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From Hajj back to temptations

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[FILES] Pilgrims performing hajj

“Whoever performs the Hajj for the pleasure of Almighty, and utters no evil words and commits no evil deeds in the process, shall return from Makkah free from sins like the day in which his mother gave birth to him.” Prophet Muhammad.

How does the servant who just completed the rites of Hajj and has thus become an Hajji maintain his newly-found spiritual capital and identity in the maze of iniquities and unbelief? How does an Hajji go about retaining the catholic mien and ambience that the whole hajj exercise hitherto made possible once he arrives the homeland where profanity and obscenities have become familiar while piety and decency have become unfamiliar? How might the Hajji maintain the spirit of the pilgrimage in a community and amidst groups of people who are constantly on their journey to the cathedral of the faithless?

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In other words, if indeed there are questions that those who have just completed the rites of pilgrimage in Makkah on Wednesday this week would constantly have to ponder and answer such might include some of the above. It might include the whole challenge of staying the course when temptations to throw the spiritual patrimony away are seemingly irresistible.

Yes. We are now in the post-hajj season. Pilgrims are now back to their homeland- some into communities where they are minorities and others into spaces where they are minorities of the minorities. Yet others are back to distant lands where they are in the majority- in Asia, in northern parts of Africa, in Nigeria.

No matter where they may find themselves after the season of pilgrimage, the challenges pilgrims to the Holy lands of Makkah and Madinah would face are likely to be similar. They shall be confronted with the reality that they are no more within the vicinity of the Kaaba- the epicentre of Islamic socio-spiritual reality. The reality shall dawn on them that they have left Madinah; that Arafah has been left behind, that Muzdalifah is now a very distant landscape. Pilgrims to the Holy lands of Makkah and Madinah would face the reality that unlike their brief sojourn in Makkah and Madinah where attendance of congregation prayers was imbued with uncommon spirit of humanity, of universality and communality, they shall now source inspiration to excel from within themselves, not from the other.

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They shall discover that they are no more in ‘Saudia’ but in Nigeria. They shall be welcomed back to the bubbling cities of Lagos and Lahore, to the rumbling cosmopolitan metropoles in Cairo and Kandaha where materialism and spiritualism compete with equal measure and candour for the attention of humans without prejudice to their gender and status.

The moment he arrives back to that city of ‘wonder’, the new Hajja would be reminded that she is back to the capital of the modern world where heterosexuality is in contest with homosexuality, where secularity is taking over the hitherto hallowed spaces of religious orthodoxy. She would begin to see images of women in nudity, of men who are their way to becoming women- men wearing earrings, men learning how to walk and sound like women.

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Afis Ayinde Oladosu Ph.D
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies
Dean, Faculty of Arts,
University of Ibadan, Nigeria

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