Thursday, October 10, 2013

How Will The Islamic State Organize Hajj??

The Islamic state will organize hajj with the objective of serving the pilgrims and assisting them in completing this obligation in the best manner possible. Making money out of the pilgrims, be it for the hotels or the transport or food would not be from its aims, it would rather curtail such practices if they happen.
Currently the planning of the Haram mosque doesn't allow accommodation of more than 3.5 – 4 Million at one time. Considering the current population of the Muslim Ummah and its growth in terms of those accepting Islam the number of Hajis allowed to do Hajj need to be increased. This is the first challenge for the Islamic state. Any increase in the Hajis will require restructuring of the outside area and inside area of the masjid.
In 1982 when King Fahd came to power he announced the expansion of the haram and built an extension now known as the King Fahd extension. King Abdullah, the current king of Saudi has also announced another extension which is expected to be completed by 2020.
King Fahd's extension plan required large areas of lands to be acquired from the surroundings of the mosque. Thousands of houses were destroyed which included many relics from the past. A large part of the acquired lands and houses were given away to real estate developers which led to several non-Muslims (who otherwise are not allowed entry into makkah) to open their hotels around Haram. Radission, Sheraton, Intercontinental...all of them have high valued properties surrounding the Haram. Not only this, they don't mind giving away the holy land to ill-reputed people, not long ago infamous Paris Hilton was allowed to open her franchise showroom in the vicinity of the masjid.
So the expansion project for the King did not only give him political mileage but also benefited many of his family members who now had stakes in the fledging real estate property in Makkah.
Initially the Islamic state will attempt at increasing the open space surrounding the Haram so that more pilgrims can be accommodated. As temperatures can become very high during summers, the open space would also be covered using mechanical Umbrella shaped shades (similar to the ones used in Madina). Oxygen dispensers would also be installed along with them which will emit oxygen and moisture combined to eat the heat during summers. This would be initial plan of the state and then extensive makeovers will happen with time covering these spaces and air-conditioning them.
The current structure covers an area of 356,800 square metres (88.2 acres) including the outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to four million worshipers during the Hajj period.
It is noteworthy to mention that the gigantic Shamiyya project to the north west of the Sanctuary is being developed on an area of one million five hundred thousand square meters approximately, extending from the extremities of the sanctuary to beyond the second circular road to the north and from the Holy Mosque Street to the east and Jabal al Qaaba road to the west.
The plan includes Al-Shamiya, Garoul, Alqarara wa Alnqa. The area to be developed reached three million square meters distributed among different activities, of which hotels, hotel residences, commercial centers, and markets, general services, in addition to permanent residences for the people.
If only this area which is adjacent to the Haram was converted to a marbled plane praying space for the Pilgrims, it would accommodate 4.5 Million Musallis! And if it was converted into a two storey covered space then that number would be doubled. The existing area for developing AlShamiya includes developing residential and hotel spaces meant for 250,000 people and praying space for only 400,000 people.
The Jabal Omar project to the south western side of the mosque for which more than 600 properties have been seized involves constructing two five-star hotels with 935 rooms, and six three-star hotels comprising 1,255 rooms, across an area spanning 244,800 sq m. Residential buildings reaching 20 storeys to accommodate 100,000 people, 520 restaurants and 4,360 commercial and retail units are also being built. The current plans include a plan to make a 6 storey building for musalli's to accommodate 100,000 musalli's.
The Islamic state's mission would be to ensure that the 5th pillar of Islam can be fulfilled by more and more people and in this endeavor it would not seek to make wealth from the pilgrims rather it would aim at assisting them and aiding them and providing them all the facilities which would make their pilgrimage easy.
Jabal Omar if it is only converted to a plane as mentioned earlier with mechanical umbrella shaped shadings and oxygen dispensers can accommodate 0.75 Million Pilgrims for prayers.
Jabal Khandama another project covering over 600,000 Sq Meters of space is being developed into mixed use area mostly hotels and residential apartments and shopping units. Redeveloping this area as a prayer space will give space to about 2 Million Musalli's.
All these projects are adjacent to the Haram and can be annexed with the Haram with ease.
In most of these projects properties are acquired often with little or no compensation and in some cases the owners are given less than a week to leave the property.
The jabal kaaba is another of these projects which covers about 46,000 Sq meters. Similar is the case with the Ajyad fortress on the mount bulbul which was destroyed to build the Abraj al bait towers. These towers along with other towering structures are a violation of the Kaba's sanctity. It is ironical that on one hand airplanes cannot fly from above the Haram but on the other hand high rise towers can constantly dwarf the Haram.
