Necessity of Practical Crisis Management Measures in Mass Pilgrimage

  May 27, 2021   Read time 2 min
Necessity of Practical Crisis Management Measures in Mass Pilgrimage
The officials of a mass pilgrimage and religious gathering are obliged to have a continuous sense of emergency and crisis. In other words, these people are expected to think of every alternative possibility that can impede the normal process of the ongoing event otherwise a slightest mismanagement can lead to a disaster.

The intensity of movement of pilgrims at a particular point is fluctuating constantly, depending on the speed and compactness of the amblers. Pilgrims who saunter individually (minority) or in groups (majority) in the early stage of the Hajj can be gauged at an average velocity of 40 m/min, but when compaction of pilgrims occurs, with the pilgrims touching each other, the free movement is blocked and the entire movement can come to a halt. If optimal mass is exceeded, the pass becomes impenetrable. If not checked, the movement in Hajj can turn to chaos.

After performing Hajj rituals from Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa, the pilgrims return to the Grand Mosque Al-Haram for Tawaf Al-ifada, which consists of seven laps around the Kaaba, which is situated in the centre of the court Mataf (area around the black cube). Three million Muslims took part in circumambulation around Kaaba in 2011. During Tawaf, the crowd comprises a homogeneous and heterogeneous set of pilgrims, changing with respect to physical capacity as well as movements.

The Grand Mosque consists of two significant zones: first, the main court Mataf (area of circumambulation); second, the zone of the sacred hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah for Sa’I, in which pilgrims walk and run between two hills seven times and cover a distance of 3.15 km approximately.

Tawaf movement is fundamentally a circular movement around the Kaaba. However, the wall of Al-Hateem, an extension of the Kaaba, can disrupt the circular movement. This interruption of the counter-clockwise Tawaf motion causes a compressed and mobbed area near Al-Hateem. This mobbing, combined with the congestion formed by the magnetism on the east side of the Kaaba, causes a high density on that side of the Kaaba, while on the other side it is less mobbed. The existing data show a medium demand level; there is congestion on the east side of the Kaaba as well as around Maqam-Ibrahim (where Prophet Ibrahim stood while building the upper walls of the Holy Kaaba). On the right side of the court is a place where pilgrims pray or perform Tawaf. Due to the heightened emotion during circumambulation, pushing is strong, which sometimes causes suffocation. In 2016, several deaths occurred in this way during Tawaf.

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