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KaaBa,The most sacred sight in Islam, situatede within the great mosque at Mecca, the sacred black stone, set into the E corner of its walls. The stone, is the focus-point to Which Muslims turn when they pray. Mecca – Kaaba- Saudi Arabia .1959

OUR PILGRIMAGE TOWARD MECCA

We are entering the oil rich Kuwait-a small Sheikhdom about the size of Luxemburg. Kuwait enjoys about U.S. $600,000,000 annually from oil revenues and the main problem facing each Sheikh is how to spend his income. Kuwait collects almost no tax and spends ten times mire per capita than any other nation in the world for public services and medical care and education. It has been transformed by oil from a barren land of mud huts into a booming oasis of commerce.

Lord Myners said that during the weekend of the bail-out, he did not meet RBS chairman Sir Tom McKillop and the senior independent director Bob Scott until the evening of 11 October - the day after it was agreed that Sir Fred would leave the bank.

At the talks, in which he was accompanied by a lawyer acting for the Treasury, he said he had used a "standard script" to set out the government's position.

Most of it goes on expanding their Harems and buying big American cars. Having only recently jumped from the back of their camels into their Cadillac. so to speak, they are ignorant about the working of a car. If it ran out of petrol these sheikhs are inclined to take one look at the engine, considering it has burnt itself out, and abandon the machine at the side and buy even a more advance model. New office buildings stand empty, new roads trail off in the desert with no place to go. The sun-seared stretch of land jutting into the Persian Gulf has 250,000 populations, most of whom have nothing to do except counting their bank notes, they do not approve of depositing the money in bank and often pile them under their mattress. What delights these people most is hunting for bustards with falcons it is thrilling o watch how falcons chase and catch the bustards, each falcons has its own special owner and refuse to hunt foe anyone else.

Moving on to Saudi Arabia we went toward Riyadh, the capital city of this vast desert Kingdom, near the city we happened to meet few Italian engineers who were engaged on road construction, first thing they said with utter sadness was: “In this damn country it is six months since we have not seen the face of a woman, and to hell with high salaries

“ We told them that we sympathies with you and really know what you mean. Here in Riyadh the old buildings clash with the newly built palaces as the oil revenue pours into the country.

Passing palace after palace makes the eyes blur, some of them burn more electricity than Monaco. It was Friday and the Muslim’s Sabbath, so, the next day we contacted the king Saud brand new university; a party was held in our honor and afterward we showed a film on explorations of the Amazon Basin, over 600 students attended.

Much of RED TAPES had to be solved before projecting the films and finally success favored us because we told them it is not foe other reason than for education. The public film show in Saudi Arabia is completely prohibited, because this is the only country in the East that ignores the modern laws and fudge accordance to the Koran laws. After the film was over the students who are striving to learn what goes on out of Arabia, shook our hands in the mist welcoming manner; one of them told us that our film shoe broke the barriers and paved the way, while another student said: “Of -course each Prince has a private theatre and thy see the latest Parisian striptease”, however we can be sure that our film show was the first attempt in the history of Saudi Arabia.

DINNER WITH THE MONARCH

According to the invitation we waited in our residence till a Cadillac-one of several hundreds in the palace garage, called for us. We drove along the fine asphalt road to the palace, so many flowers and vegetables decorated the garden that hardly could we imagine the fact hat we are in the middle of a desert. All the money that pours into this country as royalty from American-Arabian Oil co.

Is spent within the palace walls, with this income King Ibn Saud wields life and death over his poverty striken subjects and indulges every whim he and his 335 royal brothers, sons, cousins and nephews can dream up.

Dinner was served in a vast hall hanged with teardrop chandeliers of most expensive crystal, its walls and floors covered with rich carpets. One side of the air conditioned room bordered a courtyard lusters with ornamental gardens and sparkling fountains. Fifty of us sat at the table, mostly Princes who make cabinet members. As a special honor, we were sitting shoulder with shoulder of the King. The King himself lolled in a high backed chair.

