Jordan’s crown prince performs Umrah

Jordan’s crown prince performs Umrah
Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah performing Umrah in Makkah. (Instagram/@alhussein)
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Updated 18 March 2024
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Jordan’s crown prince performs Umrah

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah performs Umrah in Makkah.
  • He was joined by a diverse group of the Jordanian Armed Forces, young entrepreneurs, activists, athletes

RIYADH: Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah on Monday performed Umrah, the minor pilgrimage to Makkah.

He also performed prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Jordan News Agency reported.

Accompanying him were notable figures including Prince Omar bin Faisal, Prince Nayef bin Asem, and Prince Rakan bin Mired.

He was also joined by a diverse group comprising members of the Jordanian Armed Forces, young entrepreneurs, activists, athletes, and media professionals. They shared in the spiritual journey and also gathered for iftar, the meal to break the fast during Ramadan.


Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season

Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season
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Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season

Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season
  • Hajj invites millions to the holy city where locals show deep-rooted Saudi hospitality

RIYADH: During the sacred days of Hajj, Makkah witnesses an influx of pilgrims and locals themselves engage more fervently in Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting.

Sami Al-Alwani, a local citizen, enjoys the spiritual aspects of the pilgrimage and says the Hajj season is unlike any other month.

“This annual tradition of welcoming, joy and enthusiasm with which we receive the pilgrims of the House of God is passed down from generation to generation,” he told Arab News.

Muttawwif Wejdan Buqas with Malaysian pilgrims after Hajj. (Supplied)

The arrival of pilgrims also means a peak in economic activity and boost for local employment.

Al-Alwani added: “One significant economic aspect we notice is the full occupancy of hotels, leading to a noticeable economic boost in restaurants and services.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Locals of Makkah, including young men and women, volunteer through available programs to assist and guide pilgrims.

• The sacred time of Hajj also brings forth the deep- rooted compassion and friendliness that are hallmarks of the people of Makkah.

“We have numerous job opportunities during Hajj to assist pilgrims and work with them in Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and the train station. We also serve as their supervisors and assist them in completing their Hajj obligations. Many volunteers, including young men and women from Makkah, participate voluntarily through available programs.”

Residents of Makkah have historically played a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform Hajj. (Supplied)

Al-Alwani added pilgrimage routes and traffic patterns in recent years had had no negative effects for Makkah’s population.

Wejdan Buqas is a female mutawwif — someone who leads pilgrims in the traditional rites and prayers of Hajj and Umrah — who says she used to offer to drive people to Mount Hira and other holy locations.

“Back in the 1980s, we used to greet pilgrims, let them stay in our homes, and transport them to the Al-Tanaim Mosque, Al-Maala Cemeteries, and Hira Mountain. We used to also take them to private, tiny museums that highlighted Makkah inhabitants’ customs, such as telling them about our Eid celebrations,” she said, adding such activities were now streamlined by the government.

Due to the high volume of pilgrims, nearby companies and service providers were set up to meet their needs by providing lodgings, transportation, medical care, and guidance. The sacred time of Hajj also brings forth the deep-rooted compassion and friendliness that are hallmarks of the people of Makkah.

Bakur Hemdi is a Makkah native from a long lineage of muttawifs, including his grandfather and father. He followed in their footsteps and took up the role when he was 21 years old.

“As a mutawwif, my role goes beyond just guiding the pilgrims through the rituals and ceremonies of Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

“I’m a cultural ambassador, helping them navigate the intricacies of Makkah’s landscape and ensuring they can fully immerse themselves in the spiritual journey they’ve come to undertake.”

He added: “Through my interactions with pilgrims from diverse backgrounds, I've gained a deep appreciation for the richness of their traditions and the shared devotion that unites them in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. I take great pride in upholding the legacy of my ancestors, while also adapting to the evolving needs of modern-day pilgrims.”   

Hayat Eid, who also comes from a family of mutawwifs, said everyone in Makkah mostly worked during Hajj or, if not, they traveled.

“We make a profit of a whole year during Hajj season, so many people will not miss that opportunity,” she said. “We also remark to each other, ‘Hajj wala dajj?’ which translates to ‘Are you working in Hajj or are you fleeing?’ which is a humorous statement.”  

She added many women participated by preparing treats like maamoul cookies and date cakes to share during Eid.

Every activity contributes to the Hajj season, a time of great spiritual significance and community engagement for the residents of Makkah who play a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform this important religious duty.

 


Hajj: An odyssey of faith and personal growth

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Updated 50 sec ago
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Hajj: An odyssey of faith and personal growth

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah
  • Pilgrimage fosters spiritual renewal, community bonds, experts say

MAKKAH: The journey of Hajj, representing the fulfillment of the fifth pillar of Islam, is a chance for personal transformation, fostering patience, resilience, endurance, solidarity and cooperation.

These virtues can positively impact an individual’s life long after completing the pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Before arriving in Saudi Arabia, many pilgrims sell valuable possessions such as properties and homes to fulfill this obligatory act of worship, which Muslims must perform if they are able.

