Hajj through the eyes of a Russian Secret Agent

The Hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah is an important pillar of Islam whose origin goes back to the time of Prophet Abraham, in which Muslims from all over the world belonging to different races and languages pray and perform the tasks.  From last 14 centuries, an immeasurable number of Muslim men and women have completed the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a holy duty for all mature Muslims that they have to perform Hajj, at least one time in their life. Muslims who are healthy and monetary, able of taking the responsibility of this journey, and can bear their relations during their absence.[irp]

During the era of our ancestors, it was challenging for the pilgrims to perform Hajj. The great hard work and efforts made by the Saudi Government since the time of King Abdul Aziz are commendable. They have now made every step and Hajj ritual much easier than before due to different renovations and alterations. They worry incredibly to guarantee the return of pilgrims securely to their respective countries, which is an objective of the Saudi legislature.

“Hajj — 100 years ago”, was a book written by a Russian writer named, Efim Rezvan, in which he gathered authentic reports and true stories which were composed by a Muslim Russian officer named, Abdul Aziz Davletshin. He was sent intentionally by the Russian government to Hejaz to perform Hajj, and gather firsthand knowledge about the rituals and the Kingdom’s setup. The majority of the facts and the report was his perception of the Muslim world

The Russian officer performed his pilgrimage in 1898-1899. The book gave profitable facts and figures on military outposts, security leaders and features of local life, teaching, well-being, and mosques at the time. It incorporates Davletshin’s comprehensive perception on Makkah and the blessed sites, Taif, Yanbu, and Madinah.

The 352-page book is an amazing expressive novel of history, geography, politics, and social organization. It was distributed in Beirut in 1994 and is accessible in Arabic.  He revealed that how the pilgrimage made it easier for infections like typhoid and cholera to spread. He said that Cholera infection spreads in great quantity during the pilgrimage time, killing a large portion of the pilgrims, stretching out to the bordering countries and to different Arabian regions.

The officer also told about the sufferings of the pilgrims who were looted by the desert “nomads and by some tribes’ carrying weapons when one passes through their territories. The movement of the pilgrims was made difficult by the coarse sand and rocks covering narrow roads and crossings.[irp]

The route linking Makkah and Jeddah and Makkah and Madinah was covered with crude sand which is usually found close to the mountains, where the stones are discovered all around.  The book provides a view of the sight at how it used to be in old times and gives a great point to compare with the facilities today when pilgrims have all the easiness and lavish lifestyle in the 21st century.

Source: Arab News

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