What is hajj? Why is it done?

Today begins one of the most important events in the lives of roughly two-million of the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims: They have begun the five-day pilgrimage known as hajj.

Muslims who are physically and financially able must complete hajj at least once in their lives.

Al Jazeera offers a detailed explanation of hajj, including its daily components. (I quote it almost in full below.)

Hajj is, put simply, complex. There are several different ways of performing it, and numerous schools of Islamic thought, between which lie many scholarly differences. Here is a breakdown of the steps included in performing hajj.

Enter ihram (the sacred state)

The very first rite of Hajj is entering ihram –  a pilgrim’s sacred state – when crossing the outer boundaries of Mecca, called Miqat .

On the eighth of Dhul-Hijjah, pilgrims enter ihram, which entails wearing plain garments – two unstitched cloths for men, or loose-fitting clothing for women – as well as following certain rules, such as not giving in to anger or engaging in sexual activity.

Head to Mina, a sprawling tent city

The pilgrims then set out en masse from Mecca to the sprawling tent-city of Mina, whether by foot along pilgrim paths or by buses and cars. It is an 8 km journey.

The pilgrims will spend the day in Mina, only setting out the next morning at dawn. Most of the time in Mina is spent in prayer and remembering Allah.

Spend the day at Arafat

The Day of Arafat is considered one of the most important days, not just of Hajj, but of the Islamic calendar. Mount Mercy at Arafat was the scene of the Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon. After making the 14.4 km journey from Mina, pilgrims spend the day here in reverent prayer.

Elsewhere in the world, many Muslims choose to fast on this day.

Collect pebbles at Muzdalifah

After sunset, its time to move again, this time to Muzdalifah – a 9 km trip – where they spend the night under the stars. Many will also begin collecting pebbles here for tomorrow’s rites, departing again just before sunrise.

Throw stones at the pillars

For those performing Hajj, the day is known as yawm-ul hajj al-akbar (The big hajj day) and is probably the longest day of the pilgrimage, and the most dangerous.The 10th of Dhul-Hijjah is Eid al-Adha, a day celebrated by Muslims around the world as the greater of the two Muslim holidays.

Pilgrims start the day in Muzdalifah and begin heading back to Mina before dawn. Once in Mina, they perform the first rami, throwing seven pebbles at the largest of three columns known as Jamarat.

This act is a symbolic stoning of the devil, based on historical tradition. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, the story goes, as proof of faith. It is believed that at this spot in Mina, the devil appeared and tried to dissuade Abraham from heeding the command. Abraham responded by throwing stones to scare him off.

Millions of pilgrims converge at the Jamarat Bridge, which houses the three columns representing the devil, in order to re-enact the story. …

After casting their stones, pilgrims must perform the sacrifice. Completing the story, when Abraham went to sacrifice his son, he found God had placed a ram there to be slaughtered instead.

Pilgrims thus must slaughter a sheep, goat, cow or camel – or more likely, pay for it to be done in their names.

At this point, pilgrims trim or shave (men only) their hair and remove their ihram clothes. Many will then proceed to Mecca to perform tawaf and sa’ee, first circling the Kaaba seven times, then walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

When all is finally done, they return to their campsite in Mina.

Final days in Mina

On each day, they will again symbolically stone the devil – this time throwing seven pebbles at each of the three pillars.With the hardest part behind them, pilgrims will now spend the next two or three days in Mina.

When their time in Mina is finished, the pilgrims return to Mecca to perform the final circulation of the Kaaba, a “farewell” tawaf.

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CFL NOTES: The one CFL player currently on each team’s roster who is a certain Hall of Fame inductee

I started this conversation on Twitter during a recent CFL game: Name the one CFL player currently on each team’s roster who is a certain Hall of Fame inductee.

One player only from each team. And he would be voted in right now.

I picked first and selected quarterback Ricky Ray from Toronto. I decided that wasn’t enough, so I dove into each team’s roster to come up with one player from each club.

Here’s my list:

Hamilton: Linebacker Simoni Lawrence. A rock-solid member of the TiCats defense who can be counted on for 4-5 tackles a game while being always around the football. He’s not yet 30 years old, so he might be terrorizing opposing offenses for 5-7 more seasons.

Montreal: Defensive lineman John Bowman. He’s going to finish his career with roughly 400 tackles, 125 sacks and 30 forced fumbles. Nothing more needs to be said.

Ottawa: Linebacker Kyries Hebert. Yes, his reputation as a dirty player might turn off some voters, but Hebert is a tackling machine. He needs one more tackle to record 600 in his career, and he’s got a combined 30 interceptions and forced fumbles.

Toronto: Quarterback Ricky Ray. He’s the only quarterback to lead a team to four Grey Cup victories. End of story.

BC Lions: Defensive end Odell Willis. When his career is over, he likely will record more than 100 sacks and 30 forced fumbles. Willis coming off the end has kept opposing quarterbacks up at night for 10 years.

