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Fiqh 502: MAIS

Overcrowding in Ḥajj and ‘Umrah


Rituals: The Jamarāt and Tawāf

Veronika Matulova
Islamic Online University
Fiqh 502: MAIS
Overcrowding in Ḥajj and ‘Umrah Rituals: The Jamarāt and Tawāf | Veronika Matulova

Islamic Online University


Master of Arts in Islamic Studies

Overcrowding in Ḥajj and ‘Umrah Rituals: The


Jamarāt and Tawāf

Veronika Matulova
Fiqh 502: MAIS
Attempt Count: 1

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Overcrowding in Ḥajj and ‘Umrah Rituals: The Jamarāt and Tawāf | Veronika Matulova

Islamic Online University


Master of Arts in Islamic Studies

1 TABLE OF CONTENTS
2 Introduction to Ḥajj (Pilgrimage) ............................................................................................. 4
3 Rites of Ḥajj .............................................................................................................................. 5
4 Ḥajj Stampede in Headlines ..................................................................................................... 6
5 Overcrowding Management: The Jamarāt .............................................................................. 6
5.1 Throwing Pebbles into the Jamrah .................................................................................. 6
5.2 Delegation of the Stoning of Jamarāt .............................................................................. 7
5.3 Time for Stoning ............................................................................................................... 7
5.4 Sequence of the Stoning .................................................................................................. 9
5.5 Limitation of the Luggage Carry-on.................................................................................. 9
5.6 Preventive Structural Measures of the Jamarāt Bridge ................................................... 9
6 Overcrowding Management: The Tawāf ............................................................................... 10
6.1 Touching the Black Stone or the Yemeni Corner ........................................................... 10
6.2 Structural Upgrade of the Mataf .................................................................................... 10
7 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 11
8 Bibliography ........................................................................................................................... 12

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َ ‫الر ْح َٰم ِن‬


‫الر ِح ِيم‬ ِ َ ‫بِ ْس ِم‬
َ ‫ّللا‬
All praise is due to Allāh alone. May Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad
after whom no prophet will come after.

2 INTRODUCTION TO ḤAJJ (PILGRIMAGE)

One of the pillars and majors acts of Islām is Ḥajj (Pilgrimage). Allāh, in His infinite Wisdom,
ordered Muslims to perform Ḥajj to Mecca. It is considered an act of worship. Allāh has ordered
Prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham) to call believers to His House, the meaning of which is,

“And proclaim to the people the Ḥajj [pilgrimage]” (Qur'ān, 22:27).

And

“In it are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe.
And [due] to Allāh from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find
thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves - then indeed, Allāh is free from need of the worlds”
(Qur'ān, 3:97).

Prophet Muhammad (‫ )ﷺ‬further confirmed this obligation by stating, “(The superstructure of)
Islam is raised on five (pillars); testifying that there is no god but Allāh, that Muhammad is His
bondsman and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakāt, Pilgrimage to the
House (Ka'ba), and the fast of Ramaḍān” (an-Naysaburi, Book 1, Hadīth 20).

Nevertheless, this obligation of Pilgrimage is limited only to those who can afford it, “…and
perform Ḥajj (Pilgrimage) to the House of Allāh, if you can afford it” (Ad-Dimashqi, Book 18,
Hadīth 1522). Shaykh Al-Fawzan explained, “It is obligatory for the one who has enough
provisions and means of transportation to travel to Mecca and return to one’s folks” (Fawzan,
2005, p. 404).

Hence, according to the Book of Allāh, the Sunnah of the Prophet (‫)ﷺ‬, and agreement of the
Muslim scholars, Ḥajj is an obligatory act of worship prescribed to all free, adult Muslims of sound

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mind who can afford it. It is not permissible for anyone who has means to perform the Pilgrimage
to delay it for the sake of anything (Q&A, Fatwa no: 101590).

3 RITES OF ḤAJJ

The Ḥajj is a five-day pilgrimage performed from the eighth to the twelfth day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah in
Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Encyclopedia, 2017). It has essential, obligatory, and Sunnah
actions.

