Exploiting the benefits of Hajj

Hajj. Photo; .timeinc

Hajj. Photo; .timeinc

The Hajj rites, otherwise known as pilgrimage to Mecca is the fifth of the fundamental Muslim practices and institutions known as the five pillars of Islam. Every year, millions of Nigerians aspires to participate, but only a lucky few would actually take part in the 2015 Hajj rites

Indeed, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has assured of its readiness to take Nigerians through a stress-free process to the holy land.

The commission had noted only 76,000 seats have been approved by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Nigeria for this year’s Hajj operations.

Pilgrimage, however, is popularly described by scholars as a ‘meritorious activity’. It serves as a penance – the ultimate forgiveness for sins, devotion, and intense spirituality.

The pilgrimage to Mecca, the most sacred city in Islam, is required of all physically and financially able Muslims once in a lifetime. The pilgrimage rites begins a few months after Ramadan, on the 8th day of the last month of the Islamic year of Dhul-Hijjah, and ends on the 13th day.

However, Mecca is the center towards which the Muslims converge once a year, meet and refresh in themselves the faith that all Muslims are equal and deserve the love and sympathy of others, irrespective of their race or ethnic origin.

“Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed the same way. You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out “Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!” (At your service, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair – all together, brothers! All honouring the same God, all in turn giving equal honour to each other,” a pilgrim, Isa Ola-Alausa said.

Thus the pilgrimage unites the Muslims of the world into one international fold. More than two million persons perform the Hajj each year, and the rite serves as a unifying force in Islam by bringing followers of diverse backgrounds together in worship

Meanwhile, the Hajj is a manifestation of the belief in the unity of God – all the pilgrims worship and obey the commands of the One God, Allah.

The former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, recently assured that Nigerian pilgrims this years will enjoy special treats from the NAHCON officials.

He said: “Our pilgrims now enjoy better accommodation and better facilities during Hajj operations. The management of the Hajj operations has been greatly enhanced to face contemporary challenges and to accommodate the increasing number of intending pilgrims that apply annually for this spiritual obligation.

As part of the obligations of Hajj, the pilgrims are expected to visits the holy places outside Mecca – Arafah, Muzdalifah, and Minaa – prays, sacrifices an animal in commemoration of Abraham’s sacrifice, throws pebbles at specific pillars at Minaa, and shortens or shaves his head. The rites also involve walking seven times around the sacred sanctuary, or Kaaba, in Mecca, and ambulating, walking and running, seven times between the two small hills of Mt. Safaa and Mt. Marwah.

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