International pilgrims express gratitude for the Kingdom’s Hajj efforts

09/08/19

  • President of the Lebanese Islamic Center for Studies and Media said Saudi Hajj efforts are make him proud
  • Religious advisor from New Zealand said Hajj will help victims of Christchurch terror attack heal

DUBAI: Pilgrims from around the world have thanked King Salman for the new services offered during Hajj, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

Mused Abduljalil. (SPA)

Mused Abduljalil, a pilgrim from the families of martyrs and Yemen’s national army soldiers’ group, visited Makkah as part of “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests’ program for Hajj and Umrah.”

“When I received King Salman bin Abudlaziz’s invitation to perform Hajj, my emotions were mixed with happiness tears that my dream was coming true,” Abdulmajid said.

Anwar Jaafar Al-Murooj. (SPA)

Meanwhile, Serbia’s senior imam and mufti advisor sheikh Anwar Jaafar Al-Murooj said the Kingdom was a leading power in the Islamic world.

The Saudi support for Muslims from around the world, including those from Serbia specifically, left him speechless, he added.

Khaldoon Oraymet. (SPA)

The president of the Lebanese Islamic Center for Studies and Media, judge and Sheikh Khaldoon Oraymet, said he was happy to join “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests’ program for Hajj and Umrah.”

“What the Kingdom does for pilgrims makes us proud, as despite the hardships in Lebanon we feel like Saudi Arabia will stand in the face of those who want to cause trouble in the Arab world,” he added.

Saeed Abdulaziz. (SPA)

In the meantime, the Mufti of Karelia province in Finland Sheikh Saeed Abdulaziz, who has already previously performed Hajj, said the newly implemented technologies by the Kingdom made the experience easier.

He and his group of pilgrims did not face any problems in commuting between their accommodation and the various places of worship, Abdulaziz added.

Mohammed Haneef Kewazi. (SPA)

Meanwhile, one of the advisors of an Islamic association in New Zealand, Mohammed Haneef Kewazi, thanked the King and the Crown Prince for inviting the families and victims of Christchurch terrorist attack.

The happiness of those pilgrims will help them heal from the pain of the shooting incident, he added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Arab News Hajj app explained

09/08/19

What it is

The Arab News Hajj app is a free smartphone application designed to help pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia to perform the holy rituals. It offers essential information and contact details needed during their spiritual journey. 

This year’s version of the app, endorsed once more by the Muslim World League, comes with a new design that provides an improved user experience. Enhanced features include live news updates and the signature ‘Pilgrim Tracker,’ which enables worshippers to connect with their loved ones back home. The new features give pilgrims the option to listen to verses from the Qur’an, to use a digital Qibla compass and activate a real-time currency converter to help to process their payments.

 

What it does: Main features

 

Pilgrim tracker: If you get lost in the crowd of Hajj pilgrims, there is no need to panic. This feature allows you to track and check on friends and family while performing Hajj. Each user has a unique code that can be shared with their loved ones to let them know where they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hajj information: All you need to know about Hajj rituals. Key information such as daily prayer times and weather updates can also be found under this feature. It also has important contact details of all embassies and other useful numbers such as hotels and restaurants. The feature also shows pilgrims the nearest hospitals, train stations and Grand Mosque gates.

 

 

 

 

Latest news: Pilgrims no longer need to worry about grabbing newspapers or checking online news outlets while performing Hajj. All the latest stories and developments from our team of journalists covering Hajj will be listed in detail under this feature.

 

 


 

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Staying safe at Arafat: a guide

09/08/19

An Egyptian pilgrim pushes his elderly father in a wheelchair Friday at the huge tent city of Mina, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, where pilgrims will spend the night before heading to Mount Arafat on Saturday. (AP Photo)

Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah. (File/Reuters)

  • On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims will leave Mina and head to the area of Mount Arafat for a day of prayer and contemplation, repenting for their sins and asking Allah’s forgiveness
  • Umbrellas are an excellent way for pilgrims to gain some protection from the sun’s glare – health experts also highly recommend sunscreen and sunglasses

JEDDAH: As Hajj pilgrims begin their entry into the vicinity of Mount Arafat on Saturday, Arab News takes a look at the most important information you need to know regarding the day of supplication and prayer.