The essential parts are four:


1. Entering iḥrām through intention.
2. Standing in ‘Arafah.
3. Circumambulation of the House
(tawāf az-ziyārah, also called
tawāf al-ifādah)
4. Sa’i, which is running or walking
seven times back and forth
between the hills of As-Safā and
Al-Marwah. Figure 1 Hajj Guide (Infographic designed by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya News)

The obligatory parts are seven:


1. Entering iḥrām at the designated location.
2. Standing in ‘Arafah until sunset for those who reach it by day.
3. Overnight stay in Mina during the days of At-Tashrīq (Dhu’l-Ḥijjah 11-13).
4. Overnight stay in Muzdalifah.
5. Stoning the Jamarāt in the right sequence (symbolic stoning of the Devil.)
6. Shaving the head or cutting hair.
7. Farewell circumambulation of the House (tawāf al-wadā’).

Not completing any of the essential parts will deem Ḥajj invalid. Omitting an obligatory part
requires a compensatory sacrifice (a sheep). While there is no penalty for not completing the
Sunnah actions (Q&A, Fatwa no: 223333).

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4 ḤAJJ STAMPEDE IN HEADLINES

In 2010, the estimated Muslim population around the world was 1.6 billion. By 2050, the
estimated number should grow to 2.76 billion, or 29.7% of the world’s population (Drew DeSilver,
David Masci, 2017). In consequence, the number of Muslims performing a pilgrimage has also
grown over the centuries. Naturally, this has created a challenge for the Ḥajj official to keep
everyone safe. One of the most problematic locations is the Jamarāt.

Several incidents involving the Jamarāt Bridge have caught the headlines. In 1994, 270 pilgrims
died as they rushed to the Jamarāt (Times, 1994). Four years later, in 1998, at least 100 people
died either by falling off the bridge or being crushed underfoot (Press, 1998). 35 people died
during the Jamarāt ritual in 2001 (News B. , 2001). More deaths were reported in 2003, 2004,
and 2005.

The Ḥajj of 2006 has seen one of the worst tragedies at the Jamarāt with 364 people killed in a
stampede at the entrance of the bridge (IslamiCity, 2009). Unfortunately, in 2015, Ḥajj stampede
has created worldwide headlines again for being it the worst tragedy to hit in more than two
decades. It is not clear what has caused the sudden crush of the five-storey Jamarāt Bridge, which
has left at least 719 pilgrims dead and more than 800 injured (Paul Gallagher, Ian Johnston, 2015).

5 OVERCROWDING MANAGEMENT: THE JAMARĀT

5.1 THROWING PEBBLES INTO THE JAMRAH

The Jamarāt ritual means throwing a certain number of pebbles in the specific places for stoning
in Mina. The Jamrah is the basin surrounding a pillar called the Marma. In order for this rite to
be completed, pebbles must fall inside the basin. The pillars have been erected in order to help
the pilgrims throw seven pebbles, of the approximate size slightly larger than a chickpea, inside
the basin. It is not essential that the pebbles hit the pillar rather they should fall inside the basin
(Q&A, Fatwa no: 126231). Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn has further specified that it is sufficient to
believe in all likelihood that the pebbles fell into the basin since being certain in our time is
difficult (Islamweb, Fatwa No: 276400).

The pilgrims access the stoning rite in Mina via 950-meter-long and 80 meters wide Jamarāt
Bridge, which is constructed around these three pillars. The basin and the pillar itself has also

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seen upgrades and expansions to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims and prevent
pilgrims from throwing stones at the people on the other side. The oval shape of the basin and
the three 40-meter high pillars have significantly improved the congestion and stampedes (Still,
2010).

Figure 2 (Left) The Jamarat during the Ḥajj of 1953 (source: https://www.islamiclandmarks.com/makkah-
other/jamarat). (Right) Ḥajj 2016.

5.2 DELEGATION OF THE STONING OF JAMARĀT

Many of the reported deaths are of the elderly and women. Regrettably, many of these deaths
could have been avoided by simply educating pilgrims. Against the popular belief, it is possible to
delegate the stoning of Jamarāt for fear of hardship and crowding. Especially the elderly, children,
and pregnant may use the possibility of delegation. The delegated person is able to stone for
himself and on behalf of another in one standing (Q&A, Fatwa No: 49036). Meaning, he may
stone the first Jamrah for himself, then for the other person, then move to the next pillar, throw
for himself and then the other person, and then complete throwing at the third pillar firstly for
himself and then the other person. (Fawzan, 2005, pp. 455-6). However, a person should not be
careless and delegate without any proper excuse especially if he is able to throw during times
when the Jamarāt Bridge is less crowded (Q&A, Fatwa No: 34420).

