Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which is mandatory for a mature, sane believer to perform once in his, or her lifetime if he/she has the means and there are no un-scalable hurdles on the track or way to Hajj.
This religious rite was ordained in the ninth year after the Hijrah of the noble Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Bn Abdullah, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them from Makkah to Madinah. Though the Prophet did not perform the Hajj, not until a year later which was his first and last Hajj, and was tagged the Farewell Hajj.
Since the ninth year to date, Hajj became an annual event for Muslims, which they undertake except for a few years, either due to some pandemics or wars were prevented from such religious exercise at its appointed time.
Muslims from all five continents of the world trooped annually to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this religious event. Muslims endure all hardships and inconveniences to converge in Makkah to perform this cardinal principle of their religion.
Allah, Subhãnahu Wata’Ãla Knows that the exercise was not a tea party, it was a herculean task that would put to test every believer’s strength of patience and perseverance. Hence Allah admonished those who embark on the religious journey at its stipulated time to desist from any untoward behaviours and avoid quarrels amongst themselves and other vices, as in 2 v 197. From this verse, it should be clear to everyone that the Hajj exercise is not a bed of roses. Therefore, it requires absolute patience and perseverance.
Alhamdulillah! The twenty twenty-three Hajj exercise has come and gone. We pray, may Allah makes it Hajjan Mabruoran, Wa Sa’ayan Mashkúran, Wa Zanban Maghfúran for all those who participated.
Yes, the 2023 Hajj exercise, like all exercises before it, has had its fair share of its ups and downs. Yes, some hiccups were avoidable while others were inevitable.
Whoever happens to have performed Hajj and, or Umrah many times, or even went to Saudi on a visit, would not fail to realize that the Saudi authorities are every year making reviews, adjustments and in some cases complete overhauls of systems and strategies adopted for each year’s operation, an indicator that a particular aspect could have been handled differently. In essence, no Hajj exercise without its peculiar challenges. This year was not an exception. We pray that subsequent Hajj operations won’t face any challenges! However, this is a tall order.
This year’s hurdles, as far as Nigeria is concerned, include, though not limited to poor footing of three, or four of the six air carriers contracted for the airlift of pilgrims, Visa hiccups, accommodation, feeding, inadequate tents in Mashã’ir, to Saudi stringent procedure, approach and policy, which look at a whole and not a part of the system/exercise which involves different people and countries.
As earlier stated, some of the problems encountered were avoidable, like the air carriers engaged. Those that never have the capacity in all ramifications of the exercise shouldn’t have been engaged in the first place. There was a dereliction of duty and outright insubordination among the Hajj handlers at both Federal and State levels.
Some subordinates, for reasons best known to them, operated in total contrast and in some cases crossed the road with their superiors. A situation where the head issues a directive and the one directed does the opposite and no punitive measures are taken. This leaves one to wonder whether the superior compromised himself, or he is a weakling in leadership. Or one sees a tug of war-between the supervisor and the supervised. All these and their likes were avoidable. And one’s hope is that measures would be taken to right things to guard against reoccurrence.
Feeding and accommodation problems could equally have been avoided, if there was strong willpower and diligent contractual agreement which was not laced with some form of rob my back and I rob yours. This is because all parties would be in the know that any default on either side would attract not only a refund but sanctions as well.
As stated earlier Some problems were inevitable as they were never envisaged: Like airlifting pilgrims from Madinah back to Nigeria and the issue of slots schedule for airlines. These two issues were an exclusive preserve of the Saudis to handle. A smooth airlift of pilgrims would not be possible without the workable synergy with the Saudi General Aviation of Civil Authority, NAHCON, state pilgrims’ boards, and the pilgrims themselves. Here sometimes there could be unity in some instances, while in some the unity could be missing, either deliberately, or otherwise.
Throughout this year’s Hajj exercise these variety of problems have been encountered; some were solved while others are still pending.
Therefore, it is a great disservice to condemn and discredit the entire exercise, ignoring other positivity. This attitude is un-Islamic. Islam enjoys Muslims to be fair in judgement; one constructively criticises for corrections, but not to condemn to vilify as is almost the hallmark of the criticisms flying around on the just concluded Hajj exercise.
It got to a head that a traditional ruler not only ran down the entire exercise but went further to infer that the entire Nigerian media was feeding the public with garbage and falsehood about what happened in Saudi. One is at a loss as to which falsehood his royal highness was referring to! Which of all that happened during the Hajj exercise, pleasant, or otherwise was not reported by the media?
Then, which of them was false? That about 95,000 Nigerian pilgrims were successfully airlifted to Saudi Arabia? That they have all performed their hajj rites? That they have started returning home, that some fell sick and died and that some were never ill? That some complaints of poor feeding and tent in Minna while others gave thumped up for the arrangement in Madina and Makkah.
Well probably the euphoria of uniting with his folks led him to make those UN-ROYAL comments, however, one waits to read the report he promised to write. There, probably, his royal highness will give more cogent facts about the media’s complicity and where they were economical with the truth and whether the entire handling of the exercise should remain condemned, without any commendable aspects.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has been advised to discountenance…