The South African Haj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) held its annual roadshow at the Athlone Civic Centre on Saturday, which saw thousands of hopeful hujaaj in attendance. The event aims to educate and inform potential hujaaj of the do’s and don’ts and what they can expect when on haj. The event takes place in the Western Cape, Gauteng, and KZN.
In the early hours of the morning, locals came streaming through the gates in hopes of getting valuable information in their preparation for hajj. While not all in attendance are set to depart for hajj this year, others attended to reminisce with friends and loved ones of their travels in the Holy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and offered a word of advice for hopefuls .
“This is our third year at the event, SAHUC has definitely improved in organising. People from SAHUC are so helpful. They take the time to answer all of our questions. My wife and I completed our haj last year but just being here in this setting really make us want to make that journey again,” Amien Orrie told VOC.
The event seemed to be a setting much like those in Madinah. The white Marquee for shade and an offering of dates and Zam Zam water to guests, all coming together to give visitors a sense of the atmosphere when on haj. SAHUC Executive Member, Mustapha Murudker says that the annual event highlights the important factors that make the journey as a smooth as possible regarding logistical arrangements.
“The purpose of this road show is to inform hujaj of our responsibilities in the Kingdom when they travel for haj as well as educating them on the medical assistance available during their journey. Hujaaj go to classes to learn the Manaasik of haj, which is not where we get involved. We use this road show to interact with people and offer some understanding of the registering process for haj as well as where they stand on the waiting list. Most importantly, money concerns regarding the exchange rate is also one of the many questions we are asked about. We want hujaaj to be as prepared as they can when it comes to the practical side of their haj,” Murudker explained.
A number of local haj operators set up displays for potential hujaaj and displayed their packages for the upcoming haj season. Visitors had the opportunity to interact with experienced operators to discuss any and all questions regarding travel options. Meanwhile, preparing for his first haj, Shaheen Van Elson says the atmosphere at the event was bitter sweet as excitement mounted for the most important journey in Islam.
“The travel operators have been so helpful. When we got here I felt overwhelmed as the reality is beginning to set in. It is a feeling unlike any other to know that Allah has now called you to make this journey. This event has really helped me and my family as we make our preparations for haj,” Van Elson said.
Meanwhile, a visibly emotional 69-year-old, Rushda Lakey travelled from Worcester to make the event and told VOC she has never been on haj. Lakey explained that due to a lack of funding, the trip never became a reality for her. A tearful Lakey said that attending the event allows her to feel that even though money is not readily available for her travels, when her time comes, she will be ready.
For more information on haj related matters, visit www.sahuchajjregistry.org.za.
VOC (Raeesah Isaacs)