Change the venue

Newsweek Pakistan reports:

The death toll from last month’s haj stampede has topped 2,000, according to tallies given by foreign officials, making it the deadliest disaster in the pilgrimage’s history by far.

Saudi Arabia has yet to provide an updated death toll after saying 769 people died in the tragedy near Mecca, home of Islam’s holiest sites. But figures given by more than 30 governments around the world show that at least 2,097 foreign pilgrims have died.

That’s so horrific. It wasn’t an earthquake or a flood or a mudslide, it was just way too many people in one place, trying to carry out a “religious obligation” that dates from a time when Islam was a local religion and the locality was sparsely populated. It was just way too many people, crowding and pressing and suffocating each other, to the tune of over two thousand human beings.

The loss of life in the Sept. 24 disaster far exceeds the 1,426 pilgrims who died in the haj’s worst previous incident—a tunnel stampede in July 1990.

Here is a breakdown of the dead from foreign governments:

Iran: 464 dead

Nigeria: 199 dead

Mali: 198 dead

Egypt: 182 dead

Bangladesh: 137

Indonesia: 129 dead

India: 116 dead

Pakistan: 89 dead

Cameroon: 76 dead

Niger: 72 dead

Senegal: 62 dead

And so on, in descending order.

You know what would be good? Merciful, helpful, compassionate, while still being religiously obedient? If all the top clerics put their heads together and issued a Ruling that now that there are so many Muslims, the hajj is a pilgrimage to the Most Important Mosque in one’s country or region. Period; end of discussion.

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