Historic sites of religious importance which have been destroyed by the Saudi's include five of the renowned "Seven Mosques" initially built by Muhammad's صلى الله عليه وسلم daughter and four of his "greatest Companions": Masjid Abu Bakr, Masjid Salman al-Farsi, Masjid Umar ibn al-Khattab, Masjid Sayyida Fatima bint Rasulullah and Masjid Ali ibn Abu Talib.
It has been reported that there now are fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of Muhammad. Other buildings that have been destroyed include the house of Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, demolished to make way for public lavatories; the house of Abu Bakr, Muhammad's companion, now the site of the local Hilton hotel; the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of Muhammad, and the Mosque of Abu-Qubais, now the location of the King's palace in Mecca; Muhammad's birthplace, demolished to make way for a library; and the Abraj Al Bait Towers, built after demolishing the Ottoman-era Ajyad Fortress.
The ostensible reason for much of the destruction of historic buildings has been for the construction of hotels, apartments, parking lots and other infrastructure facilities for Hajj pilgrims. However, many have been destroyed without any such reason. For example, when the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم was discovered and excavated, King Fahd himself ordered that it be bulldozed in case it should become a pilgrimage site.
The Kings Palace on mount Abu Qubais which covers over 100,000 sq meters will make way for accommodating more pilgrims for prayer.
So if the surrounding region of the Mosque was freed from buildings and even if it was preliminarily converted into marbled open space, it would make space for at least 10 million Pilgrims.
Certain structural changes to the mosque will also have to be performed. For e.g., the mataf (tawaf area) will have to be expanded. Removal of the ottoman era enclosure will lead to much more space in the mataf area and further expansion of the mataf can be done by removing more of the enclosure so that the mataf size increased.
To ease matters for children, women and elderly people, the State would make use of modern technologies such as travelators on the upper floors. Not only will this ease the matters for the pilgrims but will also stop the wheelchair owners from charging people exorbitantly.
As for the evidence why travelators may be used, we know this from the hadith Narrated by Ibn Abbas (RA): In his Last Hajj the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم performed Tawaf of the Ka'ba riding a camel and pointed a bent-headed stick towards the corner (Black Stone). [Bukhari]
Similarly travelators may be employed between the Safa and Marwa as well.
The second challenge the State will face will be that of the residence for the dwellers of Makkah and the pilgrims. Makkah being a mountainous region has several mountains which cover its terrain. Removing these mountains and developing the areas into residential areas will solve lot of the residential problem. Large swathes of land are covered by these mountains towards the south east of the mosque, and to the north of hijrah district and the south of Mahbas Al jenn parking.
With the growth of the Muslim population, there will come a time when even what the State would have planned will fall short. The state will then have to work on establishing satellite towns next to makkah to house the Pilgrims and city dwellers but such a reality is not expected very soon but will certainly happen when the whole world converts to Islam.
عن تميم الداري قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول : ليبلغن هذا الأمر ما بلغ الليل والنهار ولا يترك الله بيت مدر ولا وبر الا أدخله الله هذا الدين بعز عزيز أو بذل ذليل عزا يعز الله به الإسلام وذلا يذل الله به الكفر وكان تميم الداري يقول قد عرفت ذلك في أهل بيتي لقد أصاب من أسلم منهم الخير والشرف والعز ولقد أصاب من كان منهم كافرا الذل والصغار والجزية
It was narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad, from Tameem Al-Daari, who said that he heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم say: "Verily, this matter (Islam) will reach where day and night have reached, and it will not leave a house of Madar (mud or clay) or a house of Wabar (fur of camels and goats, i.e. tents) except Allah will bring it into this Deen, (either) with the honour of an honoured one, or the disgrace of a disgraced one; honour with which Allah honours Islam, and disgrace with which Allah disgraces Kufr."
The third challenge the state will face is that of transportation. A complete overall of the current transport system is required. A combination of public transport System & Mass Rapid Transport systems (MRTS) will serve the needs of the pilgrims. The Mass Rapid transport systems will be employed in the sacred places such as the Makkah mosque, Mina, Muzadalifa , Arafah initially but will eventually cover all the areas of the Sacred sites.
The design and construction of the MRTS would be underground and would involve several lines at each port. This is so as to avoid congestion at the ports of embarking and disembark. Examples of effective utilization of MRTS in cities like Malaysia, Delhi, London and others will be studied and adopted.
At any station the number of people who can embark on a train and the number of trains that arrive periodically should be planned in such a way so that there are mishaps and accidents due to overfilling of stations.
This year in Arafah, several people died at the metro stations. The reason being that there are 21 trains and each train can take 4000 pilgrims at one point of time but the number of pilgrims who had entered the stations just after sunset was much larger. Many died due to suffocation and some died due to the ensuing stampede. The Islamic state cannot afford to experiment putting the lives of the Muslims are stake so it will plan things in a manner that do not cause hassle for the pilgrims.
