Returned from Hajj with the feeling that pillars-based islah is a useful groove to inhabit. These institutions and rituals which move us and make us offer real scope for practical action.
Wudhu Area Studies and Fasting not Feasting fit into this line of thinking. Hajj is a different scale altogether, in terms of the prophetic time travel involved, the structures of injustice it demonstrates and the fervour with which our beloved ummah just goes for it.
The social and spiritual justice of Hajj is not about the Makkah Clock Tower, unless you wish to officially stone the bugger by including it in the jamarat. The English language papers of the Arab world are full of technocratic analyses, people thinking through different tinkerings, blaming hajis for the litter and my favourite, 'clamping down on illegal hajjis'.
Yet it is us, and our tafsirs that make the hajj what it is.
Books, knowledge and the epistemic taste shape hajj. I love the South Asian attention to fiqhi detail, Shafiq Morton's Notebooks from Makkah and Medina for elucidating the unspoken, and the way that Darussalam volume (Davids) weighed a blooming tonne without actually doing much. Even that bin Baaz book came in useful.
This soul-dried trinity of ibn Saud (political sovereignty) - Salaphication (religious sovereignty) - Bin Laden (construction sovereignty) have produced a particularly lived space for hajis, families, groups and nations to dwell in. The built environment, religious policing, infrastructure and bureaucracy condition a characteristic experience, which you feel differently according to whether you are: female, Iranian, poor, non-Arabic speaking and unfamiliar with the latest bizarre policies of the Hajj ministry.
We Hajj despite these authorities. But, what if we could retire them?
Who would we select/trust to administer Hajj? Would getting the Turks to do it be a backwards move?
What could Hajj become? and just how hard would the Ummah rock the Three Days of Tashriq?
Perhaps what might work better is a facilitative core to ensure the dignity of the hajis, multi-scalar collaboration and a less restricting religious field would quickly ensue. Like Tawaf.
Allahumma Accept our Hajj, transform us and our rendering of it.