Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia denounce ISIS atrocities

The pilgrims denounced ISIS atrocities as a ‘virus’ threatening the world

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Pilgrims have denounced atrocities by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group as “a virus” threatening the world.

“Islam is innocent from actions of the Islamic State [of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)],” Kurdish Iraqi pilgrim Alan Abdullah said, describing ISIS as “a virus threatening the whole world.”

“ISIS militants are carrying out terrorist acts, slaughtering people and causing trouble,” said another Kurdish pilgrim, Shawkat Ahmed Qader. “Islam is far from their acts and beliefs.”

The Kurdish pilgrims are among nearly 1.4 million foreigners who have arrived in Saudi Arabia for hajj.

French pilgrim Petra, who converted to Islam and changed her name to Nour, insisted that “the Islam as I live it is not an Islam of fanaticism.”

“I think there is a desire right now to scare people away from Islam,” said Nour.

“Islam as it was lived at the time of the prophet has nothing to do with what they are making us believe today. This is really the Islam of love and companionship. It is the real Islam,” she said, inviting nods and smiles from fellow French pilgrims.

Next to her, Saffiyah, a Mexican who said she converted after the Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States, affirmed that “Islam makes us better people ... [and] jihad for me means struggling with myself” to improve.

On Monday, Islamic scholars and thinkers said that doing any harm to other pilgrims or disturbing serenity of the holy mosques and holy sites was tantamount to dishonoring the hajj rites.

Renowned Islamic scholars, jurisprudence experts, researchers, academics, writers and intellectuals from all over the world are taking part in the three-day grand annual hajj symposium titled “Glorifying the Symbols and Rites of hajj."

Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, grand mufti and head of the Council of Senior Scholars, said that glorifying hajj rites means winning Allah’s pleasure through obeying his orders and staying away from forbidden things.

This story was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.