Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Eid-ul-Adha Messages from three continents to Muslims worldwide

Eid Messages from Heads of States of
Three continents to Muslims worldwide

Dr. Mozammel Haque

SEOUL, South KOREA: I, Dr. Mozammel Haque, Media Advisor of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, wish you all happy and peaceful Eid ul-Adha, from Seoul, South Korea. More than 2,000 Muslims of different nationalities and languages attended the Eid-ul-Adha prayers at the Seoul Central Mosque, Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, the 16th of November, 2010.

This Eid-al-Adha festival, the festival of sacrifice, comes after the successful performance of Hajj. Muslims throughout the world observe the sacrifices made by Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and celebrate the life of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his remarkable work he has done. Prophet Ibrahim, the Patriarch of all the monotheistic religion, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was commanded by Allah the Almighty to sacrifice his beloved son and both Prophet Ibrahim and his son willingly accepted this Divine decree.

Eid-ul-Adha is a day of joyous celebration. It is a sacrificial ritual, the feast of sacrifice, which comes from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and which was followed and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

On this auspicious occasion, leaders of the Muslim countries as well as the heads of states of three countries from three continents sent their Eid Messages to the Muslim Community of the world at large.

From Europe, Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron
From Europe, the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, MP, sent his warmest Eid wishes to the Muslim community throughout the United Kingdom. “Eid al-Adha, celebrated all over the world, is one of the most holy festivals in Islam and celebrates the culmination of the Hajj,” said the British Prime Minister in his Eid message on 16th of November, 2010.

David Cameron, MP, also mentioned, “As families and friends come together in celebration, I want to recognise the immense contribution that British Muslims, over many generations, have made to our country.”

The British Prime Minister also wishes “a very happy and peaceful Eid”.

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, MP, also issued a press release on 16 November, 2010 on the occasion of Eid ul Adha wishing all a happy Eid-ul-Adha. He said in his Eid Message, “At this time of year Muslim communities across the globe will be celebrating Eid al-Adha and will be sharing their celebrations with friends and family.”

The British Foreign Secretary also mentioned, “The festival marks the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, one of the pillars of the Muslim faith. I am proud of the fact that the British government has sent a British Hajj delegation to Saudi Arabia to provide consular assistance to British hajjis. Eid-ul-Adha also commemorates the sacrifice of the prophet Abraham. It is a fitting opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate the common ground between faiths and look to what unites rather than divides us.”

British Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, MP, also sent a message of good wishes at Eid-ul-Adha. Communities Secretary wishes Muslims across Britain “Eid Mubarak” as the Festival of Sacrifice begins. Mr. Pickles said, “As the end of the Hajj pilgrimage approaches, I would like to send a message of good wishes to all British Muslims.”

The Communities Secretary also mentioned, “Eid ul-Adha is an important time for Muslims, both of deep reflection and celebration. It marks the end of the Hajj - the largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world - when Muslims demonstrate their belief that all people are equal and should live peacefully together.”

“The ideas of peace, compassion and giving, which are so important at this time, are common to us all and can serve to unite Muslims and non-Muslims,” Mr. Pickles said.

The Communities Secretary also expressed his willingness to “recognise the significant role that Muslims have played, and are continuing to play, in helping to create the vibrant society we live in.”

From Asia, Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah
Millions of worshippers gathered at the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madina – to celebrate the day of Eid-ul-Adha – the feast of sacrifice – and to perform the Eid-ul-Adha prayers on Tuesday, the 16th of November, 2010 in recognition of Prophet Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) total faith in Allah the Almighty.

King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has urged Muslims to use the Hajj as a standard for their behavior in future. In his message to the Ummah Wednesday, King Abdullah said Muslims should not lose the lessons they have learnt during the holy pilgrimage. This includes their unity during the pilgrimage, whatever gender, race, ethnic group or nationality.

He also called on Muslims to reject terrorism, which has nothing to do with Islam. The only way to counter terrorism is for Muslims to continue to have dialogue with each other and with those of other faiths, said the King.

