115 – Sacred Pilgrimage

What I feel like saying….
Sacred pilgrimage no matter what religion, culture or practices is something, some of us feel needs to be done to restart, reboot and even seek some form of redemption or salvation for ourselves and the humankind. 
I’ve gone many of such pilgrimages in various forms and intentions. But one is major for me. 
Hajj. 
I knew every sacred pilgrimage that occur to someone is personally tailored to them. Somehow the Creator knew what needs to be faced and ensure we get the lessons we need to lead better lives. 
It’s truly deep and immersive for me. I cannot truly put everything in words but I’m truly grateful for every experience. 
There were many lessons and miracles shown to me. But this is just 1 minor one. 
I was seated facing the Kaabah (Muslims around the world pray facing the Kaabah. To me its where the stone, Haajar aswad was placed- was said to originate from Heaven was white when it came but turned black upon coming into contact with us, humans cos of the sins accumulated) . 
I was seated with another stranger woman amongst other strangers. I was meditating, saying prayers, praying that my sins were cleansed and I get to reborn when this pilgrimage was done. 
Then came a soldier, or military man shouted or say something out loud to the woman beside me and roughly push her to move away. He was uttering in Arabic. I didn’t truly understand. Looking at the myriad faces around me, perhaps most of us did not understand either. 
The woman stayed as long as she could but she was roughed up (pushed, pulled, tugged) . I then noticed our surroundings were men. 
A thought came upon me- perhaps they were clearing up the place for men to pray (in our prayers, men stood in front to lead whereas women stayed behind them. There was only one small area for women in front of the Kaabah but it was often congested). 
But part of me felt that, they should have at least put a Big Universal sign (In English or any languages known to all, images even… ) or converse with compassion. 
These military people (I called them that because they dressed in some military colored uniform)…should learn English or some form of polite customer service. 
And women should not be roughed up. I was afraid but I stayed as if I was a rebel just like her. 
After a long time of enduring that, she left. And I was the next victim. 
The “military man” or the guard or the staff of the Mecca mosque took my tiny sling bag on my shoulder, and tug so hard as if I was gonna be flung onto the floor. 
I stayed as long as I can. No one came to help. The men of many nationalities including the locals watched but do nothing. 
I can leave but I was adamant to prove a point. A point I soon forgot upon being humiliated in public. I was just fighting for my right. The right to be treated with respect. 
Feeling disappointed like a woman who seemed helpless yet no one, in the name of love or sympathy or even religion came over to dissipate this invisible “duel”. 
I guess the uniform did its job. It creates fear. And though there were millions or billions, cos its the hajj season, no one dared to do what humanity should do-stand up, defend, help another in time of need. 
Inside me, I felt a rebellion rising – “People should not keep a blind eye to this!” Nobody should.”
We should stand up for each other. Though we may not know each others’ words or language. The body language was clear enough. He was roughing me up to leave my place. 
I felt an outrage rising within me. 
Eventually I left while hot tears were burning my cheeks and my sling bag, torn. 
I felt its a personal lesson for me to reflect. 
I’m not sure if there were any changes, since then. 
I’ve been visiting these holy  places in 1998,1999 and 2011 and I’ve not noticed any changes between the “guards/staff/military men” with the myriad pilgrims coming all over the world. 
They were rough, rude and definitely uncivilised. 
I felt they were not a good representation for a religion that emphasize on love and peace. 
And I was young in my twenties and thirties… But what if it concerns aged, elderly people?  
But whatever I say, may fell on deaf ears (it’s not as if I can write a letter or placed my comments and dispute in a box so that they can improve… ). 
But that was the first outrage I felt and action I took in protest, to protect my own gender, woman against man.  
I felt that in such cases where pilgrimage supposed to be sacred and religious, there should be lots of compassion, love and gentleness especially towards women, children, elderly and those incapable of taking care of themselves.
 
And no person should be humiliated and bullied, especially not in public where there were millions of people just watching by as if I was in some form of TV show. 
People should learn to stand up. For themselves, for others, for the world. 
And how can we stand behind men, who were supposed to be leaders (in prayers, religion, in family or life), who cannot fight or stand up and watch blindly to “unkindness” being shown in front of them? 
Yes, I may be wrong…in wrong place, wrong time. Or even fighting a wrong cause or showcasing a wrong point. 
Yes, I’m a visitor in the holy land,not the locals. But we spent lots to come here. Not just thousands of money but also time, energy, and more. 
We did not come here to be badly treated. We should be respected. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and love. 
And how can we treat our own people of Islam with such unkindness? Didn’t our religion taught us to be otherwise? 
I felt that I no longer can keep a blind eye to unkindness and roughness shown by bullies in public. 
Perhaps some of these military men carry guns or carry some form of intimidation in their uniforms. 
Perhaps the fear was so strong that it felt like the balls of men were culled out as they watched a woman being badly treated and roughed up in public. 
Where is their sense of justice or even “man’s innate  protectiveness” to protect the weak or those being bullied…or just simply humanity’s collective empathy? 
Perhaps that was the moment, I truly lost my respect towards men, in general. Or perhaps its nonexistent. 
My excuse being… 
Because I’ve seen men in my family, community and then in  sacred holy ground behaving weak. Instead of protecting and honouring their greatness to help others, they prey on them.
My former spouse did not stand up for me, not my brother, nor my fathers, definitely not uncles, nor male friends. None.  They did not stand up for me, honor me, defend me or even protect me from the “evil people” (and some were evil themselves). 
Perhaps this belief has became my truth from all the years I’ve observed or perhaps I’ve adopted in my childhood watching how the women around me were bullied and preyed upon by the very men who were supposed to protect, cherish them and defend their honour.
And so I stood up, protecting me… All these years. I’ve become the MAN. 
Perhaps that was the biggest lesson in this.
Men… 
WAKE up. Don’t let the women fight their battles alone. If we become men and be stronger than you, why do we need you at all? 
And women, especially dear self…. 
We have to look deeper within ourselves and heal those wounds and beliefs about men that are not empowering. 
Yes, the men of our pasts have disappointed us. But that does not mean, all men are like that.
I’ve seen many wonderful men who defend, protect and cherish their women. It’s possible there are such men around and they are abundant. 
Let’s all acknowledge that and be grateful for each other. 
I also acknowledge that…. 
As I heal more so will my reality be healed. 
Let’s all… 
Take time to heal and forgive them (and ourselves as well). 
I still am a Muslim because I believe that religion is simple and good, only humans complicate it. 
Eid Mubarak. 
Happy blessed Hajj day… 
Love, 
Lina. 
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