Response to Moazzam Begg’s notorious article to boycott Hajj to oppose Saudi Arabia

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by Umme-Humayoon Begg

What the Kingdom magnanimously spends in return upon the pilgrims, pilgrimage and the Holy Mosques is way beyond the 3% Moazzem Begg boasts of spending.

Recently, the most nefarious man Moazzam Begg in his article ‘urged Muslims to oppose the Saudi government even if it cost them their Hajj’ and Tunisian religious official Fadhel Achour also called for boycott of Hajj.

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Islam is based on the following five principles:

  1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).
  2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
  3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity)
  4. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca).
  5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan, [Sahih Al-Bukhari 8, Vol.1, Book-2, Hadith 8]

And, ALLAH almighty says in Surah Al-Baqara Verse 196, “And complete the Hajj and Umrah for ALLAH”

Narrated Abu Huraira: ALLAH’s Messenger (ﷺ) said “And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one excepted by ALLAH) is nothing except Paradise.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1773, Vol. 3, Book-27, Hadith 1]

Only the most nefarious of men – like Moazzem Begg and Fadhel Achour – could sell an ideologue contrary to Quran and Sunnah – urging Muslims to boycott the 4th pillar of Islam i.e. Hajj.

Muslims must remind themselves of the wars Caliph Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq fought against the Apostates. Al-Khattaabee said there were two categories of apostates. The first who abandoned Islam altogether and the second category who distinguished between Prayer and Zakaat, recognizing the importance of Prayer but rejecting the beliefs that Zakaat is compulsory and that it must be paid to the Imam.

Al-Qaadee ‘Iyaadh classified the apostates into three categories – the third, who continued to believe in Islam, but denied Zakaat as being something specific to lifetime of Prophet.

Abu Bakr said, “By Allah, I will fight against anyone who distinguishes between Prayer and Zakaat.”

Umar ibn Al-Khattaab later confessed, “By Allah, in Abu Bakr’s decision to fight against the apostates, it became clear that Abu Bakr’s Faith (Eemaan) outweighs the faith of everyone from this nation put together”

There is a right and obligation upon every Muslim to pay Zakaat or perform Hajj. For Zakaat & Hajj – like the Prayer, the Testimony of Faith and Fasting – are one of the pillars of Islam. By rejecting any one of those pillars, one exits from the fold of Islam. In short, Abu Bakr made it clear that, without Zakaat, the testimony of faith has no value in the lives of people.

Imagine, urging Muslims to boycott a pillar of Islam Hajj, whereas our righteous Caliphs were so passionate to preserve them! Nothing could be as vile as intellectual dishonesty – especially when that comes from men like Fadhel Achour who is not opposed to gay marriages in Tunisia; OR Moazzem Begg who proclaims to have held interactions with extremist organizations in Syria and was declared a ‘terrorist risk’.

Moazzem Begg calls Saudi rulers ‘sycophants’ who live a treacherous ‘ultra-luxurious lifestyle’ off oil and pilgrimage, concluding ‘boycotting Hajj is a powerful weapon in their collective hands’ to punish and destabilize the Saudi government.

FACT is: Hajj spending makes a negligible 3% of Saudi GDP and revenues.

  • Projected Hajj spending in 2015 amounted to Sr. 17 bn ($ 4.5 bn).
  • Saudi Arabia had set a state budget for 2015 with total revenues projected to reach $190.7 billion (SR715 billion).
  • Moazzam Begg asserts Kingdom earns from Pilgrims. These stats contradict him.
  • Hajj Revenues / Total Revenues = Percentage Earnings
  • $ 4.5 bn / $ 190.7 bn = 2.35%
  • 2013 – Revenue from pilgrims makes 3% of Saudi GDP.
  • Saudi Study says Hajj 2017 Revenues Touch on $4 Billion.

FACT is: What the Kingdom magnanimously spends in return upon the pilgrims, pilgrimage and the Holy Mosques is way beyond the 3% Moazzem Begg boasts of spending. The Kingdom ensures flawless facilities, safety and security enabling the pilgrims to perform their rites in perfection.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has started a massive SR500 billion ($133 bn) expansion projects which are underway and on-track in Madinah. Mega projects include expansion of Prophet Mosque at a cost of SR. 70 billion ($18.6 billion), Dar Al Hijra housing & services project worth SR. 55 billion ($14.6 billion), the Madinah Haramain high speed rail project at a cost of SR.60 billion ($16 billion), Knowledge City at SR.25 billion ($6.6 billion) and the expansion of Prince Mohammed Airport at SR.6 billion (1.6 billion).

Since 2008, Makkah expansion and construction projects for pilgrims, surrounding Makkah began as a three decade $227 billion plan. The largest single project is of $60 billion Grand Mosque Expansion.

These random stats should put ingrates calling for boycott to shame. The Kingdom serves selflessly without motives, without flaunting or bragging – testimony to the generous expenditure it has endured since decades. May ALLAH bless and aid them as Custodians of the two Holy Mosques!

Furthermore, to encourage non-pilgrimage tourism the SCTH under the initiatives of NTP 2020 shall implement 79 projects. Rehabilitation and operation of 15 handicraft centers, 28 urban heritage sites, establish 18 regional museums to 24 in Kingdom. SCTH will rehabilitate 80 archaeological sites, bringing their total to 155, in addition to registering three more sites on UNESCO World Heritage List, bringing Kingdom’s total registered acclaimed sites to seven.

More than 5,200 construction projects worth $800 billion are currently rolling out in all major cities of Saudi Arabia.

Vision 2030, the $500 billion NEOM expected to generate an annual income of $100 billion, and multi-billion dollar Al-Qiddiya Projects are testimony to Kingdom’s resolve to diversify tourism sector, reform Saudi economy for post-oil era and become an innovative force.

Last, I wish to put Begg’s arrogance in place who declares ‘as for Hajj and Umrah, it is in our hands’. No, it is not! Read Surah Al-Hajj and repent.

It was reported in at-Tabari (18:605-607) from Ibn Abbas that Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him said: “O Lord, how can I convey this to people when my voice will not reach them?” It was said: ‘Call them and WE will convey it.’

So Ibrahim peace be upon him stood up and said: ‘O Mankind! Your Lord has established a House so come on pilgrimage to it.’ The mountains lowered themselves so that his voice would reach all regions of the Earth, and those who were still in their mother’s wombs and their father’s loins would hear the call. The response came from everyone in the cities, deserts and countryside, and those whom Allah decreed will make the pilgrimage until the Day of Judgment, as Allah said:

“And proclaim to the people the Hajj (pilgrimage); they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass”- [Surah Al Hajj 22:27]

O’ Muslims, protect your Faith and Hajj even if it costs the world!

Umme-Humayoon Begg is a regular writer on contemporary issues of Middle-East and the Arab World.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect The Milli Chronicle’s point-of-view.