About a week ago, I took a taxi ride with a driver named Ali. I correctly assumed that he was a Muslim, so I mentioned my "friend", Dave, who is a Muslim. I told Ali all about how observant Dave is in his religion, and that he practices four of the five pillars of Islam, but he won't go to Mecca.
I told Ali that my understanding, based on a remembrance of a letter Dave wrote to me once, is that Dave won't go to Mecca because he doesn't believe it is safe for a white Westerner to go there alone. Ali told me that he tries to go every other year, if he can afford it, and that he is always surprised by how varied are the colors and nationalities of the people making the pilgrimage.
And then, Ali gave me his cell phone number and told me to give it to Dave, in case he should like to ask him about his Mecca experience/s. So, dutifully, I called Dave and left him a message about this, along with Ali's phone number. As usual, no intended good deed goes unpunished, so I got a phone call later that day, July 14, from Dave, telling me I had it all wrong and that he was going to call back with a message for Ali that he wanted to leave on my voicemail. And, he asked me to transcribe the message and post it here at AMOC. So, without further ado:
First Voice Message:
Hello, Ali. I'm afraid Jeff Seiler has misrepresented me, not intentionally, I'm sure, but by accident. Um, I have no concern about making a haj to Mecca because of personal safety concerns (chuckles). Mecca is probably the safest city on the planet particularly during the haj, when you take into account the fact that Sunnis and Shiites and Sufis, and all different shades and stripes of Muslims have been performing the haj, as far as I know, without any serious conflict for generations and generations and generations. I mean, people get trampled if somebody gets spooked and everybody runs the wrong way at the wrong time, but that's a very different thing from actual conflict. So I didn't want you to think that I thought that I wouldn’t be safe in Mecca because I'm white or because I'm Canadian, or anything like that.
However, I do give equal weight to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And, as far as I know, I did hear that Jews are not allowed into Mecca, and that it also causes a problem to get into Saudi Arabia is you have an Israeli visiting stamp in your passport. And, at one point, I thought, well I do think, as someone who gives equal weight to all three faiths, I should probably go to Israel after making the pilgrimage to Mecca so I don't have an Israeli stamp in my passport. But then, the Jewish side of my nature or the part of my nature that adheres to Judaism thought, no, that’s unconscionable, that's hypocrisy for me to try and pretend or try and structure it so that it doesn't look like I have very, very strong Jewish sympathy, which I do. So, that's really been the deciding factor. In good conscience as a mono-theist, I realized that the House of Saud does not believe that non-Muslims should be allowed into Mecca. And, uh, I don’t tend to agree with that.I mean the fact that there is a reference to "the standing place of Abraham" in the Grand Mosque. You know, Judaism is descended from Abraham just the same way that Islam is. It’s just descended through Isaac instead of Ishmael. And I know that Ishmael and Abraham purified the Grand Mosque.Second Voice Message:Hello, Ali, um, I apologize for the length of this message and what I see as the necessity of this message, but obviously on the 27th day of Ramadan, when something like this comes up, I do like to clarify what the actual situation is that I'm in. I really don't like any situation where it makes me sound as if I don't know anything about Islam or I don't know about Mecca or I don't know that it is a very safe city for the people making the pilgrimage, I definitely envy you having been there as many times as you have. And definitely, if the situation changes, if God enters in upon his work and makes a change in this while I'm still alive (I'm 60 years old now), I will definitely be absolutely over the moon with the idea of being able to visit the central location in monotheism.And, I appreciate your being interested enough to give Jeff Seiler your cell phone number and being willing to talk about this. But I thought it would be better if I clarified this not only just for you but also for Jeff. So, I'm hoping he’ll be storing these messages and hopefully transcribing them or putting them on the fan-site devoted to my work. A lot of people really don’t get what it is that I’m talking about and that I’m doing. I am a monotheist; I haven't converted to Islam. I give equal weight to Judaism and Christianity and Islam. I just can't bring myself to let go of any one of them in favor of any one of the other two or picking out one of them. We'll see what God thinks of that on judgment day or I will anyway. Thanks again very much for your interest.