As for the public transport, there is a serious lack of public transport vehicles inside the city and the roads are narrow and badly managed. Private cars would not be allowed near high congestion areas like the Haram mosque and Arafah and transport in these areas will be provided by the States vehicles.
As for the challenge the state will face for Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafah. The reality of these towns is similar to that of Makkah, they are mountainous. Where there are mountains they should be brought down and high storey buildings built in their place. The sunnah for the haji is to stay in Mina and not that it has to be in a tent and therefore high storey buildings will allow very high and effective utilization of space.
The reason why the Saudi government has not attempted at constructing the buildings is because of the very low return on investment on their money. The Islamic states ROI will be the reward for its efforts it would make in making Hajj easy for the Muslims.
The current problem in these three towns is that of transport and space, the MRTS will resolve the transport problem and high rise buildings will address the space constraints.
The current planning of Jamarat is excellent and can accommodate a much larger number of pilgrims than todays.
Another challenge the state will face is that of food and water. Large desalination plants will be installed in Jeddah to cater to increasing need of water and Zamzam water will be availed at different places around the city and the other sacred places. A strict control over food quality will be maintained, no adulteration in the food will be allowed and overcharging the pilgrims will not be allowed.
All this will be maintained more by developing the Taqwa in the people and reminding them and less by the stick.
The State will endeavor a similar parallel program in Madina as in Makkah.
May Allah سبحانه وتعالى grant us the victory and allow us to re-establish the Khilafah on the path of prophethood soon.

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US Exceptionalism : 10 things the US is exceptional at

In his speech on 24th September 2013, President Obama endeavoured to remind the world of America's exceptionalism conveying some of the most pressing issues facing the US today. Obama contextualised the shift from 20th century warfare to the modern political paradigm of using diplomacy in order to deal with a hostile political environment in the Middle East. In his words "I believe such disengagement would be a mistake. I believe America must remain engaged for our own security, but I also believe the world is better for it. Some may disagree. But I believe America is exceptional. In part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interest of all." [1] The speech addressed the current US position on Syria, the US viewpoint on Egypt, their relationship with Iran and emphasised their commitment to the democratisation of the Middle East.
Barack Obama emphasised America's exceptionalism – this is the belief that the United States is "qualitatively different" from other nations. Whilst the US stood as the global unipolar power since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, today America no longer enjoys exclusive political, economic or moral supremacy. What follows are 10 things the US truly is exceptional at:
1. Police State
In June this year a former CIA operative, Edward Snowden exposed US surveillance activities which revealed much about the inner workings of the US government. The revelations by Snowden uncovered PRISM, a clandestine electronic surveillance program that allowed the NSA to access email, web searches and real-time internet traffic. It involved collecting millions of emails and content from social media and was effectively spying on its own citizens on an industrial scale. The NSA leaks also claimed that the US hacked Chinese mobile phone companies to collect millions of text messages as well the Asian fibre-optic network operator Pacnet. These revelations caused international embarrassment for the US and publicised hypocrisies and double standards. The US has always accused China of cyber espionage yet it has now come to surface that they are guilty of hacking and are of the best hackers in the world. All of this shows that spying rather than the freedoms is how social cohesion is maintained in America.
2. Rendition
The Open Society Justice Initiative's (OSJI) 213-page report into the CIA's global rendition program has revealed that nearly a quarter of the world's governments were involved in the covert movement, detention and subsequent torture of dozens of people during the post 9/11 'War on Terror'. It has become clear that without the co-operation of the global community the US would have been unable to carry out its rendition program, making all those involved complicit. It has always been known that other countries were involved as the American sub-contracted the torture to countries such as Syria, Libya and Uzbekistan. In truth the United States runs what is akin to an organised mafia cartel that goes around the globe for nothing more than colonial and economic interests. The talk of human rights, international law and organisations such as the International Criminal Court are just a smoke screen to fool the world. On the one hand the US pushes for freedom, democracy and the implementation of their ideology in the Muslim world, whilst on the other they use this same ideology to render innocent individuals for torture. [2]
3. Nuclear Holocaust
It took a lot of exceptional Americans to develop the atomic bomb. But when just two of those weapons of mass destruction were dropped on Japan, it's estimated that 220,000 men, women and children were killed by those blasts. That's a heavy cost to bear by the only nation to use such a weapon -- a country that routinely questions whether other nations can be trusted with its destructive power. It is also estimated that since 1945, the United States has produced more than 70,000 Nuclear Warheads, which is more than all other nuclear states combined.
