“We ask God to grant the martyrs his mercy.” —Saudi government official.
I’m sorry, but these aren’t martyrs. These 700+ people are well-intentioned but ignorant religious believers who were killed by a stampeding mob while trying to get to what they believe is the holiest of holy sites.
The Hajj Stampede is but the latest example of how vacuous and pointless it is to rely on “god’s protection” when doing things that he purportedly commanded.
I get it. Pilgrimages are important, we can learn and grow spiritually from doing them. There are many places in the world to go on pilgrimages. A friend of mine went on one in northern Spain, for example. But the situation in Mecca has gotten out of control because of the numbers of people who try to go there. It used to work when no one could get there except by walking. Now millions more have access via air travel to the region.
The worst part is knowing that the Saudi government could do something about it, but they choose not to. Far from accomplishing anything holy, these deaths only illustrate that this senseless, pointless pilgrimage really exists in the minds of the government to fill its coffers.
This is the kind of thing that must slowly, inexorably, de-convert people. If a god commanded a holy pilgrimage, surely he could at least protect his people from this kind of senseless tragedy, protect them from a corrupt government, or at least grant more wisdom to such a government so that they could prevent it from happening again.
My heart is with the families of those who died.