King Abdullah thanked Almighty Allah for allowing pilgrims to perform their Hajj rituals “in ease and comfort and prayed to Allah to accept their good deeds, purify their souls and realize their hopes,” according to a report carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Th King said Muslims should use the Hajj to “revive and renew their relations and strengthen the bonds of fraternity, love and cohesion”. The Monarch said he is always filled with “great delight and pleasure” to see Muslims from all over the world come together for Hajj.

He said Hajj is “a clear sign of the Divine Will to unite the Ummah and reaffirm the oneness of the Creator”. Hajj also embodies “equality and justice”. “Almighty Allah ordained this annual obligation to serve as a gathering place for the believers, the sons of one religion.”

The King said Almighty Allah has honoured the Kingdom with the chance to serve the Two Holy Mosques. He said this is a great responsibility which the country is willing to bear because it only seeks Allah’s reward for being of service to the Guests of Allah. “Almighty Allah has made matters easy for us to fulfill our obligations toward the worshippers,” the King said.

King Abdullah said the government will not “tolerate anyone who may try to tamper with the security of the pilgrims or contaminate the spiritual atmosphere”. “We will secure the safety of the pilgrims until they return to their countries safely,” the King added.

In Makkah, the worshippers were led by Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, Imam and Khateeb of the Grand Mosque, who explained in his sermon that this was a day on which Allah Almighty bestows His forgiveness and mercy on His worshippers.

Al-Sudais said that “one of the great Islamic rites on this glorious day is the sacrificial ritual” which comes from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and which was followed and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Al-Sudais said that in this era of globalization, there were many threats to world security and world peace.

He said Islam was a religion of moderation and if practiced correctly creates a “balanced society that takes into consideration both the needs of the individual and the community”. He said the embodiment of this balance was in the person of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In Madina, in the presence of Prince Abdulaziz Bin Majed Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Madina, Muslims performed Eid Al-Adha prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque. The prayers were led by Sheikh Salah Al-Bedair, Imam and Khateeb, who praised Allah the Almighty for His blessings bestowed on Muslims, congratulating all Muslims around the world on the advent of Eid Al-Adha and especially those who performed the Hajj rituals in “tranquility, security and safety”.

In his sermon, Al-Bedair urged all Muslims to commit themselves to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to be careful of deviant ideas or faiths.

He also called on Muslims to educate the ignorant, guide those who have questionable faith, promote virtue and prevent vice. He urged Muslims to pay Zakat, visit the sick and feed the hungry. Al-Bedair also warned Muslims about giving or taking bribes. He urged those who are addicted to smoking, alcohol and drugs to abandon these habits.

In concluding his sermon, he called on all Muslims to display tolerance, compassion and be servants of Almighty Allah..

From America: Statement by the US President
On the occasion of Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha, US President, Barack Obama, issued a statement saying, “Michelle and I extend our greetings for a happy Eid-ul-Adha to Muslims worldwide and wish safe travels to those performing Hajj. This year, nearly three million pilgrims from more than 160 countries – including the United States – have gathered in Mecca and neighboring sites to perform the Hajj rituals and stand together in prayer.”

President Obama also mentioned, “On Eid, Muslims around the world will commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, and distribute food to those less fortunate – a reminder of the shared values and the common roots of three of the world’s major religions.”

“On behalf of the American people, we extend our best wishes during this Hajj season – Eid Mubarak and Hajj Mabrour,” concluded by President Barack Obama.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Wishing a safe journey, a blissful visit to Holy Places and an accepted Hajj

Wishing a safe journey, a blissful
visit to Holy Places and an accepted Hajj

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland, wished a safe journey, a blissful visit to the Holy Places and an accepted Hajj to the British Hajj delegation and to all British Muslims who are performing Hajj this year. He said this at the launching of the British Hajj Delegation at the Durbar Court of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), on Wednesday, 27th of October, 2010, in the presence of Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Minister without Portfolio and Jeremy Browne, M.P. Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office and diplomats and other members of the Hajj Delegation, guests and community leaders.

