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Emotional send-off for OR Tambo hujjaj

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Emotions reached a climax as hujjaj were torn apart in leaving their families behind and embarking on a lifetime journey to the holy land.

Tears rolled on the cheeks as they strolled to the checking-in point after bidding farewell to their loved ones. These were tears of joy of fulfilling that desire, which every living Muslim wishes for.

The hajj tour operators had to rush up and down as they had to call hujjaj repeatedly and remind them to make their way to the airport departures lounge.

Such was the scenario on Monday at Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, where almost 280 hujjaj were travelling for the blessed journey to Saudi Arabia.

Signs of nervousness were glaring on many travellers especially on those who were making the journey for the first time.

Mahmood Abu Bakr had waited for this journey for over ten years.

His waiting was finally over as his thoughts were far ahead on sighting the House of Allah for the first time.

“The feeling is something I can’t explain we haven’t been for umrah, I will see the Ka’aba for the first time and we can’t wait to get to Madina,” said Abu Bakr, who sent his parent for the blessed journey in 1995.

The voyage to Makkah was emotional for Mohammed Bhamjee who was leaving behind ill parents. He travels to be the guest of Allah for the first time with conviction that his duas will be duly answered.

“At the most it’s still like dreaming it hasn’t sunk in yet but as we go along it will in shaa Allah,’ he said.

“I am in gratitude to Allah who chose me from the millions of people who applied, I applied in 2009 and this year I was accepted.”

Hafiz Muhsin who is on the pilgrimage with his wife said the journey so far was full of mixed emotions. He said,

“To leave the family but at the same time we are excited to get the holy lands. When we get there we shall take it one day at a time but our main objective will be to find Allah,” he said.

A journey to remember

Being bystander to these moving developments at the airport at this juncture was heart warming. It brought at feeling of wishing to embark on this journey. The sight of hujjaj waiting to board the plane was outstanding.

Their body language itself had a lot to tell. Such was the case of Durban –based Imraan Bhakat who was standing clutching his hand luggage silently with a face couldn’t hide his anxiety.

He was awaiting his turn to check-in to leave the shores of South Africa destined for Madina where he hopes to feel the calmness of the Prophet’s city. He had waited for 3 years for this day and here he was finally, ready to board the plane.

“I am very nervous and excited as well, it’s something that you can’t describe. I hear people saying Madina is peaceful and you have to be there to experience it, so we are hoping to experience that as well,” said Bhakat.

The airport terminal was buzzing with relatives accompanying their families and security guards were enlisted to barricade the entrance.

Hajj tour operators and members South African Hajj and Umrah Council were present assisting the hujjaj and customs officials for efficient process which reportedly saw the ever largest contingent ever depart from the country on a direct flight to Madina.

“We are basically here to show our presence, to show the hujjaj that we are here, we were there from the start and we will be there on the other side when they arrive.

“We are here to facilitate, Alhamdulillah for hajj there’s hasn’t been any issues with visa,” said Hamza from Al Anwar Hajj and Umrah.

Travelling to hajj comes with anxiety for many people said Ameer Hamza Mokaddam, a Yusra Tours representative who is part of the delegation travelling for hajj.

He said he was there to bring calmness to the hujjaj who are often nervous on the dream journey.

“Initially there’s a reaction of fear and anxiety and once you speak to the hujjaj, the moment you talk to them and find they are talking to someone else.

“There’s an interaction from someone who has been there before and they feel a little bit comfortable they tend to relax and open up and let you know how they feel about the journey,” said Mokaddam.

The Monday hajj trip however failed to take off as Saudi Airlines plane developed a technical fault prompting the airline to book hujjaj at hotels in and areas around the airport.

At the time of publishing, the airline was reportedly due to finally depart, after several frustrating postponement. Source: Channel Islam Internatioal

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