As they stepped out with their right feet from the home attended by prayers from those who loved them just as many before them have done before.
Monday, December 8, 2008
HAJ 1429 (2008) 10 ZULHIJAH/ 08 DECEMBER
Syukur Al'hamdullilah. Perjalanan urusan Haji di Mekkah Al Mukarammah tahun ini berjalan lancar tanpa apa-apa berita buruk sehingga petang ini, hari pertama kita di Malaysia menyambut AidilAdha. 8 Disember 2008 . Sempenanya elok juga dicatatkan serba sedikit perihal Haj.Jesteru mengucapkan Selamat Menyambut AidilAdha and menyempurnakan 'korban' jika berkaitan.
Thankful that the Haj obligations have seen no major setbacks. It is always a daunting prospect for pilgrims and their families.
The Saudi authorities have taken precautions to avoid the perennial mishaps that had happened before. The previous Haj had seen incidents which claimed lives due to stampede, building and tunnel collapses, fire,uncontrolled mass movement of people and road accidents. Naturally it is easy to blame the authorities, but bearing in mind an invasion of over TWO million people at one place and time for a particular duty and obsession it must be a Herculean task for all concerned. That it comes around every year, none stop with increasing demand from Muslim pilgrims all over the world to get there is no respite for rest and good planning. Yet they have done the best to welcome the world's Muslims to Allah's home and also at the Prophet Muhammad's abode in Madinah.
Those who made their first visit would inadvertently whisper quietly within themselves for a quick return visit to the Holy land. They pray that Allah would grant them another opportunity to be there again. The clamour and the feeling surmounted all other hopes and decisions. Mind you, travelling to Mekkah from the far reaches of Asia is no bed of roses particularly with the higher cost of fuel, accommodation and other services. Pilgrims who make the trips are generally from the hard-earning wage earners or the rural folks. We understand this year 1.7 million visas were issued and 500,000 Saudi nationals gained permits to perform Haj this season. They had to restrict their own nationals to perform the Haj in respect of the magnitude envisaged annually. That construction works have been going on in Mekkah especially for a modern city with all the infrastructures and faster communication augers well for pilgrims in the future years.
On Sunday over two million Muslim pilgrims had gathered round a small hill east of Mekkah in the plain of Arafat. Here all the male pilgrims came dressed in their white 'ihram' shrouds and women in dark or white dresses, gathered in the plain for the peak of the Haj before they moved to Muzalifa and Mina for the consequent throwing of the stones. The surge of pilgrims in great numbers saw the mushrooming of tents stretching for miles especially at Arafat with all the comforts of homes. The more comfortable ones would have central air conditioning and other necessities. It would be a picture repeated once each year and at other times it beacons back to the open desert plain though inundated with hordes of piping system allowing trees to grow and afford shades very much desired by pilgrims and visitors.
Journeying to the Holy land,Mekkah and Madinah for the Haj, meant a lifetime saving for the great majority. Through Tabung Haji ( the Malaysian Pilgrimage Board), the current all-in costing for a duration of forty days would be in the range of RM9000 -RM10,000.00 per person. This would mean being accommodated in a six person-sharing room with all boards included. Should you choose to take a double room and with your spouse then it could go between RM15,000 to RM25,000 depending on the choice of hotels and closeness to the mosques. Airfare, accommodation and board fifteen years ago was RM4500.00
The number of pilgrims from Malaysia alone in the queue for the Haj is quite outstanding. Depending on the number of visas accommodated by the Saudi Government annually, a haj candidate who registers now would be expected to get his turn in the year 2022. Anyhow concessions would be given to senior persons or those with valid reasons to gain earlier dates.
For all the circumstances that faced pilgrims on the Haj journey, it is reasonable to expect that they would attempt to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam when they are strong and not when they reach their senior years. Our daughter and her husband are currently on this year's pilgrimage. At thirty years plus, they would be in a position to bear all the circumstances as well as assist others as need be. We hear that they are in that frame and we wish for them the state of mind to obtain 'haji mabrur' and happy home coming.
A Haji or Hajah returns home cleansed like a new born baby and ready to tread on a new life-style. InsyaAllah. We wish all friends who have taken this year's journey to Mekkah a happy return and may Allah gives you all the blessings and future undertakings as you would wish for.