With the annual haj pilgrimage fast approaching, many hujjaj have begun moving away from the holy city of Makkah towards the area of Azizia, with the hopes of spending a few days to mentally and physically prepare for the rigorous journey ahead.
Pilgrims from all corners of the globe have slowly made their way into the holy cities over the past few weeks, with estimates suggesting that more than 1 million hujjaj have already arrived in the Saudi Kingdom. As a result of expected congestion in Makkah over the next few days, many hujjaj have opted to move to Azizia on the outskirts of the city.
Amongst those to have undertaken the journey is Radio Islam presenter, Mufti Yusuf Moosagie, who described the atmosphere amongst the South African contingent as incredibly excellent. However, he admitted that there was a strong sense of sadness amongst pilgrims at having to leave the holy city.
“In that sense people feel slightly depressed, and saddened by the fact that they have to move away from the Baitullah, even though it is not that far away. After having spent such a long period of time, and having become attached and drawn to the spirituality of it, it is always difficult to move,” he said.
According to him, this would now provide hujjaj the chance to reflect, prepare, and acquaint themselves with the finer details of how the days of haj would unfold. It would also allow them to physically prepare for the approaching journey.
Part of the congestion has been caused by major ongoing constructions taking place in Makkah. As a result, 40% of the Haram has not been made available for the use of pilgrims. This was leading to many hujjaj being forced to perform salah outside the Masjid itself.
“This entire influx of 1 million hujjaj is being cramped into 60% of the capacity of the Haram, and you can imagine how cramped and crowded it is,” he explained.
Pilgrims have since been urged to come to the mosque up to an hour before each prayer, to avoid missing out on space. Moosajie noted that with Jumuah approaching, hujjaj were being advised to enter the Haram as early as 09:00am.
Despite the issues, he insisted that everything was falling into place with only a few minor hiccups being noted.
“There will be small difficulties and challenges, but that is the nature of journey,” he said.”
Hajj 1435 is expected to take place between the 2nd and 6th October. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)