The Arabs are known for their hospitality; sometimes they went too far out of their way to be nice to us. Being just two ordinary person with no official ranks, honestly we felt quit flattered at the Royal banquet. To be even more hospitable each one of them threw in our plates the best pieces of their mutton. At last our plates were loaded with best meat, thanks Allah that they did not give us the sheep’s eyes.

The meal lasted hour and a half, food was carried by troops of slav some received as gifts from his noble-men and some are purchased. Most of Saud food is flown in regularly from the U.S.A., Italy and Lebanon in order to satisfy the Royal whim, a bunch of clever contractors are making good fortune on it. Talk hobbled through the meal, nut Saudi Arabs have little conversation at best, Saud himself has less than most. As soon as King decided to speak to us, the same crawling man came forward. He king asked our future destination, he was disturbed to hear that we are intended crossing the country to Mecca in our little car and told us we had better to forget all about it. He knew of the disappearances of many former Arab adventurers who have taken the risk for pilgrimage. However, when he king realized that we are determined to carry on the risk, he then wished us good luck and wired the various groups of His camel Corps along the way to be on the look out for us. Little then we knew how grateful we would be for his services. Then he made us clearly understood that through his protocol will convey us a present for each as a remembrance, it is he said: “Tow golden watches with my portrait depicted on it’
But unfortunately the watches never reached us

TOWARD MECCA

The next day we ventured into the “OCEAN OF SANDS”, for many experience still to come. using compass and mp we took South Westerly direction toward Yemen and then to Mecca, enroot to our amazement we saw a man walking all alone, with our limited knowledge of Arabic language we managed to ask him that where is he heading form he named one oasis and according to our charts it was roughly one hundred kilometers away, with surprise we asked him why? He answered: “Ah just to have few words with my friends and a cup of tea together

” Wholly smoke, what else can we expect in a country where they walk 200 kilometers just for having a chat; they would not need a road! Leaving him behind us marched ahead. We had sufficient petrol for 1200 kilometer as well as food and water. In the Sahara the accurate calculation often goes wrong often a bush appear like a tree toward which we drove for its shadow.

We are heading toward Mecca not only because it was in our way to Africa, but at the command of Prophet who says in Koran: “VERILU, THE FIRST HOUSE FOUNDED FOR MANKIND TO WORSHIP IN IS SURELY AT MECCA, A BLESSING AND GUIDING PLACE TO THE WORLD”.

Every Muslim is supposed to visit it once before he dies if at all possible in time for the appointed day, but since we could not have that privilege, we went off the season when it is much more quiet. In the Muslim lunar month of Dhu-L-Haja pilgrims from distant places head for Mecca, some plodding eastward under desert stars by camel from Kuwait, from the sandy wastes of Libya, from Istanbul and Mongolia. Yes indeed in the time for Haj, from every land, by every route, come driblets and droplets of humanity trickling down from distant mountains and far off ea ancient cities until over whole scope of Islam they will become like pouring streams and in Mecca these streams join to make a real tide.

Our purposes for going to Mecca was quite clear, to bring for the western world a richer scope and understanding as well as knowledge of Islam. To more than 400.000.000 Muslims, the Haj or pilgrimage has a central living significance.

After three and one half days the condition grew tense by the minutes, we felt that we are midway between nowhere. The shifting sand was too loose to drive on it, with their velvet eaves looked like an ocean and in fact we were drawn in it, all we could do was struggle for survival. The regional name “EMTY QUARTER “

“VA ALIKUM-U-SALAM” which means, we are also coming with peace” at the mention if this greeting one can trust the Bedoin, otherwise years before when killing and slaughtering raged the people, often people crossed one another from opposite direction attacked for no reason. I told the Bedoins our problem and begged them for help.

Is quite appropriate. We flat the tires and spread the chicken wire net and it proved to be mist useful. After another day or so of struggle we were lost and after some useless attempts we run out of petrol and water. There was nothing to do. But anxiety, of desperation. For almost two whole days we sat with our fears “WOILD HELP COME?” we prayed and waited.

