By Tasneem Adams
This year’s hajj accreditation list could be released as early as mid-February. This is according to the president of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc), Maulana Muhammad Vaid, as he unpacked the preparations for Hajj 1440 on VOC Breakfast Beat on Friday.
Sahuc has the arduous task of dealing with 23 000 first time applicants in the queue, who will have to wait years before they can perform their fardh hajj. While it’s frustrating for those longing to perform the sacred rites, Vaid says there’s very little room to move within South Africa’s small quota.
In the meantime, Sahuc is in the process of an external verification process to ensure the system is transparent, the accreditation of the hajj operators to have their travel packages ready in time, the finalisation of the quota and the pricing of the five days of haj.
“We endeavour to synchronise all these processes and Inshallah, by mid-February, we hope to release the first accreditation list,” he said.
South Africa’s quota
There is still no certainty on the quota for this year’s hajj. Only until Sahuc’s protocol team visits the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and protocol signing has taken place, will the quota be revealed.
Following much negotiation with authorities, 3500 South African hujjaj were allowed to perform hajj last year, a small increment from the standard 2500 of the past few years.
“The authorities have a responsibility to host millions of Muslims, who are the guests of Allah SWT. Many logistical measures must be put in place and planning for hajj begins after the end of the last hajj period,” said Vaid.
“We fit into a global ummah and we cannot display a sense of entitlement. For the forthcoming hajj, Indonesia has a quota for 220 000 and the waiting list for that country is up to 15 years. The Saudi authorities must have some system in place to facilitate this major event of hajj. Our community needs to understand that the quota and the entire process makes it easy for logistics to be provided at its optimum.”
In the past few months, Sahuc has displayed a registration list on its website to give an indication to prospective applicants of their position in the queue to assist with forward planning. The list is dynamic and is affected by a number of factors such as marriage, divorce or death. Currently, the list has been taken off the website and will go through a verification process in preparation for the release of the accreditation list for Hajj1440.
The criterion for applicants
- You must be a first-time applicant and includes persons applying for the forthcoming year
- You must have 100 points
The verification process authorises any changes made to an application and to detect any “human interference” to the system. The external process verifies that all changes made to the applications are in line with the policies and framework set out by Sahuc.
Any applicant with no access to the internet can walk into the Sahuc office to apply. Currently the list is not available on the site, as the accreditation process is underway.
Sahuc also has to contend with the headache of cancellations of accreditation. Cancellations become deferrals and Sahuc can fill the space with first-time applicants next in the queue.
“When you are accredited you have the option of accepting or deferring the accreditation. People often delay accepting the accreditation, sometimes past the deadline. This puts strain on the process and has an effect on the person next in the queue. Sahuc has the right to cancel that accreditation with a forfeiting of 30 points.”
Listen to the interview here:
With the small quota for South Africa and the increase of first time hujjaj, it is almost impossible to consider repeat hujjaj for another opportunity to perform hajj. The only exception is made for those who serve as a mahram for a female performing hajj for the first time. There are currently 23 000 first time applicants in the queue.
Asked whether exceptions can be made for applicants with terminal illnesses, Vaid said Sahuc’s national general council has adopted a policy that no ill person’s application can be fast-tracked, as this would prejudice other applicants.
“While the natural disposition is that of leniency and compassion, there has to be framework in which we operate. Based on this, we cannot bump someone in the queue, because of illness,” he explained.
“There is a flipside argument and that is that the primary condition for the compulsion of hajj is that he must have Istita’ah (capacity) – they must be in good health to undertake the journey. If someone is ill and has been accredited, we will not dissuade him, as that is his or her own decision. But illness does not give us justification to accede to an appeal to push someone in the queue, while others wait. These conditions are all in the hands of Allah SWT.”
Vaid said they have received an extensive number of these requests, adding that Sahuc’s policies are reviewed on an ongoing basis.
Sahuc’s hajj mission serves as logistical support to hujjaj and a liaison between Ministry of Hajj, the Muassasa, hujjaj and operators to facilitate easy movement of the hujjaj to different points in the holy cities. The team includes medical staff, which provide primary health care services in Makkah and Madina. Every country must provide primary health care for their hujjaj and field workers assist in logistics to ensure the pilgrims’ comfort during their stay.
A mission worker is accepted if they have already performed the hajj. They enter into a code of conduct with Sahuc and are not allowed to perform hajj during the mission. This is so they cannot be distracted from their responsibilities while on the mission. The average time for travel for the Sahuc mission is 5 – 8 weeks and medical staff will be away for 4 weeks.
The mission applications closed on Thursday 31st January and the applicants will be shortlisted and go through a screening process. This will be followed by an interview and then the selection process.
Sahuc allows for 80% of volunteers who have past experience as a mission worker and 20% who can learn on the job. The mission consists of doctors and nursing staff who must ensure they are registered and compliant with the Ministry of Health. The medical mission will visit clinics on a regular basis and see whether services are being provided as set out by the ministry of Health.
Sahuc receives an overwhelming response of applicants each year and they have had a strong contingent of volunteers over the years. The mission’s staff are covered in terms of travel and accommodation expenses and a stipend is also provided. Those who have applied for the mission will be notified in the coming weeks.
Sahuc’s annual national roadshow kicks off on the 16th February in Gauteng. The first roadshow will provide vital information on a range of issues, such as contracting with operators and the haj accreditation process. This will be followed by another roadshow for accredited hujjaj.
The first dates are as follows:
Gauteng – Image Lifestyle Conference centre
Saturday 16 Feb
Time: 2h30 pm
Kwazulu Natal – Al Ansaar Hall Overport
Sunday 17 Feb
Western Cape – Athlone Civic Centre
Saturday 23 Feb
Port Elizabeth – Muslim Movement Hall, Parkside
Sunday 24th February
Time: 9h00 am