Follow the Hajj rules for a trouble-free pilgrimage

Time: August 07, 2019

The Hajj season is upon us once more, and Saudi Arabia is as usual exerting enormous efforts to ensure that every pilgrim can fulfill their spiritual duty. However, with rights come responsibilities, and there are irregularities that must be avoided — both by pilgrims and by those who serve them.
One of the most common offenses committed during Hajj is attempting to take part in the pilgrimage without a lawful permit. Anyone who tries to do so will be prevented from entering Makkah.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has also warned against dealing with phantom pilgrimage service companies, and urges everyone to contribute to the application of Hajj rules and regulations by immediately reporting any such company to the relevant authorities.
Providing transport to people who do not have a permit to travel to Makkah is also an offense, and the penalties are severe. First offenders may be fined SR10,000 ($2,666) and imprisoned for 10 days, a second offense is punishable with a fine of SR25,000 and two months’ imprisonment, and a third with a fine of SR50,000 and six months in jail. If the offender is an expatriate, they will be deported after the penalties are complete, and prevented from entering the Kingdom for a period specified by the law.
In addition, the vehicle involved will be confiscated by the Public Prosecution, and the name of the offender and the sentence imposed will be made public.
The Ministry of Interior has drawn attention to these issues several times over the years, but the offenses still happen. Already this Hajj season, more than 329,000 people without a permit have been prevented from entering Makkah, along with nearly 150,000 vehicles, 15 drivers have been arrested for illegally transporting pilgrims, and 181 bogus Hajj offices have been closed.
Nor does the end of Hajj necessarily mean the end of irregularities. Pilgrims who remain in the Kingdom after their Hajj visa has expired may be fined SR15,000, with a fine of SR25,000 and three months’ imprisonment for a second offense and a fine of SR50,000 and six months in prison for a third, along with deportation in all cases.
Much appreciation is due to government agencies in the Kingdom for their awareness-raising campaigns, in many languages and through international channels, offering guidance on Hajj and the pitfalls to be avoided.
Hajj is a great sacred duty, and the rules must be respected to ensure that everyone may perform the pilgrimage with sincerity and in absolute safety.

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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Peaceful nature of true Islam highlighted as Hajj Grand Symposium concludes in Makkah

Time: August 07, 2019  

The 44th annual Hajj Grand Symposium concluded on Tuesday. (Supplied)
  • It was important that Muslims highlight the morality and message of peace that is the true face of Islam

MAKKAH: The 44th annual Hajj Grand Symposium concluded on Tuesday after two days of debate and discussion on the theme of “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance.”
The event, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and held at Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel, featured Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and across the Islamic world. It included a number of sessions on subjects such as: “Islam in serving societies,” “coexistence and tolerance in Islam,” “humanity in the digital world,” “the doors of guidance in Islam” and “Islam and coexistence issues.”
In a speech on the second day of the symposium, Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, the deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, stressed the importance of hosting the symposium each year. It benefits everyone, he said, thanks to the diversity of the participants and the important benefits that can be obtained from learning about their experiences and listening to their recommendations. He said they will assist the country’s leaders in their efforts to continue to improve Hajj and Umrah services.
Mashat said that the ways in which we deal with the digital world reflects our identity. When technology is misused, it harms religion and humanity. He also stressed the importance of maintaining a presence in the digital world that preserves personal identity.
“When we talk about tolerance and coexisting, we cannot separate the true human identity from the digital identity,” he said. “When there is a difference between the two identities then that will create a double identity.”
Technical expert Abdullah Al-Saba said that prior to the digital revolution, the scope for sharing information was much more limited. As technology has advanced, our lives have gotten easier and we can reach others and spread information more quickly to greater numbers of people. This can serve Islam, he said, for example by using technology to help and track pilgrims during their journeys for Hajj and Umrah.
Counselor Khaled Al-Hajri led a session on Tuesday titled “embracing Islam” that featured Yusuf Estes, an American Islamic preacher, Dr. Rateb Junaid, from United Muslims of Australia, and former French footballer Nicola Anilka.
Estes said it is important to properly reflect the true, positive nature of Islam through actions, including charitable actions, and not only words. Junaid added that after recent terrorist attacks around the world, it was important that Muslims highlight the morality and message of peace that is the true face of Islam.