According to the Prophet (PBUH), “Hajj is Arafah”. Arafah Day is the most fundamental of the rites of Hajj, and without it, the pilgrimage cannot be complete. On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims will leave Mina and head to the area of Mount Arafat for a day of prayer and contemplation, repenting for their sins and asking Allah’s forgiveness before heading to Muzdalifah.

With more than 2 million pilgrims performing Hajj this year, safety is a concern for everyone involved. And with Hajj taking place in the middle of summer, the heat poses a serious problem. Here are some tips on how pilgrims can stay safe during this scorching Hajj season.

Pilgrims are required to enter Arafah any time before sunset, which is when pilgrims will start making their journey to Muzdalifah. Therefore some pilgrims can try to avoid the biggest crowds and journey to Arafah any time during the day, as long as they arrive before Maghrib prayer.

The number one concern of Hajj pilgrims is heat stroke; the Ministry of Hajj reported that heat-related illnesses contributed to 24 percent of hospital admissions in 2015. Various hospitals throughout Makkah have echoed the sentiment.

According to the rules of Ihram (Hajj preparation), men are forbidden from covering their heads with hats, turbans, and anything touching the tops of their heads. A common misconception is that this means that they cannot cover their heads at all, but umbrellas are an excellent way for pilgrims to gain some protection from the sun’s glare. Health experts also highly recommend sunscreen, sunglasses and other means of sun protection.

Pilgrims are also advised to ensure that their footwear is appropriate: male pilgrims are allowed to wear open sandals or flip-flops, and are not advised to try to perform Hajj barefoot. Female pilgrims can wear anything, as long as it is taher (free of decontaminants). The ground can often get dangerously hot and cause severe discomfort. The only time during Hajj a pilgrim is required to be barefoot is within the Masjid Al-Haram and during the tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka’abah).

Another important tip is to stay hydrated; the heat can peak at 50 degrees at the worst of times, and combined with the efforts of performing Hajj, the danger of dehydration is very real. There are various points throughout all the major stops of Hajj where pilgrims can get water and zamzam, and having a canteen or a refillable water bottle can be a godsend. For those who prefer their water cold, insulated bottles such as those available from Corkcicle or Thermos can keep your drinks cold for long periods of time.

It’s also important to remember that with so many people from all around the world in such a small place, the potential to get sick rises significantly. It’s important to always have some vitamin C tablets with you, and other immunity boosters. Proper sustenance is also a must; keeping one’s strength up is a vital part of being able to get the most out of one’s Hajj. Healthy foods, healthy snacks, and proper doses of vitamins can help you minimize your chances of getting sick post-Hajj.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Hajj chiefs launch two smart apps to help pilgrims

Time: August 07, 2019  

The Manasikana app was launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. (Social media)
  • The app is available in 9 languages

JEDDAH: Hajj authorities have launched two interactive apps to help pilgrims, with a range of services on smart devices including help in finding emergency service centers, holy sites, currency exchanges, restaurants and accommodation.

Available in nine languages including English, Urdu and French, the Manasikana app was launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage. It provides geographical coordinates to pinpoint exact locations in Makkah, Madinah and other cities, even without an internet connection.

Holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa, plus mosques, restaurants and toilets are among places highlighted on the app, which has already been downloaded more than 10,000 times.

Prayers for different Hajj rituals are also available, with detailed guides and dos and don’ts on performing the pilgrimage.

The Saudi Post’s app for pilgrims, the Hajj and Umrah Navigator, features maps giving directions to holy places in Makkah and Madinah. Pilgrims can input addresses, services, camp numbers or the names of Hajj companies to search for information in 16 languages.

The navigator can also find faster routes between busy centers and offers other information such as directions to the Kaaba, weather forecasts and prayer times.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior’s traffic police department for Hajj has also developed an app for organizers planning vehicle movements during peak periods. It is constantly updated to cover all types of transport.

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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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