Abeer Al-Jasser, a Syrian pilgrim from Deir Ezzor, said that she has waited many years to perform Hajj. She highlighted her commitment to fulfilling all Hajj rituals meticulously, hoping to emerge with renewed vigor and a new outlook on life.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

She described the pilgrimage as an exceptional spiritual opportunity that enhances closeness to God, increasing faith and providing tranquility and peace. “Performing the rituals is seen as a chance to purify oneself from sins, offering psychological relief and freedom from past burdens.

“The sight of Muslims in white attire, symbolizing equality and unity, brings comfort and peace. Witnessing this profound sense of brotherhood, with people from all over the world united for one purpose, is a deeply moving experience,” Al-Jasser said.

Witnessing this profound sense of brotherhood, with people from all over the world united for one purpose, is a deeply moving experience.

Abeer Al-Jasser, Syrian Hajj pilgrim

She added that Hajj has numerous positive effects on health, family and community, and it encourages self-assessment and goal-setting, aiding personal growth and decision-making.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“The pilgrimage also teaches the spirit of cooperation, helping others, and respecting and valuing others, fostering humility and discouraging selfishness,” she added.

Pilgrims may experience deep inner peace and satisfaction after completing the ritual — feelings that can last long after returning home, she said.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

For many, Hajj is not just a religious duty, but a also psychological journey that restores balance and enhances well-being. Psychological consultant Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani told Arab News about the positive psychological impacts of Hajj, describing it as a road map for Muslims to reassess their relationships with God, their community and their families.

The pilgrimage offers a historical opportunity for “spiritual healing and conscience cleansing,” he said.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Although pilgrims may be physically exhausted from the journey, Hajj provides a form of “psychological cleansing that momentarily frees them from worldly concerns,” Al-Zahrani added.

“Facing the challenges of travel and performing rituals in potentially difficult conditions teaches patience and resilience, which positively influence daily life. Moreover, the values of cooperation and solidarity learned during Hajj are significant,” he said.

'This journey can also help heal emotional and psychological wounds, with sacred sites and religious rituals providing solace and healing'. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Religious rituals such as standing at Arafat offer pilgrims a chance for deep reflection, potentially leading to fundamental changes in their mindset and life perspective,” Al-Zahrani said.

“Witnessing and appreciating the hardships faced by others can deepen the pilgrims’ gratitude for what they have, and participating in Hajj with a diverse group of Muslims fosters mutual understanding and cultural tolerance, building bridges of respect and brotherhood.

'This journey can also help heal emotional and psychological wounds, with sacred sites and religious rituals providing solace and healing'. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“This journey can also help heal emotional and psychological wounds, with sacred sites and religious rituals providing solace and healing.”

Psychologist Ahmed Al-Zamel told Arab News that many pilgrims return from Hajj a strong intention to improve their behavior and align their lives more closely with religious and ethical teachings.

“The experience of standing in holy places and contemplating life and death instills deep humility and reverence for God, enhancing individual spirituality,” he said.

The Hajj pilgrimage may also strengthen family bonds, as many pilgrims perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories and strengthening family ties,” he added.

“Pilgrims often experience inner peace after completing the pilgrimage, learning forgiveness and compassion, and enhancing personal and social relationships.”

Mutawwif Nader Osama described Hajj as an inspirational spiritual journey. “Upon returning, pilgrims often have a positive impact on their communities, inspiring others with the positive changes they have made in their lives and encouraging them to improve their behavior and actions,” he said.

Many pilgrims turn to charitable work and helping others, driven by the values instilled during the pilgrimage, he added.

“Their experiences of equality and unity among people of different races and nationalities during the pilgrimage encourage them to appreciate and celebrate the human values consistently promoted by Islam,” Osama added.

 

 


Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home

Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home
Updated 18 June 2024
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Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home

Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home
  • More than 1.8m have performed Hajj this year

MINA: Hundreds of thousands of this year’s total of more than 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early on Tuesday morning before preparing for the return home.

Many began stoning the pillars in Mina at noon on Tuesday and then headed to the Grand Mosque to perform the final ritual of circumambulating the Kaaba seven times, known as Tawaf Al-Wadaa, concluding their pilgrimage.

However, those who remain in Mina until sunset on the second day of Tashreeq are required by Islamic teachings to stay for a third day before leaving Makkah.

Speaking to Arab News, Aminatu Haruna, a Nigerian pilgrim, said she will be leaving Makkah on Tuesday to return to her homeland after completing Hajj with her two children.

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Talking about the services provided to pilgrims, she said: “All I can say is Alhamdulillah (thank God).

“The Saudi government is really trained, and we have seen so many improvements. They introduced electric cars and scooters. Of course, all the officials, when I stopped to ask them, were always there to help.”

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Doran Ahmed and Gina Amin, an Iraqi Kurd couple, were also planning to leave Mina on the same day after fulfilling the stoning ritual.