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Hajj symposium calls for coexistence and tolerance

Time: August 06, 2019  

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  • Kingdom’s benevolent contributions are rooted in the memory of humanity: KSRelief chief

MAKKAH: The 44th annual Hajj Grand Symposium began on Monday in Makkah, with peaceful coexistence as its main theme.
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Bentin opened the two-day gathering at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel. Welcoming the participants, who include Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and across the Islamic world, he said that the title of this year’s event, “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance,” reflects the desire of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote a message of peace and harmony.
He highlighted the efforts made and services provided by his ministry to benefit Hajj pilgrims throughout their stay in the Kingdom. Bentin said that the king is following with great interest the experiences of pilgrims, along with the ongoing development projects in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.
The minister noted that two million electronic visas were issued to pilgrims this year with no problems, and said the best is yet to come as improvements continue to the services and assistance offered to visitors. He added that the government is keen to do all it can to ensure the comfort and safety of pilgrims, so they can fully devote themselves to worship and Hajj rituals.
“Makkah is currently receiving a large number of pilgrims, equal to the city’s population,” Bentin said. “It is thanks to the excellent management and advanced organizational skills that we feel that they are part of the population of Makkah. More than 350,000 people came from all over the Kingdom to serve the pilgrims, and we in Saudi Arabia are proud to serve them.”
He added that with its scientific and Islamic science themes, the symposium provides a great service to Muslims, researchers and the wider world.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser to the Royal Court and general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), presided over the first session of the symposium. He hailed the Kingdom’s leading humanitarian role in providing various forms of assistance to the needy in countries around the world.
“Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country whose benevolent contributions are deeply rooted in the memory of humanity. It has provided about $92.4 billion (SR347 billion) to support 84 countries in the world between 1996 and 2019,” he said.
During the second session, which was chaired by Shiekh Saad Al-Shithri, an adviser to the Royal Court, Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, also an adviser to the Royal Court and a member of the Senior Ulema Council, and Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, discussed tolerance and coexistence from an Islamic perspective.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, who is also general supervisor of the symposium, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example for others to follow.
“We receive pilgrims from various nationalities and cultures, and we treat them equally,” he said “What we expect from them is that they focus on performing the Hajj rituals in a peaceful and secure environment.”

SPEEDREAD

• Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example to follow, says deputy Hajj minister.

• Riyadh has provided about SR347 billion to support 84 countries in the world.

Mashat added that for Muslims to practice tolerance and coexistence fruitfully, they should start by showing acceptance for, and acting in accordance with, Islam’s moderate principles.
“The culture of tolerance begins within the person, who can then promote and spread that culture. Saudi Arabian leadership and citizens are an example that clearly and practically embodies this fact,” he added.
“We don’t only have scholars from all parts of the world (at the conference), but experts from various fields of science will also discuss coexistence and tolerance. People of the same profession, such as doctors, will discuss how a physician should be tolerant and how he coexists with others. Religious scholars also will discuss the same thing.” He added that all topics and workshops in the symposium will be based around the title theme.
On Tuesday, Mashat was scheduled to preside over a session titled “Humanity in the Digital Age.” The speakers were due to include: Dr. Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s minister of culture and knowledge development; Sultan Al-Rumaithi, head of the Muslim Council of Elders in the UAE; Arwa Arab, assistant professor at King Abdul Aziz University’s department of psychology; and Dr. Ahmed Al-Thenayan, the Saudi deputy minister for technology and digital capacities.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs and supervisor of the symposium’s executive committee, said: “The ministry aspires to achieve many goals through this Hajj symposium, including highlighting the cultural and civilizational role of the Kingdom, promoting scientific and cultural communication between Islamic scholars from around the world, focusing on the most important achievements and projects serving Muslims in the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, and contributing to strengthening the bonds and cooperation of the Islamic nation.”
The first Hajj Grand Symposium was held in 1977 under the title “Awareness on Hajj.” Each year it focuses on different topics related to the Hajj season and Islamic values, in a bid to promote awareness of Islam.
This year, the ministry has arranged special trips for guests to explore historic areas and exhibitions in Makkah and Madinah, as well as attending the symposium’s activities.

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329,000 people stopped from entering Makkah for lack of Hajj permit

Time: August 05, 2019  

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal tours the holy places in Makkah on Sunday. (SPA)
  • 15 arrested for illegally transporting pilgrims, 181 bogus Hajj offices closed
  • The measure is enforced during the Hajj season to prevent congestion

JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal on Sunday said more than 329,000 people had been stopped from entering the holy city since the start of the Hajj season for lack of Hajj permit.

More than 144,000 vehicles without permits had also been disallowed from entering the city, 15 drivers had been arrested for illegally transporting pilgrims, and 181 bogus Hajj offices had been closed, said the governor, who is also chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee.

The measure is enforced every Hajj season to prevent congestion.

Prince Khalid said the Saudi government has mobilized more than 350,000 people from different sectors to serve Hajj pilgrims.

He also said Saudi Arabia is not responsible for obstacles put up by the Qatari government to impede its citizens who want to perform Hajj.

“We’re not responsible for what they do. We’re responsible for what we do. We’ve opened the doors of the country and our hearts to receive pilgrims from all over the world. We serve them equally, and we welcome them in the holy land,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had created a new webpage for Qataris who wish to perform the pilgrimage this year. It then called on Qatar not to block the webpage as it did previously.

