Muslims around the world are preparing for Eid al-Adha. At this time, one of the most popular tourist destinations for Muslims – Mecca and Medina – opens on the eve of the holiday. However, they are not open for everyone – many believers, even in their entire lives, fail to perform the Hajj.
At the check-in counters for the flight to Istanbul formed an endless queue. True, these people do not fly to the Turkish coast, but in transit to Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the Prophet Muhammad. There they will meet the main Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha and make a pilgrimage to holy places. Some 30 years ago, this was an unaffordable luxury.
“In 1985, I made my first hajj, still under Gorbachev. At that time, there were only 15 of us from the entire Soviet Union, ”recalls the pensioner
“This is the goal of every believer, to fulfill the duty that God has entrusted to him,” the man believes.
For most Russian Muslims, the meeting place is the Moscow Cathedral Mosque. Here Imam Marat Arshabaev reads a sermon in front of tens of thousands of parishioners. But when he arrives in Mecca, he becomes an ordinary pilgrim, and also experiences sacred awe.
“It’s great when people from all over the world in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the USA pray together. This is a great brotherhood, one might say a conference for all Muslims,” says the clergyman.
One of the main sacraments – bypassing the black stone of the Kaaba – Muslims perform ihram in a white cloak. You need to buy it in advance and put it on before the flight to Mecca: at the airport, or on the plane. It is a whole science to wear ihram correctly during the pilgrimage.
“From the right shoulder, we throw it. And already when we have made a full collab, we again throw it and make the prayer “Maqam Ibrahim”. In translation, the place where the foot of the prophet Ibrahim was, ”the imam explained.
On average, there are thousands of times more people wishing to perform the Hajj than the lucky ones who succeed. The mosque in Mecca can accommodate a maximum of one and a half million pilgrims, they let them in strictly according to the lists. Therefore, official quotas are issued for the Hajj. The ticket is expensive and depends on the living conditions. Today it is from 2 to 5 thousand dollars.
“If just a person came from the street, he has money, he says: give me a tour, I will make the Hajj, it won’t work. Because a person has to prepare himself. For example, I have to prepare myself now in order to perform the hajj next year,” Arshabaev said.
Prepare not only mentally. All religious tourists undergo special instruction: what to take with them, how to lead near the sacred Zamzam well, when to throw stones in the Peace Valley and what words to pronounce. The sequence of rites, stretched over two weeks, should bounce off the teeth. It is also important not to get lost on the spot, in the crowd. Pilgrims, hardened by the Moscow metro, are most likely not in danger, but even in such a case everything is thought out.
“Everyone has a badge for this. On it, you approach the policeman and say: dear, I’m lost, I’m from Russia, I need to go to the camp. He says: go to the fifth block. We look at the pillar: yeah, we go there,” the imam shared.
In many countries, people wait for a ticket for the Hajj for years and line up. But before the main journey of life, it is useful for a Muslim to make a small pilgrimage – I will die. It’s not hard to get to him.