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Sahuc gets flack

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The absence of the South African Haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) at the World Hajj and Umrah Convention in Cape Town sparked concern amongst VOC listeners on Tuesday, who questioned why the regulator did not attend. Following an interview with Sahuc president Shaheen Essop, numerous listeners called in to have their say on the regulator’s no-show at the event. Some said Sahuc’s decision not to attend the forum suggested they do not have the best interest of the hujjaj at heart.

One caller highlighted a previous interview with a member of the Hajj People, who organised the event, in which they stated that Sahuc would be invited to the event.

He also warned listeners against calling for Sahuc’s involvement in the umrah fraternity, due to fear that it may lead to price hikes and potentially a quota system within the umrah sector as well.

“I think what people need to understand is that they need to select the proper operator. They need to make sure the operator has accreditation from the haj ministry to operate as an umrah operator, because what is happening is that some of the smaller operators are relying on the bigger guys to issue visas for them,” he asserted.

These sentiments were shared by another caller, who said Sahuc needed to avoid getting involved with umrah because they were not doing a good job where the haj was concerned. He suggested Sahuc do research on how other countries were handling the haj sector, and try to incorporate their successes into the South African system.

“They are not doing enough in order to promote and get a more positive experience for our hujjaj. I also think Sahuc were invited, because why would this organisation come to South Africa and not invite Sahuc as the official haj regulator,” said the listener.

One of VOC’s more regular callers, known simply as Boeta Ismail, suggested the haj industry in its current state was based on commercialisation of the pilgrimage. He said the reasons behind the haj, and why people undertook the journey, was never discussed, apart from by the scholars and ulama.

“In the old days the people used to go on haj with the boat, and it was a really spiritual experience, it was like the ultimate destination you were going to. Today it is just a commercialised thing; we must go back to the roots of why we are actually going for haj,” he said.

Another caller also suggested that, had Sahuc really had the best interest of the community at heart, they would have made the effort to enquire why they were not invited, instead of using the excuse that they were not invited.

“Even myself, someone not part of the industry, knew about the event happening in Cape Town. If they really had our interest at heart, this is not an acceptable excuse,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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