Once again, more than 2 million Muslims have successfully managed to complete their religious obligation to perform the annual pilgrimage to Makkah. For many, it was the first time they visited the Grand Mosque for this ritual. Many were visiting it for a second time. Countless among these 2 million, however, were people who have performed this ritual a multitude of times, yet they still find it justified to spend huge amounts of money on traveling and accommodation while that money could be used for the welfare of the poor which is something I’m sure God wouldn’t mind either.

We all have grown up learning that Hajj is only mandatory for those who can afford it. Furthermore, emphasis has been paid on how even performing Hajj just once is sufficient. Yet we boast about how we have managed to go to Hajj for the 11th consecutive year.

The world is dying of hunger. According to data from UNICEF in 2014, 159 million children are stunted; 50 million are wasted i.e. too thin for their age. It isn’t the lack of food that causes malnutrition; it is the inability to buy the food that does so. While we spend huge amounts of money to visit the House of God each year, God’s children in Africa – which isn’t too far from Saudi Arabia – die painful deaths owing to the lack of food available.

We adorn the Ka’abah with silk embroidered with gold. Thousands of people have lost their dignity to poverty for not being able to afford enough clothing to cover themselves up respectfully. God’s house gets decorated beautifully while his men cannot afford rags to cover themselves. Once again, I make reference to Africa since it is a highly poverty struck continent extremely near to Saudi Arabia, the blessed land.

We’re building skyscrapers and hotels all around the Grand Mosque to be able to accommodate even more people, yet there’s no help being provided to the countless homeless refugees who have nowhere to go to.

In an attempt to please God, we have allowed the greedy Saudi elite to exploit this weakness of the entire Muslim community. As long as the Muslim community fails to see beyond the rewards of heaven, it will not be able to think selflessly. At the moment, though, everyone is part of a selfish game where each man wants to please God by visiting his house the most, not realizing that perhaps God would want that money to go to the improvement of one of his men’s lives. Perhaps, when God finally meets his people, he will question them on how they could be so blinded by the gifts of heaven that they chose to let a fellow human die just to please God.

Of course, this is a problem that can very easily be tackled if the money making intentions of the Saudi royal family change. There can be strict checks on who gets to perform Hajj each year. Any visa applicants who have previously performed Hajj should be rejected. With such controls, not only will the Muslim community start thinking selflessly but the Saudi government will be able to preserve the historical sites that are being constantly demolished to make room for more people in Makkah and Medinah. Of course, this would mean lower revenues for the Saudi government as a result of which I do not see something of this sort happening anytime soon.

Yet another year has gone by and 2 million pilgrims have visited the Ka'abah once again. In the same year, over 2 million children will get severely affected, or will die, due to malnutrition.