Hajj: Is it the State’s Business?
In a country where Hindus are not allowed to register their marriages, and all non-Muslims live under constant threat of the blasphemy law, government-sponsored hajj is not an issue that takes priority. But it is certainly an issue worth looking into.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs Pakistan conducts a lucky-draw every year, from which thousands of Muslim citizens are selected. These lucky winners are sent on a state-sponsored pilgrimage, or hajj, to Saudi Arabia…
..which I personally find is a ridiculous waste of money for a country cursed with ever-present economic instability.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford it. Even from an Islamic perspective, there’s no real necessity to sponsor such expensive trips, because hajj is not even an obligation for the poor! Those who can afford the trip can pay their own way. After all, doesn’t spending your own hard, earned money on hajj make the endeavour far more noble?
You wouldn’t dream of sending a Pakistani Christian to the Vatican city for papal blessings on the government’s expense. Can you imagine a Pakistani Sikh applying for government sponsorship to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, or a Hindu asking the government for money to attend the Khumb Mela? Is it too much for the Pakistani non-Muslims to demand the same privileges that are readily offered to the Muslims?
Not to mention that this extravaganza is being funded by Muslim and non-Muslim tax-payer alike. A part of the money that I, as an Atheist, pay to the government is being spent on an Islamic event that I do not believe in, and does not benefit me in any way. In fact, it does not really benefit anyone.
I don’t need to be taxed for your religious affairs. I’m already paying enough by being discriminated against every single day by the society and the government, and I dare say, it’s sufficient.