Five Pillars Week: Pilgrimage Open Phones

Friday, July 19, 2013

Images of Mecca and Medina, Dala 'il al-Khayrat (Proofs of Good Deeds)" Jazuli, Istanbul (?) Ottoman Empire, AH 1207 (1792 CE) (Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library)

It's Five Pillars of Islam week on The Brian Lehrer Show. Every day this week, we're hosting an interfaith conversation based around the Five Pillars: Shahadah (faith), Salat (prayer), Sawm (Ramadan), Zakat (charity) and Hajj (pilgrimage). Today: we open the phones to discuss faith and pilgrimage as part of your religious practice. Call 212-433-9692 or post a comment here

Comments [17]

Addendum to my previous post:
Unfortunately, while I have a great deal of respect for Chomsky's intellect and scholarship, there are at least some areas where I have not found him to be above doctrinaire, simplistic and reflexive thinking himself. Particularly, when it comes to certain highly-charged cultural and social issues on which there is virtually unanimous consensus on the left. Were Chomsky to dare to dissent from this orthodoxy, he would no doubt face considerable backlash and lose much of the respect and admiration (often almost cult-like) that he has so long enjoyed. I am rather convinced that an awareness (albeit likely a subconscious one) of this reality prevents Chomsky from approaching and dealing with the areas in question with the incisiveness, scrutiny and independence that characterize so much of his work. Particulary ironic in light of how cogently Chomsky speaks of the ways in which thought and opinion are controlled in free societies.

Jul. 19 2013 07:51 PM

To all of the reflexive, doctrinaire* /anti/-Religious types who seem to take glee at making simplistic, reflexive, blanket, unqualified condemnations of religion much like a child takes glee, upon learning a taboo word, in using it as much as possible:

As I've noted in a past post, Noam Chomsky is one individual who is no less atheist than any of you but who has a far more intelligent, mature, sophisticated (and, in many cases, polite) view of and approach toward religion than any of you.

Here is a quote from Chomsky, from the transcript of a 1995 America On Line chat:

"I think religion has often played a very positive role. Take western civilization, the Catholic Church has played an honorable role in helping those in need. In contrast, the US carried out a virtual war against the church in central America in the 1980's primarily because prime elements in the church were working with great courage and honor to help those in need. And to organize them to help themselves. It is more than symbolic that the decade opened with the assassination of an archbishop and ended with the murder of 6 Jesuit intellectuals, in both cases by military forces armed and trained by the US government. [...]"

More at:

*Yes, you are no less doctrinaire and reflexive in /your/ views-- at least when it comes to religion-- than even the most doctrinaire, reflexive, fundamentalist religious adherents. That is the great irony that never ceases to amuse me about you types. (Thinking of you "dboy", and you, "Bob from Brooklyn"...)

Jul. 19 2013 07:12 PM

To segue my previous post into the role of pilgrimage in Judaism:

While the Holy Temple stood and remained functional, every Jew was obligated to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year (on the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuous (commemeration of receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai, occurs around June) and Succos ("Tabernacles", occurs at the beginning of autumn).

With the destruction of the Temple, however, the commandment concerning pilgrimage ceased to be in effect and can only resume when the Temple will be re-built, which, in turn, can only occur after our redemption by the Messiah).

/Zionists/ claim that visiting, and, certainly, living in, the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) is still at least a "mitzvah"[1], and more than a few claim it is actually an /obligation/[1].

But this is not supported by the consensus of Rabbinic opinion, which holds that there is no /obligation/[1], in our time, to visit or live in the Holy Land. As to whether one who does so would even be fulfilling a positive commandment[1], rabbinical opinion is divided.

It must be noted that in addition to the obvious /physical/ dangers that the Zionist rule over the Holy Land has created for its inhabitants, there are a number of /spiritual/ ones as well. On the other hand, the observant Jewish communities in the Holy Land are known for being more spiritual and devout and less materialistic, as a rule, than similar communities outside of the Holy Land.

In truth, dwelling in Eretz Yisrael was never a simple matter from a spiritual perspective. For we are taught that in the Holy Land, the impact of both righteous, /as well as wicked/ deeds are greater than they are outside of it.

[1] A "mitzvah" is a commandment in Judaism. Some are obligatory but others are not, i.e., one fulfills a positive obligation if one performs them but there is no actual, absolute /obligation/ to do so.

Jul. 19 2013 04:05 PM

To "David from Fairfield, CT" (09:42 AM), "mo83" (12:45 PM) and anyone else with a similar reaction:

As an earlier poster ("Andy", 10:58 AM) wrote,
"you may wish to reread the segment description."

Indeed. Here are the relevant parts (highlighting mine):

"Every day this week, we're hosting an **interfaith** conversation based around the Five Pillars:[...] Today: we open the phones to discuss faith and pilgrimage as part of *YOUR religious practice*."

