Hajj Departure in Mauritius


Our old ‘miajees’, who were ‘sixieme fail’, and who were neither Hafiz-ul-Quran nor had doctorates in Arabic, used to play a game of ‘boojhowna’ [jeu de mots]. One which I vividly remember is this one: If you want to go to Jannat, your best course is to steal and eat Haram. Translation: to steal is to pray secretly when you are watched by nobody, like praying Tahajjud, when no one can see your ibadat. This is in line with the hadith that your left hand should not know that your right hand is giving to charity. To eat Haram is to swallow your anger, which itself is Haram and is the root cause of multiple undesirable actions.

With the advent of modern travel and opening of institutions of higher learning in Muslim countries, we have witnessed a growth in the number of Maulanas, Qaris, Hafiz, Muftis and Sheikhs. Mauritian Muslims, as we know, are exposed to learned Jummah talks; social media also adds its own contributions towards the enlightenment of the Ummah. Their stand on the “savage” rodeo shows of youths accompanying qurbani animals on noisy motorbikes and gave a blow to the image of Islam have ceased.

Paradoxically, practices which most Muslims regard as ‘unislamic’ have not disappeared in spite of all the efforts by our learned community. Take for instance the travel to Mecca. The scene at our airport on the departure day of our prospective Hajees can be likened to a tamasha. Each pilgrim is accompanied by a dozen or so of close relatives so much so that no parking space is left vacant in Plaisance and some cars have to be parked outside the parking lot.

Before their departure prospective pilgrims are treated to lavish dinners and expect same on their return with the title of Hajee added to their names. Some would send WhatsApp pics while they are performing Tawaf or happen to be in precincts like Muzdalifa, Mina and Arafat. Complaints on return would include the quality of food, the delays during their travel or the lack of consideration on the part of the organisers. So, our newspapers cover Muslim pilgrimage to and back from Mecca during four weeks. 

The scene at the airport is an ocean of white clothes, with many competing to have pictures of the event published in the press, each telling in detail the history of their sacrifices and struggles to save for this great venture as if seeking a nod of approval from the readers. Our “old school miajees” would have described this type of departure with multiple photos from cameras capturing the pious faces of our would-be Hajees as the height of [dekhawa] show-off. 

I know I am not being “kind” and I am offending many. But I share Thomas Paine’s wisdom that those who do not offend cannot be honest. I am sure Allah will be on the side of our old preachers after all.