4. Napalm
Napalm, another deadly development of US exceptionalism, was invented by a Harvard University professor. When a napalm bomb explodes, a flaming gel spatters indiscriminately in every direction. It clings to anything it touches with flames that reach up to 5,000 degrees. As a weapon of mass destruction, napalm is unique in the destruction it can create. No other country has used napalm more than the US
5. Pornography
US entertainment dominates the global media, but it is also exceptional in that it also possess the world's largest pornographic industry. Valued at $13 billion America's pornographic industry is an industry in its own right. Earlier this year pornographic production was suspended temporarily due to the growing number of HIV cases where actors and actresses were tested HIV-Positive but it was no surprise when it quickly restarted after a week of investigations [3] The pornographic industry is the occupation of about 20,000 people in the US who rely on selling their bodies for an income. There is indeed no difference in the illegal prostitution of women which in some parts of the USA is legal
6. Depression
In the pursuit for happiness, the USA has exceptionally failed. Anxiety disorders are the most common illness the USA faces, affecting 40 million adults (18% of the population) costing the US more than $42 billion per year almost a third of the country's $148 billion mental health bill [4]. America's and France jointly share the number one spot for the most people who have experiences depression. 1 in 5 people in the US are considered depressed.
7. Crime
It would be no surprise if Rockstar Games were inspired by America in their latest GTA 5 launch since America truly is a reflection of Grand Theft Auto with explosive crime rates. Murder, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Motor Vehicle Theft are daily occurrences in the States. The FBI Crime Clock revealed in 2011:
1 Violent Crime took place every 26.2 Seconds,
1 Murder took place every 36 minutes,
1 Burglary every 14.4 seconds,
1 motor vehicle theft every 44.1 seconds and,
1 rape every 6.3 minutes.
Whilst the 2012 Crime Clock is yet to be made available, the preliminary 2012 crime statistics have shown increases from the previous year [5].
8. Obesity
McDonalds is one of the most famous symbols of the US and a sign of economic success. Indeed the success of McDonalds led to a hyper-competitive food industry and a country that transformed a peoples from old fashioned cooked food to processed fast food. The colossal of food companies led to cheap, fast, unhealthy processed food inevitably leading to obesity. Obesity has been cited as a major health issue in recent decades and the obesity rates in the US are the highest in the world. Obesity has been contributing to approximately 100,000 -400,000 deaths in the US per year and has cost an estimated $117 billion in direct and indirect costs to the economy. This exceeds health care costs associated with smoking or drinking and accounts for 12% of national health care expenditures [7].
9. Military Spending
Whilst America's industry is able to produce state of the art technologies and platforms, where the US has been exceptional is in developing weapons to kill, maim and massacre. Indeed for the US to maintain its hegemony over the world it needs a prosperous military and perhaps the most exceptional phenomenon about the US is it's expenditure on military and foreign military sales to dictators. Nearly half of all of the world's military expenditure was by the USA until the effects of the global financial crises and the post-Iraq/Afghanistan operations led to a decline but still accounted for 39% of global spending in 2012 [8].
10. Debt
The global financial crisis has brought to the forefront how much the US lives beyond its means. The US generated nearly $14 trillion in 2007, however the national debt – this is money the central and federal governments owe to the US public and the world through the bonds they have sold - stands at $9.7 trillion. The US citizenry have a huge appetite for imports and real estate; as a result consumer debt stands at $11.4 trillion. The debts of US companies amounts to $18.4 trillion. This makes the US indebted to the tune of just under $40 trillion – nearly 75% of what the world produces. In a Harvard report it was calculated that 10% of the US population owned 71% of the nation's wealth, whilst the top 1% controlled 38%. On the other hand, the bottom 40% owned less than 1% of the nation's wealth, 5 this has created 37 million Americans who live below the poverty line. The US is only able to live in this way because it has the US dollar, which is the world's reserve currency, however this massive wealth fracture is not sustainable and the sustainability of living today and paying for the lifestyle tomorrow is becoming untenable. [11]
In conclusion America's precarious exceptionalism was summed up by a US writer:
"The United States is at the end of the period of global leadership and domination that we've enjoyed for the last 50 years or so. The country is bankrupt economically. We've lost our edge in terms of politics, economics, socially. We no longer compare well with other countries around the world, and we're not admired as we once were by countries around the world. And we're not viewed as a model for economic and political development, as we once were. So this really marks a global shift in world history, both for the United States and the rest of the world. It is a gloomy picture, and this wasn't an easy book to write for that reason. But I think the facts speak for themselves. If you look at the United States, both in terms of comparing us to 20 years ago or in comparing us to other developed countries in the world, the United States doesn't come out on top on almost any measure anymore. And this has long-term implications that are going to affect the way we live and the role we play in the world. So it is a gloomy picture, although I think there are ways in which the United States can eventually emerge from this in a solid position." David S Mason, 'The End of the American Century.'

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