Another thing:

Every year around this time, Jews observe a three-week period of mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans and the long and bitter exile that ensued and from which we continue to pray to be redeemed from. This period begins on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of 'Tammuz', observed as a fast day, and culminates with the fast of "Tisha b'Av", which this year fell on this past Tuesday.

On Tisha b'Av we also lament all of the tragedies that have befallen us, as a people and mourn and honor the many Jews throughout the centuries who have been persecuted and slaughtered.

Has there been /any/ mention of this annual Judaic observance on WNYC?

Jul. 19 2013 03:04 PM

We are talking about ramadan and Haj and there were only 2 muslim callers and but 2 or more Jewish and other religion. This is Ramadan season so why not give oppurtunity to talk to Islam more, Christians will get chance on Christmas time and Jews will get chance on their special days. I just felt like in all last five dats, everyone was competing to talk about their religion over Islam.

Jul. 19 2013 12:45 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Malcolm X, highlighted in the video accompanying this article, was shot to death in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights by a death squad sent by the Nation of Islam.

Jul. 19 2013 12:28 PM
Seektruth Notideology from NYC.

I love the way that WNYC's focus on Ramadan and Islam completely IGNORES the suicide bombings and sectarian violence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon because it falls outside their official narrative.

Why not talk about how the "five pillars" relate to the actual intolerance and violence in the Muslim world??

Jul. 19 2013 11:53 AM
Charlotte from Brooklyn

I have made many trips that I consider pilgrimages to architectural sites or artworks: Bruges, Ghent, Ronchamp (Le Corbusier), Vezelay, Moissac....., a tour of the new Ministry of Finance building in Paris that was as awe-inspiring as any church. I always try to take a moment to kneel down in these venues and thank the God/the gods that such beautiful objects exist.

Jul. 19 2013 11:02 AM

I love how many people are calling in who are "not religious". Finally we are seeing some intelligent people who may be owning up to the fact that they think religion is myth. Finally we are seeing more people willing to say out loud that they don't believe in ghosts. I love it so much!

Jul. 19 2013 10:59 AM

David, you may wish to reread the segment description.

Jul. 19 2013 10:58 AM
Nick from UWS

Everyone drinking from the same cup, eating from the same food? Jeez, the mass outbreaks of diarrhea must be fierce.

Jul. 19 2013 10:56 AM
John A

St Marys Cathedral, the new cathedral, San Francisco, while I was working in Silicon Valley and nonobservant. It was modern almost to the point of including some of the motifs from a famous science fiction series, but in lightness, not dark. A great sweep upward to the sky. Brought me inspiration.

Jul. 19 2013 10:55 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Since Mecca in Saudi Arabia is a Muslims Only city - Mecca is an Apartheid city.

You can see pictures of road signs which document this.

Google Images "mecca muslims only"

If only hypocritical "Peace activists" would target this segregation the world would be a better place.

Jul. 19 2013 10:08 AM
David from Fairfield CT

I thought the proposed discussion was about the pillars of Islam and Muslim pilgrimage to be specific. Why all these postings on catholicism and Judaism? Shouldn't some of you people wait until your turn rolls around again, mainly during Christamas and Easter, and keep the discussion topic specific.

Jul. 19 2013 09:42 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I'd love to see Medina too, unfortunately -


"There is virtually no Jewish activity in Saudi Arabia in the beginning of the 21st century. Jewish (as well as Christian and other non-Muslim) religious services are prohibited from being held on Saudi Arabian soil.[12] When American military personnel were stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, permission for small Christian worship services was eventually granted, but Jewish services were only permitted on US warships.[12] Census data does not identify any Jews as residing within Saudi Arabian territory.[13]

Persons with an Israeli government stamp in their passport or who are openly Jewish are generally not permitted into the Kingdom. In the 1970s, foreigners wishing to work in the kingdom had to sign an affidavit stating that they were not Jewish[14] and official government forms granting foreigners permission to enter or exit the country, do ask for religious affiliation."

Jul. 19 2013 09:29 AM

I have wanted to do the pilgrimage to Mecca for years. I'm an avid traveler, a documentary filmmaker and someone who enjoys studying other cultures but I am not a Muslim, so I'm guessing this is one cultural/religious event I will not be able to experience.

Jul. 19 2013 09:23 AM
Ed from Larchmont

In Catholicism pilgrimage has a long history. In the early centuries they were a form of penance, and they have indulgences attached to them. Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago, Canterbury, etc., and the many shrines of Our Lady - Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, Our Lady of Walsingham, etc., etc.

In New York the largest pilgrimage shrine is in Auriesville, NY, which marks where three Jesuits were martyred by the Indians they were serving (more than three?). Saint Kateri, an Indian woman, named a saint this past year, lived for a time with the Jesuits before going to Canada. There are others, for example Rosa Mystica near Syracuse.

Right now there is a pilgrimage going on to Buenos Aires, World Youth Day, this week. A million plus young people will be there to greet the pope.

Jul. 19 2013 09:06 AM

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