Islamic scholars caution pilgrims, assure of safer Hajj

Posted by Ibraheem Alli, Iwo | 28 January 2016 | 4,834 times

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The Nigeria Center for Arabic Research (NCAR) has cautioned pilgrims, especially those from Nigeria, to respect Hajj rules, even as it assured intending pilgrims of their safety if they observe the pilgrimage culture.

This was the crux of a programme tagged “Pilgrimage Culture and Civilized Behaviour for the Pilgrims” held recently at the auditorium of The Wings Schools Central Mosque, Iwo, Osun State. The programme was organised against the backdrop of the stampede at the intersection of street 204 and 223 leading to Jamaraat Bridge in Munaa, a suburb of Makkah during the last annual Hajj pilgrimage. That tragedy, on September 24, 2015, reportedly claimed at least 2,430 lives. Out of these, 274 were Nigerians in addition to 43 declared missing.

Analysing the root cause of the stampede, the National President, Independent Hajj Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Mojeed, described the occurrence as the will of God. He pointed that man will always facilitate the work of God, either inadvertently or otherwise, positive or negative. Alhaji Abdul-Mojeed commended Saudi authorities for their past performance but faulted the way they organised last year’s Hajj. He specifically complained about the lack of usual logistics such as adequate/stationed water supply, lukewarm security operatives and enclosed gate that prevented easy passage by pilgrims.

Alhaji Abdul-Mojeed expressed disappointment over the failure by pilgrims to adhere to given instructions, especially on movement. This contributed in no small way to the deadly stampede, he said.

He dismissed as baseless the claim in some quarters that over-population was responsible factor for the stampede, noting that the Saudi Government has reduced the population of pilgrims since the last five years to cater for 1% of Muslims in each country. Muslims observing Hajj will continue to increase because expansion work is in top gear in Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Abdul-Mojeed said. He noted that a more efficient means of transportation is in progress and that the Saudis have projected the extension to accommodate 10 million pilgrims by 2020.

His words: “The Saudi Government was supposed to open more gates to Jamaraat as usual but, unfortunately, only a gate was opened. Last year security operatives were complacent, not active and observant as usual. Most pilgrims are adamant, breaching prescribed direction and instruction. Standard railway line will soon be completed to facilitate easy locomotion. The Saudi Government is organised, spending their own money without receiving a penny from the Hajj fee. They give visa for free. There is no better industry to them than Hajj. Oil will dry but Hajj will never dry.”

In his remarks, the Ameerul-Hajj of Osun State, Barrister Dhikrullah Hassan, represented by a member of Osun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Banyanmi Owolabi, attributed the stampede to the wish of God coupled with human factors. He advised that experienced officials be saddled with the spearheading of protocol for the Hajj in Saudi. According to him, it is also saddening that most pilgrims are not qualified, majority of those qualified are not obedient neither do they respect instruction. He, however, expressed optimism that the ugly occurrence will not in any way reduce Hajj patronage because it is a religious obligation.

Speaking at the event, a former Federal Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Lai Olurode, described the stampede as a sign of God’s superiority and perfection over mankind considering the testability and reliability of the Saudi Government in organising the annual Hajj.

Prof. Olurode implored Muslims to find reason in sponsoring Islamic programmes in both the print and electronic media to promote factual tenets of Islam rather than being misled by Western propagandists. He therefore urged Islamic scholars to be generous in propagating Islam, affirming that such will motivate religious leaders in standing for the truth instead of patronising politicians which, in turn, downgrades their integrity.

“The occurrence in Saudi was an indication of God`s superiority, and that perfection is not an asset of you and I. Can you ever imagine constitutional loophole of what happened in Kogi State? We need to be sponsoring programmes in media to enlighten our people. I know a late Islamic leader that sold his house and distributed the money for Alfas so as to halt patronisation of political leaders,” said Prof. Olurode.

The Secretary General of NCAR, Dr. Abdul-Hafeez Adedimeji, in his keynote address enjoined pilgrims to follow Prophet Mohammed’s suit by being helpful towards weak people. According to him, if a road, the Jamaraat Bridge or the Holy Mosque is crowded by Muslims, they can return or sit down until people leave their places. He opined that Prophet Mohammed (SAW) was keen to make the weak people and women take the lead in sacrificing and urged them to circumambulate the Ka’abah in the back of men so that they are not harmed.

A Spiritual Leader, Islahudeen Nigeria Missionary Association, Sheik Muslim Muqaddam Hussein, revered God for his protection on Islam despite stormy days, reiterating that the stampede was not unconnected with God’s knowledge. He therefore admonished the Muslim Ummah to resign themselves to fate to avoid unnecessary mocking by rival faiths.

The Proprietor/Resident Medical Doctor, KLM Muslim Hospital, Iwo, Dr. Lukman Gbadamosi, also referred to the stampede as the will of God. He, however, suggested that pilgrims from each country be syndicated into two in most acute activities to forestall future stampede.

The Proprietor, Innayattulai Academy, Iwo, Dr Surajudeen Asra, lamented the ignorance of most pilgrims and failure to heed instruction, revealing that the zoning and timing schedule were not strictly adhere to during the 2015 Hajj. He gave part of the blame to security lapse occasioned by the flexibility of the security personnel. He also faulted the non-availability of enough drinking water at Minnah. According to him, there used to be helicopter supplying water to pilgrims but nothing of such happened last year. He added that the Saudi Government also assumed that pilgrims already knew what to do.

Dr. Asra implored Hajj regulatory bodies and stakeholders to appoint competent officials with reference to one of the former heads of the scheme, Alhaji Liad Tella. He charged government to start imposing examination on intending pilgrims, affirming that most of those assigned by government organise the pilgrimage are incompetent.

Addressing participants, the Director General of the Nigerian Arab Center for Research, Dr. Al-Khidru Mohammed Abdul Baqi, represented by Dr. Quazeem Tijani, disclosed that some acts of the pilgrims resulted in the damage experienced in recent times in Saudi Arabia. He said that curtailing such begins with awareness and education process to be handled by Islamic intellectuals. He charged the Muslim intellectuals, elite and preachers to complement by instilling positive pilgrimage culture to ensure hitch-free Hajj.

Dr. Baqi assured of acquainting officials of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj with the proposals and recommendations of the programme as may concern Saudi Arabia.

Other eminent people that graced the occasion were Alhaji (Engr.) Abdur-Rasheed I. Faazaaziy, Chairman, Muslim Community of Iwoland; Sheikh Ya’quob A. Muhammed, Principal, Islahudeen Arabic School, Iwo; Dr. Ibrahim Lere Ameen, Lecturer, University of Ibadan; Sheikh Saalih Abass Olajide, Lecturer and Chief Imam, Osun State College of Education, Ila Orangun; and Sheikh Abdur Razaaq A. Thanni, Chief Imam, Anwarul-Islam Society of Nigeria, Iwo Branch.

•Photo shows a cross section of participants at the “Pilgrimage Culture and Civilized Behaviour for the Pilgrims” held recently at the auditorium of The Wings Schools Central Mosque, Iwo, Osun State.

Source: News Express

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