More than 1.4 million foreign pilgrims are expected to perform Haj this year, said Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar.
“About 1.36 million pilgrims already arrived from different countries by Sunday night and we expect their number to cross the 1.4-million mark,” he said.
Acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih, meanwhile, said no cases of contagious disease have been reported among pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah.
“Hospitals and medical personnel are taking proper care of the guests of God and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is closely following up on pilgrims’ health-related matters,” he added.
Hajjar launched a major Haj seminar entitled “Respecting the Signs of Allah” in Makkah and said it was a historic tradition to hold such seminars during the Haj season, with the participation of prominent scholars from around the world to exchange ideas for the benefit of the Ummah.
The three-day seminar is being attended by thinkers, authors and media personalities from different countries. “We hope that you take the information you received from this seminar and its research papers to your societies to enlighten your Hajis.”
Hajjar stressed the need for educating pilgrims before they arrive in the Kingdom.
“It will help reduce the many problems we are facing today. It will also help pilgrims avoid many mistakes,” the minister said.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said respecting Haj rituals means respecting Allah and his teachings. It will help pilgrims perform Haj in the right way, he added.
He commended the government’s efforts to expand the Grand Mosque and the mataf, or circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba, saying it would help pilgrims perform their rituals easily and comfortably.
He praised the ministry for organizing the seminar, saying it would help scholars from different countries to express their views on various Haj-related issues for the benefit of pilgrims and proper Haj management.
“The Muslim world has been going through difficult times because of division,” the mufti said, urging Muslims to return to the Qur’an and Sunnah and follow the means of goodness. He emphasized the need for greater efforts to enlighten Muslim youth and protect them from being enticed by terrorist groups.
Hisham bin Abdullah Al-Abbas, secretary-general of the seminar, emphasized the importance of the seminar’s topic. “Pilgrims must keep away from activities that would violate the sanctity of Haj or cause harm to fellow pilgrims,” he added. ARAB NEWS