Calgary: Punter Rob Maver. What? A punter? Maver owns a Ph.D. in coffin-corner punts, a potent strategy for a team that consistently has a great defense. When he kicks for distance, he averages 45 yards per punt. He’s in.

Edmonton: Quarterback Kevin Glenn. I put Glenn ahead of quarterback Mike Reilly because Glenn will retire first. Not the best rationale, perhaps, but Glenn will retire with around 53,000 passing yards and 300 touchdown passes, and he’s universally considered to be a great guy.

Saskatchewan: Defensive lineman Charleston Hughes. He deserves to be in the conversation as the best defensive player to ever play in the CFL. Any questions? (Nancy Hutchinson, @nlhutchinson1) made a great point on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nlhutchinson1/status/1030631783472275456)

Winnipeg: Running back Andrew Harris. He’s on pace to rush for at least 974 yards in six of his past seven seasons. And he’s also a legitimate pass-catching threat out of the backfield. At 31, he could be a leader in blue and gold for another five years.

Your thoughts are welcomed.

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SHE sexually harassed HIM? (part 2)

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a man who says he was sexually harassed by his doctoral program adviser is taking his case to court.

Nimrod Reitman, who is now a visiting fellow at Harvard University, said that while she was his Ph.D. adviser, Ronell “repeatedly and forcefully” kissed, touched, and groped him. He said that he had been forced to schedule his life around her and that she had punished him when he wasn’t affectionate enough toward her.

“For more than three years while a student at NYU, Reitman was subjected to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking by his Ph.D. academic adviser, Ronell, which devastated him and caused serious damage that he will likely suffer for years to come,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court, a trial-level court.

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A Republican uprising against Trump? Good luck with that.

You are a Republican worried about the condition of your party. You want to put the brakes on the disastrous Donald Trump. You want to return your party to the days when it was respected.

You are fighting a losing battle.

The New Yorker offers the latest evidence.

Trump’s iron grip on the G.O.P. had just got even tighter, and that the @RealDonaldTrump Twitter account is now the single most important force in Republican politics. Across the country, Republican candidates angle for an endorsement from it and quake at the prospect of getting on its wrong side.

Trump’s acolytes were successful in several key primary races earlier this week, offering a stern reminder to Republicans, whether they support Trump is irrelevant at the moment, and Democrats that beating this man in 2020 is not a certainty.

Despite his zero morality and ethics and despite moving America toward authoritarianism and home and unilateralism on the international scene, Trump retains strong support on the right.

Betting against him in 2016 proved to be fool’s gold; betting against him in 2020 would be equally foolish. He might just win re-election.

Posted in America, conservatives, corruption, credibility, ethics | Leave a comment

SHE sexually harassed HIM? And now the sparks are flying.

Photo: Anthony Moretti, 27May2017

The Chronicle of Higher Education has the details.

Here, they argued, was a case of feminist hypocrisy: a female scholar, influential in her field, whose sexually charged behavior with her student, 30 years her junior, was spelled out in cringeworthy detail in a leaked Title IX report. A set of allies, many associated with feminist theory, who had drafted a letter in her defense that questioned the motives of her accuser. A woman found responsible for verbally and physically harassing a graduate student advisee over three years being held up in that letter as beyond reproach.

But as details of Ronell’s relationship with her advisee, Nimrod Reitman, emerged this week, some pushed back against the narrative that feminist scholars were circling the wagons to protect one of their own.


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Carnegie Mellon faculty, ages 80 and 75, drop scathing resignation note

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the details.

Lenore and Manuel Blum — both longtime professors of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University — have submitted their resignations. …

“So we are resigning. We are not retiring, we are resigning,” she wrote. “No parties please.”

Posted in Carnegie Mellon University, colleges and universities, faculty, higher education | Leave a comment

Omarosa: The flavor of the week

The list of men and women trying to reform their image after working for the Trump administration continues. Either they desperately want the public to forgive them for working for Trump or they remain charlatans and want to cash in on their lack of scruples.

Take your pick: Sean Spicer. Rex Tillerson. Anthony Scaramucci. Omarosa.

Each knew then they were working for one of the most dishonest, immoral and misogynistic men to ever occupy the White House. Now no longer working for Trump, they are hustling books or other opportunities to make a buck.

Omarosa is the latest.

Sadly, the mainstream media will continue to rush interviews with this fraud to the air. Each network will tout that her “compelling” or “important” or “insider” story demands the public’s attention.


Trump has fueled her fire by doing what he does best: mock people. In recent days, he’s referred to her as a “lowlife” and “that dog.” While I have zero regard for Omarosa, I will not stand for the President of the United States once again demonstrating his misogynistic and racist attitudes.

Omarosa has no credibility.

The media ought to ignore her. But much like she and others couldn’t turn down the chance to fly too close to the Trump flame, the media cannot resist the flame of celebrity, of the name, of the vacuous nature of fame.

Everyone is wrong in this situation.

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