Qatari Hajj pilgrims can register their details, browse packages and pay for them at: qatar1440.haj.gov.sa

Pilgrims “are here for Hajj and worship. Let them dedicate themselves to worship and leave the other things. They’ll be welcomed and served by Saudis,” the governor said.

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New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer thanks King Salman for making Hajj dream come true

Time: August 05, 2019  

Superintendent Naila Hassan of the New Zealand police. (Supplied photo)
  • Superintendent Naila Hassan praises Saudi Arabia for Hajj ‘generosity’
  • “As much as it’s a journey for me, I’m here for the victims,” she says in a video

JEDDAH: Just over four months ago, police superintendent Naila Hassan was giving an emotional speech at a vigil in New Zealand for the 51 people murdered in the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack.

Now Hassan, New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer, is in Makkah to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage — and her dream has come true.

“As a Muslim, you just dream about seeing the Kaaba and going to Makkah and Madinah,” she said in a video thanking Saudi King Salman for hosting the Christchurch pilgrims.

“When I saw the Kaaba this morning, I was breathless, I really was.

“But … as much as it’s a journey for me, I’m here for the victims … I’m here particularly for the women and the widows that are here. I’m here to support them.”

Vigil in Auckland

Hassan described how she and about 200 other pilgrims were welcomed with petals, singing and gifts. “I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life,” she said.

“I’m thanking King Salman for his generosity. He has just been unbelievably generous to the people of New Zealand.”

The day after the March 15 Christchurch massacre, Hassan gave a speech at a vigil in Auckland in support of the Muslim community and fellow New Zealanders.

Opening with the Islamic greeting, she reassured the crowd that police were providing support to the Muslim community and everyone affected.

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said on Sunday that hosting the Christchurch pilgrims was part of Saudi efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms.

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Officials laud Saudi efforts to serve Hajj pilgrims

Time: August 04, 2019  

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sunday,
  • Taya urged pilgrims not to raise any political, doctrinal or racist slogans during the Hajj season

CAIRO: Makram Mohammed Ahmed, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation, hailed Saudi efforts to provide pilgrims with all facilities to perform Hajj easily and smoothly.
He said that the Muslim world and the international community greatly admire and appreciate those efforts.
Meanwhile, the president of the Shoura Council of Kyrgyz Muslim Scholars, Habibullah ibn Nabi Al-Din, lauded the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah.
A guest of this year’s program, he thanked the Saudi leadership for its care and interest in Islam and Muslims.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf, Dr. Jaber Taya, said Saudi Arabia provides the best services to pilgrims every year.
He praised all efforts exerted by the government and private sectors in the Kingdom to help pilgrims perform their rituals easily, comfortably and safely.
Taya urged pilgrims not to raise any political, doctrinal or racist slogans during the Hajj season.

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Saudi Arabia praised for keeping millions connected during Hajj

Time: August 02, 2019  

A policeman helps a pilgrim capture a souvenir photo at Arafat. (File/AN photo/Ahmad Hasshad)
  • “the work the government has to do here in the Kingdom on the connectivity side when there is Hajj is amazing,” says expert

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) have been praised for their efforts to improve the Hajj experience through the use of technology.

A senior official from the Internet Society, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the internet, congratulated the ministry and the industry regulator for the incredible achievement of providing reliable connectivity to the millions of pilgrims who visit the country each year.

Speaking to Arab News Jane Coffin, senior adviser to the CEO and president of the Internet Society, said: “One thing that is fascinating about the ministry and the regulator, the CITC, is that the work the government has to do here in the Kingdom on the connectivity side when there is Hajj is amazing.

“They have a lot of people coming in and they have worked to ensure total readiness to help with the connectivity … which is impressive.”

Jane Coffin

More than 2 million people visit Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj each year and Coffin said a huge amount of work is needed to ensure reliable connectivity for such a large number. People not only use their phones for data, text messages and instant messaging but they also take and share photos and videos, she noted.

“The burden on the network to deliver that traffic is immense,” she said. “It is an amazing achievement by the ministry and the regulator.”

Coffin is responsible for development strategy at the Internet Society, where her work focuses on coordination of collaborative strategies for expanding internet infrastructure, access and related capacities in emerging economies.

She was visiting Riyadh for an event, organized by the society and ministry, focusing on best practices for a vibrant digital environment. She said that it included discussions of internet safety and internet exchange points (IXP), the physical infrastructure through which traffic passes from one network to another, which are an integral part of the global internet infrastructure.

“We do workshops like this and work with the communities all over the region,” she added. “To bring in more internet connectivity to help with the IXP, that was the part of reason we were here.

“We are trying to help make the internet cheaper, better and faster here and create a more level playing field for everybody.”

Coffin also praised the ongoing program of reforms in support of Saudi Vision 2030, and highlighted the role of digital transformation as part of the process.

