who pursue a spiritual relationship with God Almighty can find numerous benefits and amazing potentialities in this great obligation. Spirituality radiates from the daily ritual prayers during the Hajj, from tawaf (i.e. circumambulation of the holy Ka’ba), from sayi (i.e. the brisk walk seven times between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa), from the ehram (i.e. the special white two-piece shroud-like garb that the pilgrims wear), and from each and every aspect this great obligation.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said: Islam places great emphasis on spirituality, but Islamic spirituality does not mean isolation, monasticism, seclusion and separation from people and society. The Hajj obligation includes both spiritual and social aspects.
He said: “Hajj is the manifestation of the glorious presence of the Islamic Ummah; of its unity, of its unanimity and of its power. Every year, this greatest gathering of the Ummah takes place (in the Land of Revelation). During Hajj, Muslims get familiar with each other and establish a close relationship. And they understand each other's language. By "language", I do not mean words, rather I mean the culture that dominates everyone's mind. This way, doubts and falsehoods are removed, enmities are eliminated and gradually disappear, hearts get closer to each other and hands come to one another's help. Countries can help one another.”
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution said: “This is Hajj. Now, to what extent those who are in charge of Hajj help or allow the Hajj to be organized in this way, this is a different issue, but Hajj is an excellent opportunity for strengthening of spirituality, a place for social presence, and a place for expressing one's beliefs and the positions of the Islamic Ummah. This is the secret behind the issue of expressing disavowal of the enemies, on which we have placed a great emphasis. Even our Esteemed Imam (Khomeini – God bless him) had stated that he does not believe in (performance of) Hajj without this (Qur’anic commandment of disavowal of disbelievers). During the Hajj, the Islamic Ummah can express its correct, unanimous and acknowledged positions. Unanimous and acknowledged by whom? By nations and by peoples! Governments might think and act otherwise. As we see, many Muslim governments are unfortunately taking a path which is different from the wishes of their peoples, but the hearts of peoples are different from that of the governments. The Hajj is a place where the various peoples can express their positions on different matters.”
Ayatollah Khamenei referring to ongoing atrocities in the Zionist usurped land of Palestine where Muslims are being prevented from worshipping at the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque in holy city of Bayt al-Moqaddas, said: “Currently, the issue of Masjid al-Aqsa and the whole issue of Quds are important. These are not minor issues. The Zionists have become bold and audacious enough to make things hard for the owners of Masjid al-Aqsa – the Muslims. One day they shut the door, another day they create obstacles, another day they let some people enter and prevent others from entering, and yet on another day they impose age discrimination and they do other such tasks. This is audacity, insolence and brazenness on the part of the usurping and fake Zionist regime. The issue of Palestine has always been of primary importance, because of the malevolence and viciousness of the Zionists and because of treachery on the part of heads of some Muslim states. In any case, today, the main pivot of the world of Islam is the issue of Palestine. It is clear that the heart of the Islamic Ummah beats for Masjid al-Aqsa.
“Thus, the Hajj is the place for expressing one's position. Which place can the Islamic Ummah find better than the Sacred House of God, Arafaat, Mash'ar and Mena, and (the cities of) Mecca and Medina for expressing what Muslims have to say, what they want and what they think about Palestine and about Masjid al-Aqsa? Which place is better than Hajj?”
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution then pointed to the avowed enmity of the US towards Islam and its meddling in the Muslim World, and emphasized the need, during the annual Hajj, to express denunciation of the state terrorism of Washington. He said: “Where should we express our positions about the interferences of the US, its malicious presence in Muslim countries and in our region, and its effort to establish these takfiri, terrorist and other such groups? Of course, the most vicious terrorist apparatus is the United States of America itself. The US itself is the most vicious terrorist. Hajj is the best place for the Islamic Ummah – all people and all countries – to express its positions and its beliefs.”
Another issue during Hajj, said Ayatollah Khamenei, is the need for security. He cited ayah 125 of Surah Baqarah of the Holy Qur’an, where God Almighty says: “And [remember] when We made the House (of God) a place of confluence for mankind and a sanctuary.”
He said that in view of this divine commandment, security is very important, especially the safety of Hajj pilgrims in the Holy Land. He then recalled the mass mismanagement at Mena two years ago by the Saudi officials that resulted in a catastrophic stampede and the death of thousands of pilgrims including several hundred Guests of God from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Ayatollah Khamenei said: “We will not forget the bitter incidents that took place in the year 2015. That incident created great sorrow in the heart of the Islamic Ummah and in the hearts of us Iranians. That incident is not forgettable! That wound cannot be healed. Of course, that year Hajj officials made many efforts and worked very hard, but the incident was a catastrophic and grave incident anyway. The safety of Hajj pilgrims falls on the shoulders of the country which is in charge of the Two Holy Mosques and which has power and control over it. It is that government that should preserve security.
