Recommendations of the Muslim Institute Hajj Seminar (1982). Published in Crescent International (16-31 August, 1982) and reprinted in Issues in the Islamic movement, vol. 3, 1982-83 (1402-03), pp. 36-39.
The Haramain: a common heritage of the Ummah
A ringing declaration that the Haramain – Makkah and Medina – are a common heritage of the entire Ummah, and that control over them should pass to ‘institutions representing all Muslims, was made at the International Hajj Seminar in London.
The seminar, organized by the Muslim Institute, was attended by 150 scholars, writers, journalists and workers in the Islamic movement. Many had come from distant parts or the world.
A particular feature of the seminar was that it was attended by leading figures representing all the major schools of thought in Islam. This gave the deliberations a global flavour usually missing from such occasions. The Muslim Institute had also taken care to involve the Muslim community resident in Britain.
As part of the seminar programme, there was an exhibition of 250 photographs, sketches and drawings. Some of these were assembled from rare books and manuscripts. A part of exhibition included a programme of slide shows and films on the Haji and the Haramain. In four days (August 4-7), more than 3,000 people visited the exhibition. There was also an exhibition of books. Most leading publishers of books on Islam displayed their titles. Of special interest were children’s books produced by the first generation immigrants for the next generation.
The final day of the seminar included a public session attended by 1,000 people. Speakers at the public session included Syed Mehdi Hakim of Iraq, Maulana Waheed ud Din Khan of lndia, Muhammad Salahuddin (editor of the Jasarat, Karachi), Altaf Hasan Qureshi (editor of the Urdu Digest Lahore), Shaikh Toure of Senegal, Professor Syed Salman Nadvi and Sister Fatima Heeren.
The public session of the seminar passed a resolution condemning the recent move by the Saudi government to restrict Hajj travel from London to the Saudi airline and British Airways only. This will prevent many thousands of Muslims who travel to Jeddah by other airlines at much lower prices from performing the Hajj. PIA was planning to take British Muslims to Jeddah via Karachi. This too will not be possible now unless the Saudis change their minds.
The full text of the recommendations adopted by the seminar is as follows:
This seminar is of the view that the Haramain in the Hejaz and their immediate environs are a common heritage of the entire Ummah, and that authority over them must eventually pass to such institutions as may by consensus of all the schools of thought be created for this purpose in the future. This seminar hopes that discussion of this issue will be initiated at all levels.
This seminar has taken note of the fact that maps prepared by international Zionism show Medina al-Munawwara in the state of ‘Greater Israel’; recent policies of the traditional enemies of Islam, including the superpowers, the European states and the State of Israel, leave us in no doubt that a grave potential threat to the defence of the Haramain exists.
In the opinion of this seminar, the defence of the Haramain is the duty and historical destiny of the entire Ummah, as indeed is the liberation of Al-Quds. Institutional arrangements will have to be developed to allow for the emergence of agreed political, administrative and military frameworks for the effective performance of these tasks.
The Qur’an has clearly proclaimed that the Believers are a single Ummah. This seminar is of the view that the Hajj should cease to be merely an annual performance of certain rituals, and should now be developed into a dynamic expression of the Wahdah of the Ummah.
This seminar is aware that there exist in the Ummah a number of Schools of Thought and great many more diverging opinions on many kinds of issues. Yet this seminar is firmly of the opinion that diversity exists within the overall framework of beliefs and practices that unite the Ummah. Facilities should be provided in the Hejaz for the expression of views in the peaceful and serene atmosphere of the Hajj.
This must mean:
1. The provision of facilities for the hujjaj to express and exchange views.
2. The provision of facilities for the hujjaj to participate in activities designed to increase their knowledge and awareness of the major issues facing the Ummah.
3. The provision of facilities for the youth of the Ummah to undertake study and spiritual training in and near the Haramain.
This seminar expresses its concern over the ever-increasing administrative and bureaucratic impediments in and through all countries to free travel and access to the Haramain that have come into existence. In the view of this seminar, free and unhindered access to the Haramain at all times of the year is the inalienable right of every Muslim, to be restored immediately. All visas and other restrictions must be abolished,
CENTRE OF LEARNING
Throughout history, the Haramain have been centres of learning and erudition. Their decline as centres of learning and the emergence of secular educational institutions, values and norms, is a major loss to the Ummah. This seminar is of the view that steps should be taken to re-establish such centres of learning that may serve the needs of the scholars and students from all parts of the Ummah in the Haramain and the Hejaz.
INFLATION AND THE COST OF HAJJ
This seminar is alarmed by the rapidly increasing cost that the hujjaj face in the Hejaz. The rate of inflation and the prevailing scarcity prices of essential services such as accommodation. transport and professional fees are out of all proportion to the general levels of inflation and prices in the world today. The level and degree of profiteering and bureaucratic corruption add greatly to the hardship of the hujjaj.
This seminar takes the view that efforts should be made to create a ‘Hajj economy’ in the Hejaz which is more in line with general levels of income in the Ummuh. The old established waqf lands, rabats and properties must be restored to their original purposes to alleviate the hardship now suffered by the hujjaj.
UTILIZATION OF MEAT
The Seminar notes with deep regret the continued waste of nearly all the meat of the many hundreds of thousands of animals that are sacrificed during Hajj each year. The Shariah gives clear instructions on the question of the utilization of this meat. Waste of any kind is greatly frowned upon in Islam. With careful planning and the use of freezing techniques it should be possible to preserve this meat and ship it to the areas of great poverty and need in the Muslim world.
This seminar asks the Muslim Institute to consult with Muslim engineers and technologists on this matter.
MONUMENTS AND BUILDINGS
This seminar notes with deep regret that many historical buildings and monuments in the Hejaz have over the years been allowed to be demolished and disappear for ever. The seminar calls upon the authorities now in physical control of the holy places to take steps to identify, preserve and protect such monuments and buildings of historical importance and interests as still remain. Monuments that have disappeared should be marked with suitable plaques on the sites where they once stood.
THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE HARAMAIN
This seminar notes with deep concern the growing commercialism that surrounds the Haramain, in the form of advertisements for goods and services which are often in conflict with the teachings and spirit of Islam.
Crescent International, August 16-31, 1982.