“I am sure they will carry out the mission; Vision 2030 is very impressive and it means that the Kingdom is thinking of moving in another direction, which is very important for development including literacy, business and the health sector, because connectivity underpins everything.”

She also pointed out that Riyadh will host the 15th G20 summit next year, which also represents another major boost to digital transformation in the country.

Regarding the potential for future cooperation and partnerships with the Saudi ministry, she said that while there are currently no specific plans to work together, “we are definitely talking to them more about what we can do.”

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More than 7,000 teams to serve pilgrims during Hajj 2019

Time: July 31, 2019  

For the 15th year in a row, the Youth of Makkah at Your Service program has maintained its role in serving pilgrims with the participation of 500 young men. (SPA)
  • The staff are carrying out awareness initiatives to guide the worshippers in religious and organizational aspects in order to help them perform their rituals with comfort

MAKKAH: The operational plan of the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque is being implemented by 7,720 teams to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.
The agency’s teams are providing their services in all aspects of the plan. These include service, engineering, technical, technological, cultural, information, social aspects and oversight functions.
The staff are carrying out awareness initiatives to guide the worshippers in religious and organizational aspects in order to help them perform their rituals with comfort.
The service aspect is one of the most important field tasks in the operational plan of the agency. Staff working on these tasks are responsible for cleaning the Prophet’s Mosque, supplying all sites with carpets and Zamzam water, cleaning machinery and equipment, transferring older persons and people with special needs, providing guidance services, preparing portable containers for distributing Zamzam bottles, and ensuring the cleanliness of prayer areas and other facilities.

FASTFACT

For the 15th year in a row, the ‘Youth of Makkah at Your Service’ program has maintained its role in serving pilgrims with the participation of 500 young men.

Moreover, the staff responsible for service tasks open and guard the mosque’s doors, organize the movement of crowds as part of the initiative for clearing paths, maintain the security and safety of the mosque and its facilities, oversee parking areas, and allocate medical emergency sites and provide them with the necessary equipment.
For the 15th year in a row, the Youth of Makkah at Your Service program has maintained its role in serving pilgrims with the participation of 500 young men, who are undertaking activities during the season in partnership with several government bodies.
The acting director general of the Project for the Glorification of the Sacred City, Saud Al-Rehaili, said its activities aim to guide those who get lost inside the Grand Mosque and help older persons and those with special needs perform the Tawaf and Sai.

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Makkah prepares for Hajj symposium on coexistence and tolerance

Time: July 29, 2019  

Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Salih Bentin. (SPA)
  • Islamic thinkers and scholars to take part in the two-day symposium

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin will launch the 44th Hajj Grand Symposium on Aug. 5 under the title “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance.”

The two-day symposium at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel will include Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and other areas of the Islamic world.

Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister for Hajj and Umrah and general supervisor of the symposium, said: “The Hajj Grand Symposium is one of the main events the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has sponsored since its inception in 1970. Every year the symposium discusses different topics related to the Hajj season and Islamic values, thereby promoting Islam and raising awareness.

“This scientific and cultural meeting appoints the top Islamic scholars to discuss the topics with the audience and share knowledge,” he added.

Dr. Abdulaziz Wazzan, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs and supervisor of the symposium’s executive committee, said: “The ministry aspires to achieve many goals through this Hajj symposium, including highlighting the cultural and civilizational role of the Kingdom, promoting scientific and cultural communication between Islamic scholars from around the world, focusing on the most important achievements and projects serving Muslims in the two holy mosques and the holy sites, and contributing to strengthening the bonds and cooperation of the Islamic nation.”

From July 30 the ministry will receive the symposium’s guests from the Kingdom and the other parts of the Islamic world. The ministry has also arranged special trips for the guests to explore historic areas and exhibitions in Makkah and Medina as well as attending the symposium’s activities.

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King Salman to host 2,000 family members of Yemeni army ‘martyrs’ during Hajj

27/07/19

King Salman will host 2,000 family members of Yemeni army and Popular Resistance soldiers who died fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen during this year’s Hajj. (SPA)

The 2,000 pilgrims will perform the pilgrimage as part of the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah’ which is overseen by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance
Earlier, King Salman issued a directive for 200 family members of the victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand to also be hosted during Hajj
RIYADH: King Salman will host 2,000 family members of Yemeni army and Popular Resistance soldiers who died fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen during this year’s Hajj.
The 2,000 pilgrims will perform the pilgrimage as part of the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah’ which is overseen by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.
Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said that the family members of those who died while participating in the “Determination Storm and Restoring of Hope” operations as part of the Arab coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen would be hosted in a mark of appreciation of the sacrifices made by the personnel to restore unity and safety in the country.
Earlier, King Salman issued a directive for 200 family members of the victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand to also be hosted during Hajj.

This article was first published in Arab News

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