By Arab News
By P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Saudi Arabia sought to discourage Saudis and expatriates from performing pilgrimage this year without valid Haj permits with an intensified public awareness campaign through the media.
The country’s grand mufti also said it was unlawful to do Haj without permits. “Helping pilgrims to enter the holy sites without Haj permits goes against the law and the ruler, and those who perform Haj without permits are doing an unlawful thing,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said in a statement distributed by the Makkah governorate.
The mufti also spoke against the practice of squatting in public places by pilgrims, saying such practice would reduce their rewards as they cause problems to the Kingdom’s Haj managers and fellow pilgrims by obstructing walkways.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz said it was the duty of Muslims to ensure the safety of pilgrims and support the measures taken by the government for the purpose. “The government did not introduce the Haj permit system without any purpose but to reduce overcrowding during the pilgrimage,” he pointed out.
Muhammad Badahdah, assistant secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), supported the Haj permit system. He said it was essential not only to control the crowd but also to plan for necessary services. Currently unpredictable number of pilgrims are performing Haj from within the Kingdom.
“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has set out a system that every country can send 1,000 pilgrims for each million of its population. But the number of people going for Haj from the Kingdom is way beyond its quota, and this causes a lot of problem for Saudi Haj managers,” Badahdah told Arab News.
He said the provision of allowing Saudis and expatriates to perform Haj after every five years is good. “Expatriate workers going for Haj should know that their number is not included in the quota of their respective countries and should not misuse the facility,” he added.