5.3 TIME FOR STONING

Stoning of the Jamrat al-‘Aqabah on the day of Eid is from sunrise until sunset on the day of Eid.
If a person fears overcrowding or is weak and elderly, he or she may stone from the end of the
night of Eid (the night before) as done by Asma’ bint Abi Bakr as indicated by Shaykh Ibn
‘Uthaymīn. Nevertheless, the stoning should not be delayed until dawn on the 11 th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah
(Q&A, Fatwa No: 49022).

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During the days of Tashrīq, high congestion resulting in stampede occurs as the pilgrims rush to
perform the stoning at noon according to the instructions of the Prophet (‫)ﷺ‬, who has stoned
after the sun has passed its zenith and said, “Learn your rituals of Ḥajj from me” (an-Naysaburi,
Book 7, Ḥadīth 2976). Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn has explained that while the time begins after the
sun has passed its zenith, it lasts until nighttime. Thus, if anyone fears overcrowding, there is
nothing wrong with stoning the Jamarāt at night as long as it is done until dawn.

Due to the overcrowding resulting in many deaths, the timing of the stoning has created a debate
among scholars. Majority of the scholars follow the opinion that it is not permissible to stone
until after the meridian and if a person has done so, he must repeat it. This was the opinion of
Imām Ahmad, Ibn ‘Umar, Imām Mālik, At-Thawrī, Ash-Shafi’ī, and others. Nevertheless, some
scholars have given the permissibility to stone before the meridian following the concessions of
Ishāq, ‘Ikrmah, Tawūs, and others as stated by Ibn Qudāmah. In conclusion, stoning the Jamarāt
after the meridian is based on the strongest evidence and it is more on the safe side. Thus, stoning
before the meridian is not valid according to the majority of scholars (Q&A, Fatwa No: 96095).

Pilgrims who fear overcrowding or harm may stone the Jamarāt at night because there is no
evidence stating that it is not allowed. In a ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīth narrated by Ibn Abbass, it is said that a
man stoned after evening came and the Prophet (‫ )ﷺ‬did not object to it (an-Nasa'I, Vol. 3, Book
24m Ḥadīth 3069). Nevertheless, stoning at night is only valid for the day on which the sun has
set as indicated by Shaykh Ibn Bāz (Q&A, Fatwa No: 96095).

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn further elaborated that stoning the Jamarāt at night is permissible except
on the night before Eid, when it is not permissible except at the end of the night. Stoning at night
has been established on a principle that preserving the act of worship itself is better than
preserving its time or place so long as the time allows that. Hence, he regarded stoning at night
better than stoning during the day, because a pilgrim may attain proper focus and do the act in
the more calm environment and in a required manner (Q&A, Fatwa No: 96095).

In 2016, Ḥajj officials have informed of new restrictions on the timing when stoning is permitted.
The Jamarāt ritual is now reduced by 12 hours over the course of three days; i.e. no stoning
allowed from 6 AM to 10:30 AM on the first day, from 2 PM to 6 PM on the second day, and from
10:30 AM to 2 PM on the last day (Hajinfo, 2016).

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5.4 SEQUENCE OF THE STONING

During the days of Tashrīq (Dhu’l Ḥijjah


11-13), a pilgrim should throw pebbles
into each of the three Jamrahs. The
throwing should be performed in the
correct sequence starting with the first
Jamrah, then the middle one, and finally
ending with the last Jamrah (i.e. the
Great Jamrah, Jamratul-‘Aqabah). Figure 3 The Jamaraat Bridge and three pillars

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn said that if a


person did not follow the proper sequence due to some legitimate reason, he is excused
(Islamweb, Fatwa No: 276400). Nevertheless, according to the majority of the scholars, a pilgrim
who did not respect the sequence is obliged to offer sacrifice due to it being an obligatory part
of the Ḥajj (Q&A, Fatwa no: 223333).