We kept up our diary so that if we expired, at least a record remain. Exactly like four American crew of the Air force that fifteen years ago were forced to land over the Libyan desert and recently their corpses were found while pilot has been writing in his note-book in which you can see as his energy decreases. When we had almost given up the hope, we saw something is moving in the distant horizon, It was a camel caravan Issa shouted, “HAD THEY SPTTED US” by then half the car was buried under the shifting sand. While my brother stood on the roof of the car to be on the look out, I ran toward the caravan for help, but the further on I run the farther it appeared to be, the sand was too loose and I used to sink till knee, meantime the caravan also came toward me.

I thanked Allah for being from a Muslim country and that I knew the Muslim ways of greeting and rituals, otherwise it would have been more difficult to get along. I greeted them “ASSALAM-U-ALIKUM” with Arabic pronunciation.

Before they offered me help they wanted to know if I am a Muslim, so as they were illiterate I found no point in showing my passport or any other identity card, instead repeated a Koran verse which is the Muslim’s unique passport throughout the world. Then they shook my hands and hugged me in the Arab fashion. They decided to come and help us out, but the car was completely out of vision and even my own foot prints had disappeared with the shifting sands, but the caravan members who had seen me at the time I was coming toward them, were able to orient the direction and for this we had to credit their ingenuity. The Bedoins are able to feel the sand with their finger tips and predict which part of the peninsula belongs. the Bedoins are able to drink the camel’s milk and predict where the camel has been grazing.

The Arabs pulled our car from its sandy grave and with the help of their camels towed it across the desert for three days. Near one oasis we re met by a group of, the camel corps who were searching for us, alas we were safe……. Within 48 hours these fellows brought us spirit for our car, fifty liters of petrol which worth every thin, but how and where in the world they got it remained still a mystery, when we were filling our automobile tank with gas, the Bedoin murmured and said that the poor animal is very thirsty. The journey from there to Mecca was fairly uneventful, but word of our coming had preceded us and we were met at the gates of the holy city by the Mayor and other dignitaries. At this spot we had to wash our bodies and purify our souls before donning the simple white cloth which must be worn by pilgrims. A king or a beggar, a wealthy man or an ordinary clerk, A Malayan Muslim or a Russian Muslim-all and everybody were exactly looking equal, for in the House of Allah there is no distinction.

As we did not know the various rites to be observed, upon entering Mecca we went step by step behind our guide and finally we found ourselves at last before the . Great Mosque of Mecca, we entered it by the greatest door called after Ibn Saud and passed thence through the inner gate and suddenly found ourselves in a courtyard. There beyond the wide stone and marble set pavement, stood the house toward which all Muslim, the world over turn their face and hearts. The Ka’beh which is better known as BLACK STONE among the western people, is fabled to have been given by Gabriel to Abraham and which represents the direction to which Muslims always turn when praying.

Ka’beh is severely square and built by smaller stones covered by a black velvet.

A breeze filtering down from the barren hills moved the skirt of the ka’beh’s covering and let it billow and ripple in gentle folds. Traditionally we had to chant this verse “HERE AM I, O GOD, AT THY COMMAND! NO EQUAL HAST THOU, HERE AM I”

About fourteen hundred years ago the Ka’beh was a temple in which idols were worshipped by the Arabs, Allah sent a number of prophets to teach the people soon forgot the teachings of the prophets and began to worship various objects and creature of this world. So the Arab prayed to the idols they had set up in the Ka’beh, although the Ka’beh was built by the prophet Abraham, an ancestor of Mohammad, for the worship of Allah and Allah alone,

The Arabs in those days lived in tribes and tribes fought one another, they did not respect a common law and the strong man ruled the weak man, they were also very proud and did not regard all men as equal.

It was among such a people that the Prophet Mohammad was born in the year 570 A.D. He was descended from the tribes of Ghoraish, which occupied a position of dignity and honor in the whole of Arabian Peninsula. His father Abdullah had died before he was born in the year 570 A.D. He was descended from the tribes of Ghoraish, which occupied a position of dignity and honor in the whole of Arabian Peninsula. His father, Abdullah, had died before he was born.

