(here to read 3/4) …
when he built the Kaaba with his son Ishmael. Then we run between the famous two hills, now
integral parts of the holy places: the hillocks of Safa and Marwa, or what’s left of them. We run just
like Ishmael’s mother did in hopes of finding help from a caravanserai which would have gone of
f. The slave who wanted to save her son from the horrors of the desert, after his lover and master
Abraham abandoned them, obedient to the will of Sarah his wife, not to leave a half-
brother to his legitimate son, Isaac. We drink water from the well of Zamzam: the miraculous spring, the Lourdes of Muslims. It appeared according to the tradition after the archangel Gabriel hit the sand with his heel to provide to the slave and her son what quench their thirst. Water supposed to cure all diseases.Our pilgrimage is now done in the tradition of the Prophet. Bloodless, we return to the hotel to refresh ourselves. Before enjoying a few hours of sleep in the morning, we return to the
Haram, in time for the dawn prayer as we are advised by the Qur’an:
“Therefor (O Muhammad), bear with what they say, and celebrate the praises of thy Lord ere the
rising of the sun and ere the going down thereof. And glorify Him some hours of the night and at the
two ends of the day, that thou mayst find acceptance.” (Qur’an: 20.130).
In general, our days are punctuated in Mecca, as inMedina, by prayer, meals and shopping.
Some of us are like the Peripatetic philosophers of ancient times, walking in the teeming streets of
the holy city -Umm al-Qura, “the mother of all cities” – between the Haramand our hotel, while
discussing metaphysical and Islamic exegesis. Some are talking about verses of the Qur’an regarding
The status of women in Islam, they heard several times during their prayer led by the imam, or
passing a shop selling audio CDs of the Qur’an:
“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hathmen the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women )…”(Qur’an: 4.34)
That is not a coincidence that we heard this verse repeatedly during our ‘Umrah of Tawheed, as this is a verse that is often used to demean wrongly women to an inferior status and sometimes to lead some dogmatic Muslims to justify physical violence against women,while other interpretations
are possible. We also speak of this term often used in the Qur’an, Amina has crossed several times at random from these readings from the Qur’an during our ‘Umrah.Namely the term fahish a -E
– which appears six times in the Qur’an; this term can be translated as”abomination” or “serious transgression of social rules” but is invariably translated by the dogmatic Muslims by “homosexuality” or “sodomy”, when it comes to describing the extent of all rapes,robberies, and crimes of piracy committed by the people of Lut. Again, we all agree on the fact that the prejudices of scholars too heavily influence the representation, which should be soothed and universally inclusive, we develop freely of our, cultural and spiritual Islamic heritage. Anyway here in Mecca, during our free times, we took our habits in the huge shopping center, topped by a luxury condominium over a hundred floors high, newly built just in front of Mecca; an enormous building among the highest in th
e world, dominated by a clock of a garish taste only a few of us really appreciated. But this is pr
obably a sign of a mandatory modernization, against which we can do nothing. Some of us escape as much as possible these crowded spaces to meditate facing the Ka’aba. We try hard to always pray together, usually at the rear of the Grand Mosque and on the second floor; since the mutawwa
– religious police -strictly forbid, and sometimes violently, to the men and women to pray together. This is a bid’ah – an innovation in Islam – against which our group tries several times to resist: we try to pray the sunset prayer over the central courtyard facing the Ka’aba, men and women in our group all mixed. Unfortunately, we were driven out and some have even been pushed aggressively by the conservatives who have no respect for human dignity. Indeed, the religious police deploy incredible energies to impose its sectarian and dogmatic patriarchy at the heart of the Islamic holy of holi
es. It seems thought that some form of violence is now authorized to maintain strict gender segregation, that still a few years -those who already came on pilgrimage to Mecca told us – had never been applied in Mecca.Conservatives’ violence does not forbid us to stay there sometimes for hours, rocked by this tremendously positive magnetism from the Ka’aba, thanks to millennia of worship and prayer invoked by generations of men and women of goodwill; we will spend six extraordinary days here in Mecca. Not far from the center of the city, we will also visit the Hira cave on djabal Noor-“Mount of Light” – where the Prophet Muhammad used to isolate himself from the bustling city to meditate. This is where our beloved Prophet received the 17 of Ramadan 611 AD the first Qur’anic revelation that leads him to direct, from that time and for over twenty years, these human brothers and sisters to knowledge.
In Mecca either, Amina Wadud was invited even before we left by family and friends of the famous Saudi feminist: Dr. Ajwad Hatoon al-Fassi. The father of Dr. Hatoon, Sheik al-Fassi, is one of the foremost masters of Saudi Arabian Sufism; his family was persecuted for years by the totalitarian
regime of the Wahhabis. Amina, on his return, will share with us very warm story of these two days
she spent in company of Saudi intellectuals who who still believe that a better, enlightened future,
far from the macho and patriarchal myths and superstitions, will ever be possible for Saudi Arabia
and all Muslims.
Moreover, a member of our group, Mustapha, decided shortly before we left to dedicate a second
‘Umra pilgrimage to his late mother, may God welcome her soul in His infinite mercy. We follow him until the miqat for people of Mecca; it is the beautiful mosque of ‘Aisha, the favorite wives of the Prophet Muhammad. The corbels interiors are beautifully decorated of finely carved precious woods.
After our ablutions, we pray there before we return to Mecca where we arrive once again just in time for the sunset prayer. Mustapha accomplishes once again the rites for this ‘Umrah to his mother: seven convolutions around the Ka’ba, the salute to the black stone, the prayer behind the
mausoleum of Abraham, the running between Safa and Marwa, the visit to the waters of Zamzam.
Then the next day, on the 18 June – 28 Radjab 1433 Hejira-, after performing tawaf al-wada’-“the
convolutions of the farewell to the Ka’aba” -we leave Mecca by the Jeddah International Airport,located less than fifty kilometers away, by the flight of 7am for Paris. Once at the airport Charles DeGaulle, most of us separate, the feeling of having experienced a mystical, human experience, beyond our most positive expectations. Amina Wadud will be leaving the next day to return home to San Francisco, California. Some of us share thereafter the fact that they now carry in their heart, when they pray at home facing the Kaaba, the vision of w arm brotherly love lavished on each other by all members of the first’Umrah of Tawheed.