For the past several years Haj pilgrimage which is one of the five pillars of Islam is marred by one tragedy or the other. The just concluded season is no exception either. A number of these tragedies have resulted in the death of hundreds of pilgrims each time. The tragedies occur at Mina either at the residential tents of the pilgrims or at the Jamarat area where the symbolic stoning of the devil is performed. Thus eruption of major fires at the tent or the stampedes at the Jamarat have become the bane of the pilgrims lives at Mina. The obvious reason being a great many number of pilgrims were obliged to perform Haj rites at fixed venues and under rigid time frame.
The number of pilgrims has continued to surge each year from one lakh and odd during the last Haj of the holy Prophet (Pbuh) to more than twenty lakhs presently. The Haj congregation has come to be regarded as the largest international religious gathering annually on earth. The local administration needs to be commended for providing improved infrastructure to the pilgrims year after year. However, good infrastructure alone cannot ensure peaceful passage of Haj seasons. The administration ought to be more accurate and tough in its regulation and Co-ordination of different rites and rituals of the pilgrimage. It is also obligatory on the learned Ulama or the Muslim clergy to guide the ignorant masses in their understanding of the true spirit of the Haj, its basic components and the lenient aspects embedded therein as in any given Islamic code and law.
Flexibility and leniency form the core of the Islamic jurisprudence. Right from day one in the Muslim history, the holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself ordained laws unto the masses which they can translate into their lives easily and amicably. “Religion is lenient” was the motto of Islam. The Rightful Caliphs and later the four Imams of jurisprudence followed him in letter and spirit. Take the flexibility of Islamic law concerning the other pillars of Islam. One who does not afford fasting during the month of Ramadhan, can recompense them at a later date. One who cannot say his prayers standing can offer them sitting or lying. Daily prayers could be cut short and Ramadhan fasting could be postponed during journey. Ablution can be performed even without water when it is scarce. All the more, in the wake of the heavy rush during the year he performed the Haj, the holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself had permitted women and other weaker sections of the society to performing the stoning of the Jamarat at night so that they can evade labour and pain. Then why not revive this permission today so that the pilgrims perform this single and most laborious and painful component of Haj easily? It is the performance of this rite which is taking hundreds of lives year after year. It has to be borne in mind that in Islamic jurisprudence leave alone the fear of death and destruction, even a mere pain of great magnitude in the performance of any religious rites attracts lesser and lenient provisions concerning its performance. If the fundamental Islamic provisions of “Labour attracts leniency” and “Necessities legalize taboos” are not implemented during the time of such immense need as the present one, then when are they meant to be implemented? To sum up, in spite of the divinely ordained flexibility in the performance of different rites and rituals of the Haj at times of immense labour, if we still stick to artificial rigidity, we are neither doing any service to Almighty nor the Ummah.