Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in one’s lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.
It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat and Sawm. The Hajj is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfils this condition is called a mustati.
The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions. In Ghana, the pilgrimage to the holy land always comes with its major challenges.
Paramount among these challenges is the issue of quota being given to prospective Ghanaian pilgrims. In the past years, most Ghanaians pilgrims could not embark on this religious journey even though they made all the necessary payments. How can’t the hajj board and the Saudi Arabia embassy collaborate to resolve this problem? Another worrying phenomenon that is of concerns to most pilgrims are cost of air ticket, accommodation, cost of transportation from Madina to Mecca to Jeddah and so on.
When will this cost per head be reduced to ensure that Muslems fulfills one of the pillars of Islam without major challenges. It is of public knowledge that successive government usually allocate tickets for their party faithfuls to embark on pilgrimage to Mecca.
The question many are asking is, should tax payer’s money be used to finance some section of individuals, instead of using it to embark on socials interventions? The northern regional public relations officer of Hajj board Haruna Elliyasu has indicated that preparations are underway to process prospective pilgrims for this year’s hajj.
However the questions which still linger in the minds of well-meaning Muslims includes: when will gathering of Muslims in parks for days be stopped? When will the use of megaphones to call names of prospective pilgrims be substituted to text messages since we are in a computer age? May this year’s hajj be successful devoid of any hitch.
By Baba Kamil