Due to the current situation regarding the COVID 19 pandemic, the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world have experienced unprecedented changes in their economical conditions, social behaviour, and political decisions. The suspension of Hajj has shocked the Muslim world, however, if one takes a look back at the past and consider major events that previously occurred in the Muslim world. This is due to different conflicts, plagues, and politics.
For instance, Ismail bin Yousef in defiance to the Abbasid Caliphate attacked passing pilgrims on the Holy Arafat Mountain overlooking Mecca in 865. Tragically, he raided and massacred the pilgrims which forced Hajj to be cancelled for several months.
The political disputes between the rulers of two caliphates, the Abbasids of Iraq and Syria and the Fatimids of Egypt, delayed Muslims from making the pilgrimage for eight years until they reached an agreement.
Later, a heterodox sect of Ismaili Shia based in Bahrain known as the Qarmatians launched an attack on Mecca in 930. This attack resulted in approximately 30,000 deaths and then dumped the corpses into the well of Zamzam. After this, the Qarmatians proceeded to loot the Grand Mosque, stole the Black Stone, and held it as ransom. Hajj was suspended for a decade until the Back Stone was returned to the Holy Kaaba.
In 1831, a similar pandemic wave of Cholera which started from India and hit Mecca killed three-quarters of the pilgrims. This forced the cancelation of pilgrimage. However, this wasn’t the last pandemic in those twenty years to force the cancellation of Hajj. From 1837-1840, another plague pandemic came over Mecca and it’s pilgrims. Then in 1846, Cholera had returned to the Holy City and took more than fifteen thousand lives. It didn’t stop there, in 1858, another global cholera pandemic arrived in the city, prompting Egyptian pilgrims to rush to Egypt’s Red Sea where they were held in quarantine.
By knowing these past events, this can somewhat bring Muslims feeling trapped in quarantine some level of understanding of what is happening today as this is nothing new and will most likely happen again. Muslims of the past travelled great distances and suffered great pains to fulfil their Hajj duties. The best thing we can learn and bring from this situation, like all uneasy and difficult situations, is patience. Allah says in the Holy Quran[2:153]: ‘O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.’ Allah is telling us to seek his help with patience and prayer and if you do this then surely Allah would be by your side during your time of struggle. May Allah allow us to return to His Holy City as pilgrims. Ameen.
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