As thousands of South African hujjaj return home and arrive at their respective airports, family members of the pilgrims have complained about the strict regulations in place to control the movements of well-wishers at the airport. The hajj regulator insists that such protocols are necessary and urges all Muslims to act with the highest levels of decorum when receiving Hujjaj.
South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) first deputy president, Shaheen Essop says that while they understand the intensity of emotions during this time, Muslims need to express that excitement appropriately and considerately. Essop also explained that Sahuc doesn’t have the final say in matters relating to airport control and protocols.
“People need to understand that not only South African Hujjaj are utilising the airport,” said Essop.
“We’ve been given the opportunity to be present at the airport to ensure that reasonable processes and structures are upheld but we don’t do this on our own whims and fancies. Sahuc doesn’t restrict people based on Sahuc’s decisions – we are informed by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and this doesn’t only happen in Cape Town…There are strict protocols to be observed.”
“There is a great amount of both anxiety and excitement for the returning Hujjaj but one has to find a medium by which we can do this in a good way.”
Essop further explained that Muslims need to act in a manner that is befitting of the Hajj pilgrimage, of the teachings of the Nabi Muhammad (SAW) and of Islam. He indicated that how Muslims are perceived in these international settings is important.
“Another factor you need to consider is that if there’s going to be any rowdiness or unusual behaviour, people using the airport are going to look upon us and say, ‘Is this how Muslims behave?’.”
“We need to show them that we can behave and conduct ourselves with the highest decorum, as shown to us by our beloved Nabi SAW. Hajj is a religious journey people have taken and we must act according to that journey. Don’t misunderstand us – we understand the excitement and anxiety but we need to be a bit more considerate about other people.”
A minimum of 95 percent of returning hujjaj are expected to arrive by 24 August, as the last of the larger groups of returning hajjis are expected to arrive on this day. The last large group will be followed by smaller groups of two, three and four.
According to Sahuc, the very last pilgrim will leave the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 28 August.