Friday, November 27, 2009

MUSLIMS BEGAN THEIR ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE, THE HAJJ

MILLIONS ATTENDING THE HAJJ PILGRIMAGE FROM
PORT OF JEDDAH TO THE MUSLIM HOLY CITY OF MECCA
MOUNT ARAFAT (BBC News) - Two million or more Muslim pilgrims braved scorching heat outside Mecca today to pray for forgiveness in the final stage of the annual hajj pilgrimage - the world's largest religious gathering. This year 1.6 million of the faithful have come from abroad. The biggest foreign contingent is from Indonesia 200,000 while India is sending 164,000 and Pakistan 140,000. Saudi officials reported that heavy rains and flooding killed at least 48 people in Saudi Arabia, adding to this year's worries about swine flu and the permanent threat of deadly stampedes.

Security is paramount, with 100,000 police and troops deployed in and around Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. Mecca's Grand Mosque alone is monitored by 1,850 CCTV cameras.
At Muzdalifa, the pilgrims collect pebbles to throw at walls at the Jamarat Bridge on three occasions over the next three days in an act that symbolizes the rejection of the devil's temptations. The haj marks sites that Islamic tradition says Prophet Ibrahim - biblical patriarch Abraham - visited in Mecca and that Prophet Mohammad established as a pilgrim route 14 centuries ago after removing pagan idols from Mecca. Mount Arafat, at the centre of the plains of Mina, was the scene of the Prophet Muhammad's final sermon 1,377 years ago. The day of Arafat is considered one of the most sacred days of the Islamic calendar. The hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and it is the duty of every able-bodied Muslim to perform it at least once in a lifetime. Pilgrims spend the day at Mount Arafat, the mountain of mercy, in prayer, chanting: "Here I am in answer to Thy call, Lord, here I am. There is no other God but Thee. Praise be unto Thee.", this is the high point of the four-day ritualt. Meanwhile, Iran has been angered by warnings that demonstrations will not be tolerated, however Iranians were left alone to chant "death to America, death to Israel" without intervention during hajj.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Needless to say, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was one of the greatest humanists. His boundless love had no barriers of religion and sect. Śrī Haridāsa Thākura, originally a Muslim by birth, was one of his earliest disciples. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī were two of his most famous disciples, who were originally under the service of Hussain Shah, the then Muslim Ruler of Bengal. ... Although he is held in high esteem as religious leader of the Hindu faith, he embraced into his fold, men and women of all religions and sects. In middle ages, his Bhakti movement spread far and wide, covering a large portion of India. As forecasted by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu himself, today, this movement is out to conquer the heart of every individual, throughout the world, by its unfailing message of love and compassion.
Śrīla Bhakti Bibudha Bodhayan Maharaja
Lecture: Śrī Gopinath Gaudiya Math
"Our Organization, Its Aims and Objectives"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBBBM/

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