Ahmed and Amin expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for preparing Hajj in a “great and seamless way, without any problems.”

They told Arab News: “Today, we bid farewell to this blessed land.”

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Many pilgrims, after completing their farewell tawaf, journey to Madinah to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque and visit the city’s numerous Islamic landmarks.

Security staff and Hajj and health officials have confirmed that all their plans were successfully carried out, and no pandemic diseases were recorded.

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, more than 170,000 personnel have served the 1,833,164 pilgrims who performed Hajj this year. Of these, more than 1.61 million came from over 200 countries worldwide.

About 40 million bottles of Zamzam water had been served to pilgrims up to Monday, while 300 food supply contractors had provided 9 million daily meals.

Caption

Meanwhile, the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque had been preparing to welcome pilgrims arriving to perform the farewell tawaf to complete their Hajj rituals.

A comprehensive package of services had been prepared, including guidance, field awareness, educational lessons, initiatives, and enriching religious activities for pilgrims, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

The Haramain Presidency has painted white more than 11,000 sq. meters of the areas adjacent to the Grand Mosque, using materials which help to reduce the temperature at the site for pilgrims.

This fast-drying chemical can be used both indoors and outdoors, on asphalt or concrete surfaces. The paint used at the mosque reflects sunlight and mitigates the effects of climate change, helping to provide a more comfortable environment for waiting, walking, and gathering.

The temperature in Makkah and Mina reduced from nearly 49 C to 38 C on Tuesday morning, according to a report by the National Center for Meteorology.

 


Islamic affairs ministry starts distributing over 1.8 million copies of Qur’an to departing Hajj pilgrims

Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance has started distributing 1,879,352 copies of the holy Qur’an to pilgrims.
Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance has started distributing 1,879,352 copies of the holy Qur’an to pilgrims.
Updated 18 June 2024
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Islamic affairs ministry starts distributing over 1.8 million copies of Qur’an to departing Hajj pilgrims

Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance has started distributing 1,879,352 copies of the holy Qur’an to pilgrims.
  • The copies, printed by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an, are available in various sizes

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance has started distributing 1,879,352 copies of the holy Qur’an to departing Hajj pilgrims, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The copies, printed by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an, are available in various sizes.

Translations of the holy book are available in more than 77 languages, a testament to the ministry’s commitment to inclusivity and respect for all pilgrims departing for their home countries via King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah Islamic Port, and other crossings.

Hajj 2024 ended on Tuesday and some pilgrims have started departing for their home countries having visited Madinah before the pilgrimage.


Saudi health minister hails success of Hajj plans

Saudi health minister hails success of Hajj plans
Updated 18 June 2024
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Saudi health minister hails success of Hajj plans

Saudi health minister hails success of Hajj plans
  • Fahad Al-Jalajel: Despite the large number of pilgrims and the challenges posed by high temperatures, we experienced no outbreaks or public health threats
  • Al-Jalajel praised the Supreme Hajj Committee for its measures to protect pilgrims from extreme heat and other health risks during rituals

RIYADH: The Saudi minister of health has hailed the success of preparation for Hajj after no outbreaks or threats to public health were recorded during the annual pilgrimage.

Fahad Al-Jalajel said in a statement: “I am pleased to announce the success of this year’s Hajj health plans. Despite the large number of pilgrims and the challenges posed by high temperatures, we experienced no outbreaks or public health threats.

“The health system was equipped with 189 hospitals, health centers and mobile clinics, offering a bed capacity exceeding 6,500. Over 40,000 medical, technical, and administrative staff and volunteers were mobilized, supported by more than 370 ambulances, seven air ambulances, 12 laboratories and 60 trucks.

“We also provided more than 1,860 medical supplies and, in a significant move, deployed three mobile medical warehouses across the holy sites,” he added, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

More than 390,000 pilgrims received healthcare services during the pilgrimage this year, of which 28 underwent open heart surgery, 720 received cardiac catheters and more than 1,169 had dialysis sessions, the minister said.

Virtual health services through Seha Virtual Hospital were provided to more than 5,800 pilgrims, and heat stress cases were managed with appropriate medical care. Proactive awareness efforts helped limit the increase in cases.

The minister attributed the success of the plans to the integration among all government agencies, including the Makkah Health Cluster of the Health Holding Company, the Red Crescent Authority, the Public Health Authority (Weqaya), the Food and Drug Authority, and significant contributions from the National Unified Procurement Company (NUPCO), the Health Volunteering Center and other entities in the Kingdom.

Al-Jalajel praised the Supreme Hajj Committee for its measures to protect pilgrims from extreme heat and other health risks during rituals. He also expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Interior for its active role in executing the health plans.

The achievement reflects the integration of all government entities and preparation for the Hajj season within the framework of the Guests of God Program, the minister said.

He highlighted the Central Hajj Committee’s recommendation for pilgrims to avoid peak heat times, saying the guidance contributed to maintaining safety and managing heat stress cases.