Some pointers for Hajj... By Tahir
01 November, 2012
I wish to appreciate the meticulous arrangements made by the government of Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year. It was an incredible pilgrimage boasting the participation of around four million Muslims from around the world. However, there were certain occasions during this year's event — exit from Arafat, Tawaf-e-Ziara and Tawaf-e-Wida — where the rush was unprecedented and mismanaged, causing great inconvenience for the guests of Allah. I would like to make the following suggestions so that the inconvenience to pilgrims can be avoided.
First, the number of pilgrims needs to be reduced to a reasonable level so that it is compatible with the available infrastructure. People performing the Hajj without tasreeh (Hajj permit) should be strictly banned. I believe there are about 500,000 such pilgrims and a strict ban can reduce the pressure on infrastructure substantially. The period of second Hajj should be increased from five years to ten years from one's last Hajj. The rush one finds when riding the train from Muzdalfa to Arafat is enormous. Here, something needs to be done urgently, e.g. increasing the number of trains, allowing private/public transport and regulating people of different camps so that they go at different times. There should be stringent monitoring of the facilities being provided by Hajj tour operators through surprise raids. There have been instances of many reputed tour operators selling their customers to other operators who are cheaper and have lesser facilities.
One major and permanent problem has been the lack of any public transport between Mina and Mecca during the Hajj season. This has caused great problems for women and old or sick pilgrims as anybody coming from Haram to H-Block in Mina has to cover a distance of about 12 kilometres on foot. The government should seriously look at this issue and introduce some public transport system from the last corner of Mina to Haram. Currently, taxi drivers are simply looting the guests of Allah by overcharging exorbitantly and dropping them far away from what had been agreed at the time of hailing the taxi. Also the number of washrooms needs to be increased in Mina and Arafat and they should have adequate availability of water.
TAHIR MAHMOOD NADEEM
Jubail, Saudi Arabia