We girdled the Ka’beh seven times and repeated whatever our guide preached, some of these Koran verses are too long and tongue-twisting and difficult to pronounce them. As the Muslim multitude when their long journey finally ends, they sit for circling Ka’beh is called TWAF, three sequence of Twaf must be accomplished during the pilgrimage, each sequence is seven round which makes person real tired. This business of circumambulation, an old custom, has a meaning of turning the thoughts of pilgrims upon the souls of own seeking the House of God.

At the time when we circumambulated Ka’beh, we had our camera equipments hidden beneath our white garment. As we girdled around, the cameras crashed and produced jangling sound which drew the guide’s attention. As no one is allowed to bring in any material thing to the house of Allah, the guide asked that what makes the sound. In our broken Arabic language told him that: recently we have been operated and the doctors must have installed a metallic intestine. Our mission for filming Mecca was fulfilled through a local person, luckily. His Highness the Khalifa of Mecca had sent a very handsome Cairo graduate with some years of training in England and was needed by everybody for his practice in medicine. Josef with modern ideas could not tolerate his country men and he promised to help us in the most hair-raising task for filming the sacred places, only through his popularity and influence we accomplished add we wanted.

Till our visit the Mecca, it was for the first time in the history of Saudi-Arabia that, we ventured in the most hair-raising to make such a documentary film on Mecca: The most sacred place for the Muslim. Although was not the season of pilgrimage, faithful could be seen from many lands, some chanting, some weeping, some struck dumb in contemplation of this at their front, “THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD”. After the Twaf round the Black Stone the professional men who sell water brought forward their merchandise of pure water, in this country the water has quench the thirst for it is sacred and pilgrims pay for it to drink the holy water inregardless of its cost.

Here in the Muslim legend, Abraham left his wife and son in the desert, rushing frantically from one spot to the other to obtain water for her son Ishmael who was dying of thirst, until the angle Gabriel led her back at last to a spring which bubbled up miraculously near the child’s feet. That same Spring Muslins believe, now feeds the well of Zamzam within the Grat Mosque. By their running seven times the pilgrims commemorate each time the mother’s anguish and amazing discovery.

It was noon and the time for prayer, we followed example of the crowd, thousand gathered before the shrine. This is the holiest city… the Imam cries. And non-Muslims are prohibited to set foot in it, though we were born in a Muslin family we did not want to risk arousing suspicion by our ignorance of the rituals, any non-Muslim caught in the area faces serous punishment.

In some way we felt great delight, because after our visit to the prohibited land of Tibet in 1956, Mecca was the only place where we did not see tourists with their cameras constantly open. Mecca widely differs from Vatican or Plaza de concord where daily bus loads of tourists make over million snapshots. If a non-Muslims ventures in this holy city, first he will be fined 6,000 Rials, secondly four years of imprisonment. In all the aviation charts, the pilots are strictly warned not to fly over the sky of non-Muslims to fly over the holy city.

We had in fact very difficult time to photograph under such fearful conditions and we are about the first people to have filmed it, most of it in secret otherwise in the protection of police. Why photography seems evil to them? It might be difficult to digest for occidental people, but here is the reason: First Mohammed banned all kind of representations of the human forms and especially sculptures; this is simple to understand because the bases of Islamic faith is contrary to the idol worshipping. Secondly in the eyes of some Muslims the appearance of a camera and the click of a snapshot is not nice in the House of Allah and will stop faithful off their solemn contemplation.

Mecca resembled the ancient cites of Samarkand and Bokhara, the waster supply is by draining from the wells and carrying it in the goat-skin for delivery as it was a thousand years age. The money changers sat behind the large piles of silver and gold coins, the souvenir shops are loaded with tapestries on which scenes of the holy shrines are depicted, though these tapestries are the products of Japan or Italy, yet faithful but them in dozens for their anxious relatives back home. Five times every day Muslims abandon their business far flung open and head for prayer, shops are left open because there are no danger such as robbery, all the street thieves are without hand.



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