“This is our and unflinching demand: the safety of Hajj pilgrims – all Hajj pilgrims – should be preserved. Of course, our emphasis is on the Iranian Hajj pilgrims. Other governments should demand the safety of their own Hajj pilgrims and they should confront this in a serious manner. And the issue is not just about security and safety. Their dignity, welfare and comfort should be preserved as well.”
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution took note of the points of concern raised by Iranian Hajj officials for this year’s pilgrimage, and said: “The gentlemen in the meeting raised certain points which are completely correct. Well, you should be vigilant. You should be prepared for every incident that might occur. You should be prepared for every circumstance that might arise. The issue of Hajj pilgrims' comfort and tranquility is very important. Of course, by security and safety, I do not mean that they should create an environment of strict security measures and exert security pressures in a way that Hajj pilgrims will experience a difficult time. This is not what I mean. They should be safe and they should have peace of mind. The catastrophic incidents of Masjid al-Haram and Mena should not be repeated and the memory of those incidents should not be rekindled… I hope that by Allah's Grace, this year’s Hajj ceremony will be performed in the best way possible.”
Ayatollah Khamenei then turned his attention to the important issue of unity of the Islamic Ummah, saying: “Today, they are spending money – amounting to billions of dollars – in order to create discord and enmity among Muslim denominations. No one should be involved in this discord. Anyone who helps, has participated in their plots and in the otherworldly consequences of this great sin. No one should help this happen.”
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution said: “Hajj pilgrims have certain responsibilities which should be carried out. The honourable Hajj pilgrims should attach significance to public prayers. They should attach significance to the on-time performance of the daily ritual prayers. They should participate in the congregational prayers in the Masjid al-Haraam (in Mecca) and in the Prophet’s Mosque (in Medina). Great significance should be attached to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an – especially during the days that Hajj pilgrims are present in the Two Holy Mosques. Likewise, proper attention should be paid to the rituals of the Day of Arafa and other obligations.”
He then cautioned against roaming the markets, saying: “I have repeated this over and over again. Markets exist everywhere in the world, in Tehran and in all other places, with all sorts of legal and illegal products. What does not exist in Tehran is the Holy Ka’ba! What does not exist in Tehran and in your living environment is Masjid al-Haraam and the Masjid an-Nabi! These are the exclusive places that only exist there (in the Land of Revelation). Hajj pilgrims should only think of purifying themselves and their hearts and souls so that they can achieve great spiritual results, God Willing. If this happens, then social results will be achieved by Allah's Grace as well.
“I beseech God to bestow His blessings and kindness on all our dear Hajj pilgrims. I beseech Him to grant worldly and otherworldly protection to them. I also beseech Allah the Exalted to bestow His blessings on the officials in charge of Hajj affairs. Everyone should be vigilant and careful. Everyone should carry out his duties so that a great and dignified Hajj pilgrimage – in the true sense of the word – will be held this hear, God willing.”
Prior to the speech of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, his representative for Hajj and head of the Iranian Hajj Caravan, Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, recalled the tragic martyrdom of several hundred Iranian Hajj pilgrims in Mena in 2015, and said: “Although the final report on those incidents has not been released yet and blood money and compensation has not been paid to the relatives of the martyrs, we will follow up on the issue until reaching the final result.”
Saying the Islamic Republic has never sought to abort Hajj, Qazi-Askar added, “After several rounds of negotiations this year and the acceptance of the conditions of the Islamic Republic by Saudi Arabia, the ground was paved for performance of a dignified Hajj and had they accepted our terms. Last year too, we could have participated in the Hajj – if our conditions had been met.”
Hamid Mohammadi, the president of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, presented a report on the activities of the organization, saying, “Following the invitation letter of the Saudi Hajj Ministry and the decision by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council as well as approval by the Maraje’ or Grand Ayatollahs who are Sources of Emulation, Hajj negotiations were held with emphasis on the rightful demands regarding the security, honour and dignity of Hajj pilgrims and the rights of the Mena martyrs. After feeling satisfied that the desired demands and expectations would be met, the Supreme National Security Council agreed to the sending of Hajj pilgrims.”
He concluded: “Through examination of the flaws of the previous Hajj, all efforts were made to bring about the necessary requirements for performance of a proper Hajj. In this regard the level of services and provisions enjoy higher standards compared to the previous years and those of other countries.”