We Snuck a Camera into Mecca to Film Hajj: The World’s Largest Pilgrimage

SUROOSH ALVI: And this is about
as quiet as it gets. Hajj is the largest annual
pilgrimage in the world. It happens in Mecca,
Saudi Arabia. And for Muslims, it’s a
requirement that you have to do once in your lifetime. The Saudi government estimated
that last year there were over 3 million pilgrims who attended,
but the unofficial number is much higher. My parents are originally
from Lahore, Pakistan. They’re practicing Muslims, and
last year they decided it was time for them
to perform Hajj. So I went with them to help them
with their journey, but also for myself as well. It was the first time
for all of us. And I didn’t go thinking I
was going to make a VBS documentary. I just took the smallest
handicam we had the office and literally shot from the hip. You’re not allowed to shoot in
most of the holy places. So this is the footage I
managed to sneak out. We flew on Saudi Arabian
airlines. It was about a 10 hour flight
from JFK to Medina, where we spent 6 days getting mentally
prepared for the Hajj that we were about to embark on. In pre-Islamic times, Medina
was a place where the travelers who were crossing the
desert in camel caravans would come to rest. It was kind of like
a desert oasis. In modern times it’s kind of the
same thing, but there are less camels and more shopping
malls and hotels. There’s also stunning mosque
there called the Prophet’s Mosque, which is the
second-holiest site in Islam. When you’re there, you basically
just go to the mosque five times a day, for six
days straight, to get into a meditative state. The mosque is huge. It holds almost 700,000
people. And when we were there for
the Friday prayer, it was pretty much full. Flying to Mecca from Medina
was really interesting. Before we went to the airport,
we cleansed ourselves in a very specific way. And then we had to put on a
white seamless garment made our of terrycloth that all the
pilgrims have to wear. And it’s a renunciation of the
life that you come from and is supposed to put everyone
on the same level. There is no upper class
or lower class. Everyone’s the same. It’s just you and the sheet,
and that’s it. [PRAYING] This is called getting into
a state of Irham. Besides the clothes, there
are a lot of other rules. You can’t smoke. You can’t have sex. You can’t shave. You can’t cut your nails,
and there are a bunch of other no-no’s. So we got this charter, just
for the pilgrims, and 10 minutes after the plane took off
from Medina, the captain announced that we’d flown over
a designation, and we were in the zone near Mecca. And we all had to start
saying a prayer. And our group guide got onto the
loudspeaker system of the airplane and started
yelling the prayer. Everyone started chanting it. And I had a moment where I
looked around and saw all of these men and women in their
white robes, the men with their beards, and just thought,
if someone from the West could see us right now,
they would think we were a bunch of fanatical Jihadis
on some kind of an insane mission, when in reality, it was
just pilgrims excited to go on this spiritual quest. I think what was most odd about
this flight were the flight attendants, who were all
Filipino, wearing their normal Saudi flight attendant
outfits, looking like they would rather have any
other gig in the world than this one. We landed in Jeddah and
took a bus into Mecca. And that ride into the city was
one of the wilder scenes I’ve ever seen in my life. There were all these pilgrims
coming from all directions in all kinds of vehicles. And you see them riding
on the tops of cars, and vans, and buses. I remember seeing a pilgrim
jumping from the roof of one bus to another. Everybody’s just trying
to get to the city. Mecca is not a very big city. And during the year, it’s a
relatively mellow place, except during the
week of Hajj. The city completely transforms
and half the challenge of completing your Hajj is getting
all these rituals done in a very strict timeline,
dealing with the fact there are about three million other
people there who try to do the exact same thing at
the same time. After we checked into our
hotel in Mecca we walked towards the Grand Mosque,
which is also known as Masjid Al-Haram. It’s the holiest
place in Islam. And it’s a massive structure. This Moscow can hold upwards
of four million people with its outdoor and indoor space,
which, during Hajj, is technically the largest
gathering of people in the world at any given time. This mosque is what Muslims
pray towards from all over the world. And as you’re walking towards
it, you feel the anticipation build. People have been waiting
their whole lives to come to this place. And once you enter the mosque,
then you see the Kabeh. The Kabeh is a black
box in the center of the Grand Mosque. And it was built
around 2000 BC. And people have been praying
towards it since before Islam started. And when Prophet Muhammad
finally showed up, he cleaned up the place, got rid of all the
idols that the pagans had been worshipping, and reordained
the building as the House of God. So in the Grand Mosque, we had
to do our first ritual, which is called the Tawaf, which
is basically doing seven counterclockwise laps
around the Kabeh. And it’s kind of like being in
a mosh pit with hundreds of thousands of people, but instead
of it being full of angry young punk kids, we were
up against aggressive Bangladeshi grandmothers. I had my parents on each arm
interlocked, and we held each other as we went around the
structure seven times. You’re staring at the Kabeh. It’s a very intense
and heavy vibe. But the one thing that’s a total
