Hajj

How much of a game do we want to play with something so dangerous to humanity?
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One would assume that Mecca is a city of religious purity and traditionalism. However, a visit to the holy city a couple of years ago led me to the astonishing realization that the troops of globalization have reached not only the Saudi Kingdom, but the cradle of Islam as well.
Eid Mubarak!
Devout Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized Saudi Arabia over how it runs the hajj after a crush last year killed hundreds of pilgrims.
Hundreds of pilgrims died in a stampede last year when crowd control measures failed.
Just recently, Iran enforced a strict ban forbidding any of its citizens from participation in Hajj, the annually offered and once-in-a-lifetime required major Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
My brain frantically scours for the line between the patience we have grown and groomed over these days on Umrah and the right to defend one's dignity against defamation -- not to mention an additional stand against an entire gender's general reduction into one, incapable stereotype -- but my mind quickly realizes we are way past this point.
The black silk was cold and soft. The protruding layers of thread that spelt out "Allah" in neat Arabic curls absorbed the tears and prayers sprayed at the cloth's delicate font, while still reflecting the flood of light that shone from looming construction cranes and endless spurts of cell phone flashes.
The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing.