Hajj 2022: Taking with you the best provisions
May 26, 2022
– agency report
“On Sunday, April 17, 2022, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria received an official confirmation from the Saudi Arabian Ministry for Hajj that there will be Hajj 2022. We also received the 2022 Hajj allocation to Nigeria which is 43,008.’’(Zikrullah Hassan, Chairman/CEO, NAHCON)
This was the news that Muslims across the globe have been waiting for since 2020 when COVID-19 pandemic led to the lockdown of the world and thereby affecting the yearly Islamic ritual of pilgrimage.
It was certainly an unprecedented period that disrupted the annual Hajj and Umrah (lesser Hajj) for the two consecutive years. However, with the approval for the Umrah this year, the stage was set for the conduct of Hajj 2022.
What is Hajj in Islam?
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam after the Shahada, Salat, Fasting and Zakat. It is obligatory on all Muslims who possess the means to undertake the journey once in their life time.
The annual pilgrimage serves as a unifying force in Islam, bringing together Muslims of various backgrounds from across the world to the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madina for the religious celebration. Part of the gains of Hajj, is that Allah wipes away the sins of those who sincerely observe all the religious rites associated with the pilgrimage.
It is a physically demanding journey that allows pilgrims to deepen their faith. Hajj cleanses the soul, bringing purity, hope and renewal. By strengthening individual faith, it also strengthens the unity of all followers of Islam.
The wearing of the Ihram clothing during the Hajj symbolises the oneness of the faithful, irrespective of class, background and orientation. It minimizes differences between Muslims of different nationalities and social classes.
Obligations on pilgrims performing the Hajj
There are very clear instructions in the Quran and Hadiths of the Holy Prophet about the obligations pilgrims must observe during the Hajj for them to be counted as having observed Hajj Mabrur.
‘’Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.(Al-Imran:97)
“And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways;(Hajj:27)
These verses from the Quran indicate that Hajj is a journey and definitely, a journey requires sustenance for the performer. The best of such sustenance is being described as having Taqwa: an Islamic term for being conscious and cognizant of God, of truth, piety, and fear of God.
Since the announcement for the performance of the 2022 Hajj, the body responsible for the coordination of Hajj in Nigeria, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has been engaged in a number of preparatory activities both in Nigeria and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a smooth conduct of the rites by Nigerian Muslims in accordance to international best practices.
It is instructive to note that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had instructed Nigeria, and other participating countries, to enter contract agreement with selected service providers responsible for accommodation, catering, and transportation, latest by 15th of Shawwal 1443 equivalent to 16th May 2022.
To beat the deadline, NAHCON placed regulatory advertisement in Saudi Arabian newspaper calling for expression of interest in these fields with a deadline for submission that expired April 30.
The commission has been undertaking the screening and inspection of Service Providers’ documents and facilities in Saudi Arabia. The screening criteria for eligibility to be engaged in catering services include current partnership arrangement with a Nigerian caterer, having experience in feeding of Nigerian pilgrims, five years’ experience in the feeding field, proximity of kitchen to pilgrims’ accommodation, staff capacity, industrial facilities available, mobility, and tax clearance.
In the case of accommodation, the building must be duly licensed with evidence of tax clearance and be in conformity with Saudi Arabian standards. The commission will also consider the distance from the Haram, whether it has well equipped dining area, adequate elevator facilities, and more.
The chairman of NAHCON and other management staff had also met with various stakeholders for collaboration to beat the deadline and ensure a seamless Hajj 2022. Among those the commission met with were the officials of Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation, and Service Providers at Jeddah and Makkah, respectively. NAHCON has also inaugurated the 2022 Hajj Carriers and Cargo companies; held a 3-day de-briefing of 2019 Hajj Operation and met with officials of Flynas, an airline, in Makkah.
With these preparations, Nigerian pilgrims should have no fear as the Federal Government through NAHCON has put in place measures for the comfort of all pilgrims. They should also have the trust and confidence that achieving a successful Hajj requires full cooperation with the NAHCON and other stakeholders involved in the operations.
Indeed, part of the Taqwa expected of pilgrims, is that they must not disobey constituted authority, or hinder any official in the performance of theie duties. The issue of trusting Hajj officials is paramount to a successful Hajj. Pilgrims must, therefore, persevere, be patient and tolerant in order to have an acceptable Hajj.
A successful Hajj involves all stakeholders; the pilgrims, NAHCON, the air carriers as well as other ancillary service providers. Hajj is answering the call of Allah, as such all pilgrims, must discharge their responsibilities diligently at every stage. It earns rewards from Allah. It is the greatest sustenance all pilgrimss must have for the smooth conduct of Hajj 2022. (NAN)
By Ismail AbdulAziz