bummer is you look up and all you see are these
massive, luxury five-star hotels for the super-rich
Muslims who want to pray from the confines of their room. After running around the Kabeh
seven times you have to do a bunch of other rituals in order
to complete your Hajj. You have five days
to get it done. And it’s kind of like being
on a scavenger hunt. You have a checklist. You have to be smart. And you have to use strategy in
order to make this happen on schedule. You have to do the Sa’i, which
is walking and running back and forth between two hills. Back in the day he used to be
outdoors and now it’s been turned into indoor structure
with two very, very long corridors. You have to spend a day
at Mount Arafat. It’s where the Prophet
delivered his last sermon from. And you spend the day in prayer,
and contemplation, and beg for forgiveness for
all of your sins. It’s a very important day,
and, after spending the majority of it in a tent, I
walked out and went in the direction of the mountain. And I walked through this wild
scene with people everywhere camped out with their animals. And as I got closer to mount
Arafat, it was such an incredible sight because
it had been completely transformed. It looked like a snow-covered
peak. Our tour group operators, before
we went on this trip, gave us some guidelines. And the last point on the
sheet said, be patient. Be very patient. Be very, very patient. I fully grasped the meaning of
this when we had to take a three-kilometer bus ride,
and it ended up taking eight hours. It was the middle of the night,
and we had to collect stones, it was one of our
rituals, in a place called [INAUDIBLE]. And so we got off the bus. We navigated our way around
sleeping bodies all over the ground, found the stones. And then it was time to pray,
and so we just threw the prayer rugs down on
the side of the highway and hit the mats. After picking up the stones,
we got back on the bus and drove to Mina. The Valley of Mina is where
the majority of the pilgrims stay. It’s a tent city that fills
up with, essentially, the population of Seattle for a
week and then, after Hajj ends, it clears out again
and goes away. It’s tents as far as
the eye can see. [SINGING IN PRAYER] From [INAUDIBLE] we arrived in Mina, and that’s
where we had to stone Satan. That’s the next ritual. And this one was actually
a lot of fun. You had to throw 21 stones,
seven at three separate Satan-stoning stations. And I finally got to see
what Satan looks like. Up until a couple years ago,
Satan looked like three big pillars sticking out
of a large pit. But the space wasn’t big
enough, and there was a stampede and people died. So the Saudi government, they
built three ramps the size of a multi-lane highway, and
there were three pillars inside of it that represent
the devil. They’re lit in shades
of green. And there’s a strange rumbling
loud sound coming out of them. And as my dad pointed out, the
whole thing made Satan look quite surreal. Before we finished the Hajj, we
had to repeat some of the rituals that we’d
already done. So we had to revisit Satan,
throw rocks at him two more times. We had to go back to back to
Mecca from Mina and do another seven counterclockwise laps. And then it was time for Eid,
which marks the official end of Hajj, which is a
big celebration. It’s the end of the state of
Irham that we’ve been in. And we slaughter an animal
to celebrate it. And then the last thing you
do is you shave your head. This is the line for
the barber shop. This is the line. Soon, they will all be bald,
all of these men. The barber shops in Mecca
have these massive lines outside of them. And you see hundreds of
thousands of baldos walking around town. And those people have
all succeeded in completing their Hajj. And they’re called Hajjis. Dealing with the Hajj every
year is a huge logistical challenge for the Saudi
government– to the point where they’ve
actually set up a Ministry of Hajj. In the past, there have been
incidents where pilgrims were trampled, when ramps collapsed
and pilgrims died, and the Saudi government has invested
billions of dollars to create an infrastructure to make this
work, with complex crowd control techniques. And what I saw when I went last
year was something that somehow manages to work. But it kind of goes without
saying that bringing 3 million people into such a small place
is going to bring up some complications. There’s a bit of a dark side. This many people in such
a small place, it really gets unwieldy. And despite the Saudi
government’s best efforts to deal with this profound
logistical challenge, the bottom line is that there
are too many people. And people need things. They need places to sleep. They need food. The need toilets. And the poor people who were
there, you see them basically camped out on the side of the
road for days on end. It really felt like Mecca was
maxing out by the end of Hajj. And the whole scene starts
looking and feeling rather apocalyptic. No matter where all these
people come from. No matter what they do. And no matter how rich or poor
they might be, during this pilgrimage to Mecca it
felt like everyone was just the same. It was unlike any place I’ve
ever been and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was there standing amongst
millions of people, I was there with my family, but, on
some level, I felt like I all alone, on a personal trek. And everyday life felt like it
was hundreds of thousands of miles away. We flew back to New York. We landed in the morning, and
I went straight back to the Vice offices, which
may not have been the wisests of ideas. I felt like I’d been catapulted
from one end of the universe to the other.

