straight from becca, better known as mecca

i just got back to riyadh from umrah (that is the lesser pilgrimage, in islam)
basically i went from riyadh to the mountain city of taif, stayed there, from there carried out a “sortie” on the haram-al-shareef (noble sanctuary, that is the holiest site in islam) in mecca, got back to taif, rested, and got back to riyadh
the haram is as wonderous as ever, the ka’bah a looming and magnificent structure as throngs of pilgrims go around it without stop (except for the five obligatory prayers spaced out throughout the day) — and this is at 2:30 am, mind you
i can’t estimate, but there were quite a few thousand people around — from all over the world — and this isn’t even hajj
(the bible makes a prophecy about a house of worship where mass worship never stops, the doors are always open — to my knowledge, there is no such place except for mecca)
we left the mosque at 5:00 am, having completed the umrah and fajr prayers there
great experience as usual
except for the extremists barking at women to move
you see, during salat time, space really fills up — and the haram isn’t segregated by solid barriers (it just can’t be), so some women overflowed into the space for men, and that was fine because room was made for them — until this old extremist moron comes and starts barking at them to move, violently and vuglarly, and they comply to a degree — but there’s no space, where do you expect them to go — and he keeps barking at them
so a youth who was watching it all finally gets up and tries to stop him, this old geezer smacks him a couple of times and a fight erupts (verbal, thankfully — the youth didn’t get a chance to retaliate physically as some mohrems stopped both)
this, ladies and gentlemen, is the spirit of islam, if you can’t get some tolerance and peace in haram al-sharif, don’t expect iran and iraq to become the best of bed fellows
what really ticked me off is the way the mutawwas or “religious police” — they weren’t even religious police, i think, but rather some dudes appointed by the mosque — and their manner of getting women to move wasn’t much different than this old geezer (who wasn’t authorized by the mosque) — they were WHIPPING at the women with their robes, what the hell is that
you get people from all over the world coming to this single spot, you’d expect some decency, tolerance, kindness, understanding, and peacefulness from these annointed ones
but no, let’s all bark like dogs

notes:
- saudi government’s done a bang up job on the roads, really well made … so why not bother putting a few signs here or there to let people know where they’re headed and how to get there?
- how about teaching people safe driving habits, such as not going damn slow on a heavily used single-track mountain road so that the other morons don’t try to pass you and the car behind you — it’s a wonder more people get out of the mountain road alive than dead
- perhaps a little more forward outlook and planning in mecca would help to NOT make it such a disaster spot? why not build fast moving mass train systems between mecca and other cities (i.e. taif, jeddah, etc.) so that those buses don’t kill every odd fellow with asthma and breathing problems and cause massive traffic jams and slow a trip that would normally take fifteen minutes to four hours during hajj season?
a little planning could save a lot of inconvenience
- a lot more could be said and done, shame it is

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