News24

Gold makes glittering souvenir of Mecca

2012-10-23 20:50

Mecca - They might wear the humble white sheets required for Islam's hajj pilgrimage, but for many visitors thronging Mecca's streets, the perfect souvenir of their trip is that most glittering of commodities: gold.

For most pilgrims hajj represents the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition and many of them want to commemorate their journey with keepsakes or gifts for relatives that carry a special religious significance.

Pilgrims from smaller, less cosmopolitan places than Mecca, also find the gold jewellery to be cheaper, better quality and more elaborate than what is available at home, creating a thriving annual market for the precious metal.

"The designs are beautiful. Everything is beautiful. I am confused which ones to pick," said Ijlal Suleiman, 35, from Sudan.

But after bargaining with a gold salesman she decided to move to the next shop to sample other designs.

Dozens of gold shops lie just outside the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, and their shelves and windows sparkle with bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, lockets and chains engraved with traditional Middle Eastern and Indian designs.

Prices of unworked gold are similar to those in Dubai, a regional jewellery hub, with 24-carats going for 204 UAE dirhams ($55.54) a gram in the Emirate and 215 riyals ($57.33) in Mecca, said a shopkeeper.

Most of the jewellery is manufactured in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea port city of Jeddah from 21-carat gold, while pieces with Indian designs are imported through Dubai, said Ali Abdullah, 35, a Saudi who has been working in a gold shop in Mecca for 10 years.

Blessed

"The gold sold in Mecca is pure and not tampered with," he said. "The Saudi gold is the best in the world. Its quality is high and it's blessed. People buy gold and say this is blessed gold from Mecca."

Unlike the white gold studded with diamonds and precious stones on display in Dubai's glitzy shopping malls, gold in Mecca's markets hardly has any additions which is more attractive to customers who buy it as an investment.

"The gold here is good in terms of its weight and manufacturing," said Mohammed Idrisur Rahman, 57, a lawyer from Bangladesh, as he bought two lockets for his daughter and daughter-in-law. "It is solid gold and the price is good and it's bought from a holy place."

For distant relatives less shiny, but highly sought after gifts would suffice, Rahman said. That includes prayer beads and zamzam water, pumped from a holy well in Mecca.

However, not all pilgrims see their purchases as religious.

"I don't believe in blessing nonsense. Gold is good, it's better than buying fabrics and clothes," said Haj Namen, 47, from Iraqi Kurdistan after buying $2 450' worth of gold for his wife at home.

"If you are away from your wife for a month you have to get her some gold," said Najem, who has performed hajj consecutively for the past 12 years as part of his job as a tour operator.

Comments
  • ft.burhaak - 2012-10-23 21:33

    I am not accusing but if the shoe fits,wear it.The Prophet pbuh said in hadith that there wil come a time when muslims wil visit the Holy Land for holidays and shopping sprees, instead of spiritual reasons,which is visible today,unfortunately.iv seen muslims go with 1 suitcase and return with 10,then lie to customs,whats the point?

      ft.burhaak - 2012-10-23 22:29

      As always,its easy to thumb down the facts,since its hard to argue ur opinion.

  • ft.burhaak - 2012-10-23 21:44

    The Prophet pbuh said in hadith that a time will come when muslims will go to Mecca for holidays and shopping sprees and less for spiritual reasons.

  • ft.burhaak - 2012-10-23 22:03

    This is not to insult my fellow muslims,on an occasion my return from the far east co incided with the muslims returning from Haj.I was embarassed to see the bhaviour of pushing and shoving for their bags with haste,agression and no patience.Sorry to say but this is a far cry from the required behavior. Im a muslim,push me for ur bag,nd ul have a problem.

      ft.burhaak - 2012-10-23 23:23

      Thumb downers,pls push me 4 ur bag!

      ft.burhaak - 2012-10-23 23:46

      Not being short of wealth nor poverty,id like to tell my fellow muslims whos egos extend beyond the heavens due to their bank balances and wealth,That WEALTH does not give you the right to blieve that you are Gods chosen 1s,and nor are you entitled to be given priorities over others less fortunate then yourselves.Pls come back to mother earth.Especially in the Holy Lands,and in places of worship!

      ft.burhaak - 2012-10-24 09:16

      Please note that im not refering to al muslims,but the few wealth intoxicated 1s,which are very close to home.

  • dawood.timol - 2012-10-23 23:55

    @ ft.burhaak u seem to be a trouble maker and inciter. you're probably bored with your life.

      ft.burhaak - 2012-10-24 00:15

      Dawood Timol,people who hate the truth will always refer to it as trouble.lemme tell u im not bored,iv seen more action then u can ever dream of!

      ft.burhaak - 2012-10-24 01:41

      Dawood,You are accusing me of being bored and inciteful for narrating Hadith and Islamic etiquete,which indicates that you are suggesting that Muhammad saw was also bored and inciteful.wanaoozubillah!if u are of those whos egos xtend to the heavens,beware where u thread with that notion!

  • sisie.indola - 2012-10-24 07:25

    How much do you think the Saudi's make in that 1 month of Haj? The coffers must overflow.

  • nazeem.majiet.7 - 2012-10-24 10:02

    Agreed,Hajj is to search for our Creator and not for any other reason,Our learned scholars say that if the messenger wanted the glitter and glamour of this world ALLAH would have made the mountains of Makka into gold for the messenger SAW and it would have followed him wherever he went,the Messenger instead prayed that ALLAH must just grant him enough so the one day he would be grateful to ALLAH and the next day he could pray to ALLAH for assistance.The glitter and glamour is a deception of this world as soon it all comes to an abrupt end when we die.

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