100 Replies to “We Snuck a Camera into Mecca to Film Hajj: The World’s Largest Pilgrimage”

  1. Hang on a minute, how are all these millions of muslims filming etc freely? And why is it live broadcasted? Serious doubts at what this guys agenda is!!

  2. The biggest gathering of Humans on the planet is the Hindu Kumbh Mela in India .2013 attracted 120 million and 30 million on a single day.

  3. Pagan ritual. Go worship your black Rock and do what the Zoroastrians did before Mohammed stole it from them. Muslims are so lost. I pray for all of you.

  4. What did he say, he had to fight with the aggressive Bangladeshi Grandparents? He is just saying that because he is from Pakistan.

  5. Wow …How people are worshipping the devil…Going around blinded ,to something is pegan ….THE ONLY TRUE GOD IS JESUS CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND EARTH …WAKE UP PEOPLE AND STAY AWAY FROM IDOLS


  7. !+! A cryptoTALMUDic Supremacist money making scheme for the aggrandization of the covertly Satanic MI$NAH's "jewish" COMMUNAL FUND of eternally godless Babylon!+!

  8. I watched this and i am crying now with joy , it moved me in a way ive not been moved before , the site of all them people giving up there lives to Allah and being reborn a new , it moved me thank you ,im a white English guy from london , and this was wonder full thank you , when i feel down i will watch this ,x


  10. Moslems" should be Thankful to the Catholic Religion which brought this religion too them" Their very ungrateful, they should have big PICTURE'S of POPE FRANCIS our Supreme leader hanging every where"

  11. 3 km bus ride in 8 hours????
    You should have walked then….oh sorry you are a Muslim you don't have brain…you only do what is written in the book

  12. If you dont know what you are talking about than keep it shut as more than half of what came out your mouth is wrong, stop misleading people and coming to your own conclusions.

  13. Funny we let them come to the Vatican or all our Holy sites, morning noon or night ..yet we are forbidden to see this or visit if not Muslim.?

  14. Oh I love it .He said "He feels like hes on Mars,right now.." but No Brotha' yu on Planet Earth!!! This is What it is.. masha Allahukan Wa Ma Lam yasha lam yakun!"😉🤗

  15. That's not disrespectful to religious practices or freedom??? But as long as it's in the name of "science" it's all good right?

  16. Am not Muslim. But looking at the video and seeing so many people, I would be scared to go there. I am not use to crowdy places. I can see why its a perilous journey.

  17. Claims to be the religion of peace, love and understanding yet won't let non-Muslims visit or practice any other religion in Mecca?

  18. The massive 5 star hotels around the kaaba represent the corruption of Saudi, strong ally of Israel. Otherwise, Islam is the truth, the way and light for humanity.

    Every ideology wishes it has a simple declaration of faith like the syahadah.

    Every movement wishes it has the annual fasting which trains austerity and spirituality

    Every party wishes it has the pilgrimage which enlightens and enriches the individual

    Every organisation wishes it has the 5 daily prayers which re enforces and strengthen faith

    Every ideology wishes it has complete constitution which is easily memorised/absorbed spiritually like the Quran.

    Every community wishes it has a Kaaba a symbol of unity

    Every religion wishes it has a leader like Muhammad s.a.a.w

    Every nation wishes it has a system of guardianship like Imamah.

    May Allah s.w.t hasten the reappearance of Imam al Mahdi a.s who will unite mankind under one Lord and resist all evils and corruptions.

  19. You are not suppose to shoot from holy places? Who said that, this is not true. There are literally thousands of people posting vides and selfies every day and during hajj.

  20. most likely a low level journalist who is trying hard to please his overlords…try to be a little as harsh as you can.
    the way he talk is obviously someone who has no islamic spirituality or love for the teen.
    what do you expect from a Shia trash.

  21. well maybe you can't film real close becouse privacy, and even the live stream is like WAY UP, you almost can't see a person face

  22. How many hundreds were trampled to death this year? Such a loving religion/ cult/ satanic pilgrimage. It's ok to trample over people but not cut your fingernails. When will you people read your own Quran and use your own brains for once? You live in a trance.

  23. This video clip is really bad and made sad of how mind twisting some Muslims can be. It sounded like this individual who is filming and narrating is saying "I don't belong to these retuals or bunch of people I am filming". It is unfortunate to pretend to be a Muslim and portrayed Islam or Muslim in a negative way. Islam is more beautiful than how it is being illustrated although some Muslims can be bad representation of their own religion which they truly don't understand.

  24. Seven million people from all over the world visit the Octoberfest in Munich which last two weeks, just putting things in perspective.

  25. You don't need to sneak no camara in there everybody is welcome to video and take photos. ..don't make the holy place look bad but saying you had to sneak in a camera u silly fool

  26. Guys “snuck” doesn’t mean it’s getting broadcasted on live tv this means this gentleman has gone against the rules of Mecca, however him sharing his experience is highly appreciated by many of his viewers as it’s not easier to creat a report by you’re Ipotato or in his case his IPhone

  27. If I was on the plane with you going to Mecca Praying and you say westerners would think we look like terrorists I would have corrected you by saying No , This looks like worshipers praying on there way to there most holy site of Mecca during the Hajj.

  28. So many millions of souls trapped in their culture, too afraid to question and seek the true God.
    Jesus Christ, God the Creator is nearby – His arms are outstretched, calling and waiting for you to call to Him.
    He is the ONLY way to Heaven – any other way leads to hell which is a place God had intended only for satan, NOT man.
    Seek Jesus Christ today while you still have the choice – we are already living in the end times …. SEEK HIM TODAY.

  29. Undeliberately I had opened my third eye ability since I was a little kid so the word smart is not the real reason why I often got number one in many different fields of academic and entertainment etc after I had opened my third eye ability undeliberately

    The word smart is only suitable for those who have the ability to make a phone that can delete all. All means including you, me and others such like all existences, all spaces, all places, all purposes and all nonexistences. Most of us have used our brain to think about many different beautiful people even though our brain is ugly. Life is like a game of pretend for those who want to be deleted but afraid to die or suicide. Not what to believe or how to believe but what to know and how to know because knowledge is power. Power is everything in politics so itʼs nonsense if society is more powerful than authority which usually controlled by politicians. Logically life cannot stand by itself without mathematical existences like quantity, infinity and measurement because life is completely digital. God or Gods should say thereʼs God or Gods to people instead of people should say thereʼs God or Gods. Logically itʼs a child murder if we gave a childbirth after we knew a child will be killed by childdeath. Itʼs a child murder if we gave a childbirth after we knew a childdeath is sure because death is sure. Murder means if we knew a person will die for sure after we keep doing it but still doing it. Itʼs a murder if we knew a person will surely die after we keep doing it but still doing it. Murder means if we knew a creature will die for sure after we keep doing it but still doing it. Itʼs a murder if we knew a creature will surely die after we keep doing it but still doing it. All humans are all creatures. All animals are all creatures. All insects are all creatures. All bacterias are all creatures. All organisms are all creatures. Organism means a living thing. All organisms are all living things. All living things are all creatures. Living thing means a life form. All life forms are all creatures. Our mind is often free to be used freely depends on our situation and our limited knowledge known by us. Our imagination is limited as long as we still cannot make a phone that can delete all completely. Our knowledge is limited as long as we still unable to make a phone that can delete all completely. At least we know what we want even weʼll never get what we want.⸻Kyairey is the only number one, the most conscious existence, and the most special existence of all time(s)-and-space(s)

    Sent from my Huawei phone on September 11 (eleventh) in year 2019

    “Oh⸻many shooting-and-killing-games still on Google-Play-Store but still our-own-good-idea(s) disallowed to be represented on any Facebook-Profile-Account(s)⸻obviously proved⸻capitalist(s) still handle the certain authorities in selected countries.⸻Kyairey on Sep 11th in 2019.”


    #CNN #Apple #TEDx #Anonymous #Hyperian #MHAS #MeToo #MMHA #BefriendersKL #NASA #9GAG #NETFLIX #PUBG #ParamountPictures #NasDaily #IBM #CIA #FBI #NRA #MobileLegends #PBB #NATO #INTERPOLHQ #Smule #TikTok #SubwaySurfers #UNESCO #UNICEF #NSA #MTV

    Anyway logically and accurately the religion named Islam is still the most dangerous religion compared to all non-Islamic religions because logically and accurately many people still have never witnessed many Christians have became many suicide bombers, many people still have never witnessed many Hindus have became many suicide bombers, many people still have never witnessed many Buddhists have became many suicide bombers, many people still have never witnessed many Jews have became many suicide bombers, many people still have never witnessed many non-Muslims have became many suicide bombers, many people still have never witnessed many atheists have became many suicide bombers because logically and accurately only many Muslims have became many suicide bombers:





    The Islamic sacrificing-month-each-year is murderous:









    #love #photooftheday #fashion #beautiful #happy #art #nature #selfie #travel #photography #fun #food #beauty #music #ootd #sun #beach #dog #sunset #model #motivation #cat #design #baby #funny #healthy #dogsofinstagram #night #photographer #tattoo

  30. Jesus will bring many to himself. He wants them to know the truth also. Christianity is such a simple and will bring many to the truth and freedom. Jesus is pure light and love!

  31. Honestly I scrolled through some of the comments and people or excuse me, you proud muslims calling this guy names for saying he snuck a camera in, well from my view, yeah he probably recorded things that are not broadcast live. So understand the context first! His parents are apart of it, so he may already know that, he lives in New York though. 2nd point is I didn't see many people video taping other than himself, if anyone.

    The Muslim religion is absolutely mind blowing to me, I almost cant wrap my head around it, I'm from the "western side" of the world.

    I have researched, thankfully , which religion is, really the absolute truth…….. and not just partially true, meaning deceived…

    Obviously you continue to say (peace be up him) the prophet, right? Well I heard this one man was actually considered to be the (Prince of Peace) and turns out that His own people had Him killed, even after the many Great things He did for them.. but see they all thought they were righteous people who didnt like to be corrected, so with their pride and deceitful hearts, had Him put to death while switching an actual bad guy, to put Him in that bad guys place, who deserved punishment for his crimes.

    That person, is none other than Jesus Christ. YHWH. Yahweh

    I heard Satan wanted to, BE LIKE, THE MOST HIGH GOD. jealousy and pride

    THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL ELSE, meaning you let your feelings and emotions come between you and The Absolute Truth.

    Muslims, blow my mind, I love you people, if you say you love someone and mean it, by definition, you tell them the truth.

    Catholic church is an abomination to The Father. She is a harlot. The real church is the bride of Christ.

    Your own scriptures speak for themselves. They lead you with a false light straight to a bottomless pit… the only rock bottom, is none other than, (The Prince of Peace) (The Lord of all Lords) (King of all Kings) (The Alpha and Omega) the only God.

  32. Get out of this stupid CULT…AND YOU ARE A BUNCH OF FANATICAL JIHADI'S…Read the Koran IN ARABIC, you will realize it's a STUPID BOOK

  33. We Snuck a Handicam into the biggest isis training camp Saudi Arabia to film the Islamic tradition of bomb making, the worlds largest recruitment drive and the biggest gathering of inbred people in the world at any given time.


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