In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring
I still remember it as if it was yesterday: my wife and I were on our way back from the ritual “stoning of the Devil” during our pilgrimage in 2003. It was very, very crowded, and people were everywhere going in each and every direction. Literally thousands were trying to get out at the same time as others were trying to get in. Then, it happened: my wife lost her footing and fell on me. I mustered all the strength I had to keep us from falling down.
Thank God, we did not fall, and we were saved from a certain death. Yet, on that very same day, there were other pilgrims who were not as fortunate. Unless you have been there, it is really hard to imagine how many people are at the Hajj. The pictures simply do not do it justice.
Although authorities are still investigating the cause, I can totally understand how a stampede can occur. Only one person has to panic to cause a devastating chain reaction. It is actually a blessing that a major stampede does not occur every year. Yet, sadly, these sort of things do occur, and my heart and prayers go out to the families of the victims who are now dealing with the terrible pain of the loss of their loved ones.
Although I do understand that it is very difficult, if not totally impossible, to totally control a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people all converging on one place, I also do agree with some of the criticism that authorities should do more to protect the crowds…