As South African hujjaj return to their lives, concerns relating to the difficulties experienced by elderly hujjaj this year have been a source of great discontent. Speaking to VOC, imam of Masjid al-Quds and hajj spiritual leader Shaykh Abdurahman Alexander said the hajj is a spiritual journey that requires arduous physical exertion. The shaykh has made a plea for a ruling to be implemented that would ensure that elderly hujjaj be accompanied by a relative who is dedicated to assisting the respective haji.
“As much as the haj is a spiritual journey and people are spiritually motivated by the ulama, this spirit can be broken if things are not facilitated properly,” he told VOC Burning Issue this week.
He further notes the work conducted by spiritual leaders who ensure that hujjaaj maximize the journey to the holy lands.
“I must say that I salute each and every operator, they are doing sterling work. Because hajj is a spiritual journey, every operator has with them spiritual leaders. We have the likes of great ulama.”
The shaykh says that hujjaj over the age of 70 are unable to effectively enjoy their stay in the holy lands if their needs are not adequately catered to.
“The very first Friday that I was back from hajj I made a very passionate plea from the mimbar of Masjid al-Quds and Sahuc that they should take one thing into consideration; they should encourage the broader South African community not [to allow] old people to go alone on this journey.”
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He asserts that prospective hujjaj need to adequately understand the strenuous nature of the journey of haj, inclusive of the physical requirements that is needed to ensure an enjoyable experience.
Given the fact that each operator is allowed one assistant per 50 hujjaj, Alexander said operators are unable to effectively address the special needs of an entire group.
“You have to take some people to hospital, to the clinic, to Sahuc doctors, and you must see to the needs to various hujjaj. We are trying to achieve mission impossible.”
The president of the South African Tourism Hajj Operators Association’s (Sathoa) Adam Jainodien explains that while operators did experience challenges with regards to the comfort of hujjaj, generally speaking, the services provided were acceptable.
“Unfortunately, it sometimes is circumstantial that these things do arise from time to time. But, generally, [given] the bomb blast that we had during the month Ramadan and the security threat within the Kingdom, I think there was a high presence of security forces.
“I don’t think I felt uneasy about the fact that there wasn’t sufficient security.”
He adds that the transition through the airports, with some 90 per cent of landings in the City of Madina, was well handled. VOC 91.3fm