From the news desk

Hujjaaj complete the final days of Haj 2016

While South Africans have for the most part concluded their Eid al-Adha celebrations, millions of pilgrims in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are completing the final days of Haj 2016. The approximately 2000 South African hujjaaj observed the most pertinent ritual of haj on Sunday as they stood in earnest on the plains of Arafat awaiting the time of wuquf. On Monday, hujjaaj began the pelting of the jamarat, after which the approximately 1.5 million hujjaaj removed their hair and exited the state of ihram.

Speaking to VOC from the tent city of Mina on day four of haj, social activist and first time haji, Yusuf Abramjee explained that despite the soaring temperatures, South African hujjaaj reported no incidents.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia needs to be praised for the excellent infrastructure, security, and for [seeing to] the well-being of the pilgrims,” Abramjee stated.

He says that the hujjaaj have concluded the process of picking up stones in Muzdallafah and on Monday began the first day of pelting.

While on Monday the hujjaaj pelted the main jamarat, Jamarat al-Aqabah, after zawaal on Tuesday, the hujjaaj pelted all three of the jamarat.

Abramjee further notes that everything went smoothly for his travelling group, which took approximately 10 minutes to walk from the bottom of Jamarat al-Aqaba onto level two where they completed their pelting.

“No incidents were reported yesterday when we pelted the big jamarat, at about 11am,” he added.

The group subsequently returned to their hotels to refresh themselves, to ensure that the qurbaan was completed and to shave their hair as a conclusion to the state of ihram.

“Last night, I went to perform my Tawaaf al-Ziyara at about 9 o clock, it took about 3 hours and was very peaceful; no pushing or shoving around the Kabah. There was also a large crowd doing the Sa’i between the hills of Safah and Marwa.”

Given the fact the hujjaaj during Eid celebrations concentrate on their ‘ibadah, Abramjee reported that the locals appeared to be having a very joyous Eid.

Meanwhile, journalist and VOC radio presenter, Yazeed Kamaldien shared his experience of haj, as captured in the capacity of a journalist.

Describing the day of Arafat as beautiful, he says that it was amazing to see thousands of hujjaaj assemble in one area for the annual event.

While hujjaaj are given the option of shaving their hair completely or cutting a lock of hair to exit the state of ihram, he says that he chose to remove all his hair as most male hujjaaj do.

As South African hujjaaj celebrated Eid with family and friends, sharing in numerous traditional meals, Kamaldien says that the hujjaaj are for the most part divorced from the celebratory atmosphere and are instead immersed in their ibadah and completing each of the rituals.

“The first day of Eid was in Mina. It is a much simpler Eid, there are no fancy cakes – there is basically nothing,” he noted.

Kamaldien explains that in comparison to previous years, he has noticed considerable improvement at each leg of Haj 2016.

“There was [previously] a lot of pushing and shoving and last year there was a stampede in which many people died.”

He says that during this year’s haj, the only noticeable shoving was experienced on the plains of Arafat, where crowds converged at Jabal Rahma in the hopes of experiencing the waqt of wuquf [time of standing] atop the same mountain that the Nabi (may peace be upon him) stood during his Haj al-Wida.

“At some point you are just stuck in a crowd, because everyone is rushing to the next point and at some points you get a bottleneck. In the rush to not lose their groups, people push through while holding hands,” Kamaldien continued.

With the final round of pelting commencing on Wednesday, Haj 2016 is soon to come to a close with the completion of Tawaaf al-Wida, which is the farewell circumambulation of the ka’bah that is performed prior to one’s departure home.

The first flight of returning hujjaaj is expected to touch down at O.R International on Saturday, September 17, 2016.


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