5.5 LIMITATION OF THE LUGGAGE CARRY-ON

In 2006 incident, the pilgrims were trampled to death after tripping over luggage left at the
entrance to the Jamarāt bridge. Thus, to improve safety, no large bags or luggage are allowed to
be carried to the Jamarāt (IslamiCity, 2009).

5.6 PREVENTIVE STRUCTURAL MEASURES OF THE JAMARĀT BRIDGE

The original Jamarāt Bridge had only


two levels in 1963 and was designed
for approximately 300,000 pilgrims
(Davis, 2017). After the incident in
1994, the bridge was widened from 40
to 80 meters (Net, 2018). By 2005, the
number of pilgrims increased to more
than 2 million, which has forced the
government of the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia to rebuild the structure in 2006
(Davis, 2017). The old bridge was
demolished and the new multilevel Figure 4 The new multilevel Jamaraat Bridge
bridge was completed in time for
2009/2010 Ḥajj season (Ebara, 2010). The world’s leading manufacturer of people-moving

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products, Otis, was hired to find a solution to the crowd safety after the incident in 2015 where
a part of the five-level Jamarāt Bridge suddenly collapsed. This has led to new improvements of
the bridge and in 2017, an estimated number of 3 million pilgrims have performed the pilgrimage
with as many as 300,000 people crossing the Jamarāt Bridge every hour on the newly upgraded
Jamarāt Bridge. The new bridge is on five levels with expanded ritual walls, hundreds of
escalators, several elevators, two helipads, and an air conditioning system (Davis, 2017). The
designers have kept the increasing number of pilgrims in mind; hence, if and when needed, the
bridge may expand up to 12 stories in the future (IslamiCity, 2009).

6 OVERCROWDING MANAGEMENT: THE TAWĀF

6.1 TOUCHING THE BLACK STONE OR THE YEMENI CORNER

Pushing and shoving occurs when people are trying to reach the Yemeni Corner or touch/kiss the
Black Stone. While it is desirable to touch the Black Stone, it is not prescribed to do so if it is not
easy for a pilgrim to do in a calm and dignified manner. If he is unable to reach the Black Stone,
it is sufficient to point to it. One’s tawāf, Ḥajj, and ‘Umrah is valid without kissing the Black Stone
(Q&A, Fatwa no: 34644).

Regarding the Yemeni corner, there is no report from the Prophet (‫ )ﷺ‬obliging the pilgrim to
point to it or kiss it. Hence, it cannot be compared to the Black Stone rather it is considered to be
an innovation narrated in a weak ḥadīth, which cannot be taken as evidence. (Q&A, Fatwa no:
34644).

6.2 STRUCTURAL UPGRADE OF THE MATAF


Mataf is the circumambulation space around the Ka’ba. In 2016, the expansion of the mataf has
been completed after almost three years of renovation (English, 2016). Previously, the mataf area
accommodated 52,000 pilgrims. After the expansion, 130,000 pilgrims may circumambulate the
Kāba in an hour (News A. , 2012).

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Figure 5 – (Left) Pilgrims in 1920 at the Ka’ba. (source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/mecca-transformation-


photos_n_5738098#gallery/362163/1). (Right) Ka’ba Circa 1935: (source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/mecca-
transformation-photos_n_5738098#gallery/362163/3)

Figure 6 (Left) Ka’ba Jan. 23, 2004, (source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/mecca-transformation-


photos_n_5738098#gallery/362163/9) (Right) September 25, 2015 with mataf under reconstruction. (source: Mohammed Al-
Shaikh / AFP / Getty; https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/09/mecca-then-and-now-128-years-of-growth/408013/)

7 CONCLUSION
As demonstrated in this research paper, religious ease and structural upgrades have been put in
the place in order to prevent disasters during the blessed Pilgrimage. Crowd control is an
extremely challenging task, which is not possible without the discipline of the people themselves.
Hence, we pray and hope that the pilgrims will educate themselves further and follow the
guidelines put forward by Islamic principles, scholars, and Hajj officials. May the future
Pilgrimages be without any major accidents and loss of life.

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