MAKKAH: With tears yet an overwhelming sense of joy, Chinese national Ahmed Al-Seeny donned his white Ihram robes with pride and headed to Makkah to perform his first Hajj.
“This year marks the first year having Hajj applications after the pandemic and, as a young Muslim, I wanted to complete the fifth pillar as Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said, ‘Whoever wants to perform Hajj should hurry,’” he told Arab News.
Al-Seeny is a Chinese expat who lives and studies in Madinah, majoring in Islamic studies at the Islamic University of Madinah.
“When I heard that my name was picked to be one of the luckiest people to perform Hajj, I broke down in tears. I was really happy to be here, and I heard that the organizing of the place and the campaigns are better than the years before.”
Arab News met Al-Seeny in Mina on July 7, the first day of pilgrims starting their Hajj journey. They stay the night in Mina to pray and follow in the prophet’s steps.
People smell different aromas upon entering Mina, such as delicious spices when passing by the South Asia section. Each Hajj campaign is eager to serve pilgrims the dishes they are used to eating in their home country.
Arab News spotted some pilgrims enjoying the weather and eating snacks on a Mina sidewalk, a husband and wife from South Africa.
“My husband and I applied for Hajj in 2016, and we got accepted for this year, so there is a long waiting list in South Africa, so thank God for the blessing,” Khadija told Arab News.
“Everything is very well organized and even booking for the package was very easy, as we paid for everything in advance online and we only had to come here to do the ritual. It’s more comfortable and easier than how our parents did it, so we are grateful,” the couple added.
Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said this year's Hajj season would accommodate 1 million pilgrims while ensuring their safety and the quality of services, despite the ongoing presence of COVID-19.