Monday, November 8, 2010

Giant step, whoa

Today, 4 members of my family are making their way to Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage. For those who are unfamiliar, the hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage that every Muslim who can afford it is obligated to undertake between the 8th to the 12th of Zulhijjah (the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar).

Not very many young Muslims think about going for hajj; to them, it is only something to contemplate when they are past forty. Heck, I myself am only thinking of the pilgrimage in abstract, academic terms. I only know that I want to go any season but summer (cos it's hot as heck in Saudi in summer, yo).

From what I've heard from those who had gone for it, it is a physically and mentally challenging journey but most rewarding spiritually. But I really love what this guy have to say about going for the hajj.



Good journey, my dears. May your hajj be mabrukh!

8 comments:

Angela Gripesalot said...

god speed and god bless!

khairul h. said...

I haven't even registered with Tabung Haji yet! Kept putting it off.

Must. Register. Soon.

Snuze said...

Angela: Thank you! My aunt texted my cousin that they have arrived in Jeddah safely. Hopefully all goes swimmingly well!

Khairul: Go on. Do eet. You know you want to. *grin*

My niece registered last year; she was told that her turn will be up in 2025. Like, wow. And that is with enough funds to go.

Angela Gripesalot said...

wait... you have to wait your turn and be called up for it? is that why the ppl who go are mostly old??? what [rude language] is this?!

khairul h. said...

Angela: well, we can go by ourselves to Mecca but we'll have to everything ourselves as well (visas, accommodation, food, ect etc).

If we register with the Tabung Haji (Hajj Fund) they'll take care of everything. They'll even train the pilgrims how and what to do once there, food & accommodation taken care of, in short they'll handle everything.

However, if we go through them we have to wait for our names to be called up because Saudi Arabia only allows 1% of a country's Muslim population to go to Hajj.

This bureaucracy never existed in the time of the Prophet of course. Visa? Passport? What's that?

Angela Gripesalot said...

Khairul: thanks for the clarification. Bureaucracy is just another way governments make money, methinks :)

going by what you said though, wouldn't the presence of self-funded pilgrims exceed a country's 1% allowance, or does Saudi Arabia combine both types of pilgrims? Guess there's just no way around some things.

khairul h. said...

Self-funded pilgrims are mostly from non-Muslim countries esp. from Europe and the Americas. Their numbers are small, often times they don't even fill up the 1% quota.

Snuze said...

Angela: We have the Tabung Haji who makes the arrangements for the Malaysian pilgrims as well as serve as a funding body for pilgrimage purpose. 40 years ago, only the very wealthy gets to go; cos it takes up to 6 months of travel by sea. Ordinary folks do not get the chance because they can't afford it financially or time-wise.

The Tabung Haji takes the savings of would-be pilgrims and invest it. The annual return is quite modest but still substantial. Kind of life mutual fund, but backed by the government. They actually ask if you mind a portion of your dividend to be used to support less well-off pilgrims, so you get to do some charity as well.

I am not sure about the numbers in Malaysia, but I think we hit the quota Khairul mentioned, thanks to Tabung Haji. Those who apply to go also include those who have gone before (ie taking their 2nd, 3rd etc pilgrimage), so competition is pretty tight.

The Malaysian system of hajj management has been recognised to be a good one and has been copied by other countries such as Indonesia and Brunei. Our pilgrims are well taken care of, they get health care, guaranteed shelter and food during the stay at Arafah and Mina (which are basically just barren desert) and they get all this for the minimal sum of RM 10K. Not bad for a whole month stay, no?