We, as a race, are exposed to and established for our behavioural complexities globally. The recent video of Umrah pilgrims fighting over some petty issue in Madeena sharief while pouncing over the food counters, certainly shows that it is high time to introspect.
And ponder over our temperamental and behavioural frailties by creating an effective methodology at community level for behavioural modelling to avoid such embarrassing eruptions in future.
At least for our present and future generations, who because of extreme compulsions have to move out of Kashmir for their jobs and survival necessities, striving and struggling to create a positive image of our race in and outside the country.
The Umrah, revered as an important spiritual journey after Hajj, mostly done for forgiveness and seeking mercy from almighty, provides us with a chance for enlightening and cleansing our hearts and mind.
But this is possible only when we consciously, with total involvement of our mind, soul and physical capacities, with all humility, perform it!
Starting from our home, en route ka'aba, Madeena, and till our return, best is to continue with all humility the practice of good deeds post Umrah in our day to day life. But the kind of things one observes, it needs a serious thought and we need to ask ourselves whether we are achieving the real purpose of spiritual bliss from Umrah or has it become another leisurely trip !!!!?
The unfortunate incident as mentioned above has thrown huge challenge for us as a community, travel agencies dealing with Umrah, and specifically those individuals who choose to go for this revered journey!!
As a community we need to educate our society about the importance of this spiritual journey and its vast difference from usual business or leisurely trips.
The community leaders with religious knowledge should take time out for grooming the potential Umrah pilgrims well before time so that they are well aware of its different norms and behavioural decencies mandatory while performing this spiritual activity.
The families of Umrah pilgrims also have an important role to educate themselves and also educate their members who are potential Umrah pilgrims about the reverence of this journey; specifically when the pilgrim is not that literate and is less exposed to air travel, transit procedures and cultural variations. Ultimately every individual carries his family traditions and culture with him /her along.
The travel agencies dealing with Umrah pilgrims have most important role to play as primarily they should educate and train the pilgrims properly and should also take this as spiritual service and not only for commercial purpose.
They must educate their potential pilgrims about the details of their travel, hotel accommodation, which is mostly on room sharing basis, and mass catering, buffet system of food.
They should be truthful and transparent about the price of the package as the ignorant are being exploited a lot; which has been the main reason for the recent issues in Mecca and Madeena as some travel agencies book at a low cost to increase the number of their group.
But incompatible rates, particularly in the harmain makes things difficult for the Umrah pilgrims, specifically in the winter months of December to March. Because the hotel industry in Mecca and Madina work on demand supply basis and change their rates surprisingly on day to day basis which causes huge crises for Umrah pilgrims from Kashmir.
Riyaz Sidiqui, the owner of Riyaz Travels, a Saudi Govt Recognised Umrah service provider, has sent 15 thousand pilgrims in last few months of this Umrah season. He has a different opinion about the issues faced by Kashmir pilgrims. He blames the agencies who charge less amount only to compromise on quality services.
He says that we need to understand because of the flow of Umrah pilgrims, who come from neighbouring gulf states by road, and pay any rate to hotels in Mecca and Madina, room tariff goes up. This complicates the situation for Umrah pilgrims from subcontinent, specifically for Kashmiris. Riyaz Travels works in association with Sheezan travels.
The last but not least, responsibility lies with the individuals themselves as it is their resources, effort and involvement in all respects which is at stake. It is for the individual to be serious about this purposeful spiritual journey for which one yearns throughout life. Umrah pilgrims at individual level have to ensure they follow the conduct which our beloved prophet (SAW) ordered us to follow
It is very disturbing to see the Umrah group leaders (except few) making unnecessary hue and cry just to show off their expertise of leading Umrah groups from Kashmir at the airports, inside the plane, or any other pilgrimage site.
Kashmiri pilgrims, particularly can be seen making loud noise, standing in long queues to use airplane toilets which most of the times get dirty because of the overflow of excessive flushing.
It attracts the attention from the crew and the co-passengers, reflecting adverse travel behaviour. The pilgrims must adhere to calm and harmonious behaviour, because one of the main purposes of this pilgrimage is to develop a feeling that we are part of one human race.
The Umrah is an important opportunity for us to exhibit the spiritual essence, humility and absolute submission to Almighty.
This is the hallmark of Islam. It is possible only when we introspect and completely involve ourselves for enlightening our inner self, shed our false egos, and exaggerated self images.
The Umrah pilgrims should set an exemplary standard of behaviour throughout this pilgrimage and become ambassadors of true essence of spiritual status, and an accommodative culture.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.