Twenty-five thousand UK Muslims will go this year to perform the annual pilgrimage in Makkah with the British government offering advice, support and consular services to its citizens going there. British Hajj Delegation is a team that will provide on the ground consular support for British pilgrims attending Hajj next month.

Mr. Ahmed Patel from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be leaving on November 3rd and he will be in Makkah from 7th of November 2010. He will be joined by one staff from the British Embassy in Riyadh and another staff from the British Consulate Office in Jeddah.

British Hajj Delegation was started in 1999 and Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham led the first British Hajj Delegation to Saudi Arabia. From next year, 2000 to last year, 2009, Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn led the British Hajj Delegation. “Lord Patel has done tremendous amount of work and Lord Ahmed who set up the delegation also did tremendous amount of work,” said Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Minister without Portfolio, at the launching of the British Hajj Delegation on Wednesday, the 27th of October 2010 from the Durbar Court, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), London.

Twelve years ago the Hajj Delegation was set up, especially focused around the provision of medical services, said Baroness Warsi. Since then not only the medical services but other services, such as travel arrangement and other facilities became much better. “I think all of us have to pay tribute to the way Saudi Arabia conduct that particular gathering of Hajj and Umrah” observed Baroness Warsi.

Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth
Office, Jeremy Browne, M.P.
Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne, said in his opening speech, “My first observation is to say thank you very much to the government of Saudi Arabia for the services and facilities provided. Hajj is obviously a very significant event for your country but it is also a significant event for millions of people around the world, including the tens and thousands of British people who will be attending and who will be going to you for preparation of works into making the whole event the whole pilgrimage as successful as it has been and I am sure it will be this year as well.”

Consular Hajj delegation
That’s why, it was felt that a consular Hajj team, not medical delegation, will be going to Saudi Arabia. Baroness Warsi said, “We will have consular staff available on a 24 hour call-line effectively.”

The Foreign Office announced that it will provide the full range of consular services and will be sending the British Hajj Delegation to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj. The British Hajj Delegation will be located at the Elaf Al-Khalil Hotel, Makkah. You can find contact details and a travellers’ checklist in the FCO’s travel advice for Hajj pilgrims in the Foreign Office website.

Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi said, “It is important that British Muslims going on Hajj this year check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice and the requirements set out by the Saudi government. Most pilgrims will have a trouble-free trip but, given the sheer numbers of people due to be present; people should take sensible precautions and plan carefully before they travel.”

24-hour emergency helpline
Mr. Jeremy Browne said, “We have provided a number of supporting materials including this booklet (Hajjis) which I am holding in English but it is also produced in other languages as well. 24 hour emergency helpline; the number will be available in the foreign office website.”

Browne also mentioned, “We will be working closely with the Saudis on the whole package of support that we are offering to people.”

Travel Insurance and inoculation for meningitis
“We are encouraging people to make sure that they take out travel insurance;” said Mr. Browne and added, “to make sure that any necessary inoculation but in particular the meningitis which is essential for getting visa that is needed to travel to the Hajj.”

In reply to a question, the Minister of State again mentioned that people should have travel insurance. “We are talking about inoculation that is compulsory but we also recommended, for example, for flu, which is not compulsory for obtaining visa. We recommend people to have before they left.”

24-hour emergency number
“People also need to look carefully for terms and conditions of your travel and accommodation just as you do for other circumstances. We are keen to be an assistance; that’s why we have British brochures like this one. We also have, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, a 24 hour emergency number; the number is 014822800. So we are in many different ways trying to make sure that people have trouble-free visit possible,” said Mr. Browne.

Baroness Warsi
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Minister without Portfolio, said in her opening speech, “Many of you know performing Hajj is a huge moment. 25,000 British Muslims travel to perform Hajj every year. It’s extremely demanding moment physically and spiritually and what we, our government, want to make sure that British citizen who performs Hajj supported adequately.”

Tour operators
Baroness Warsi mentioned about some tour operators. “There are some real challenges about some tour operators who are operating at the time of Hajj and Umrah. This has been an ongoing issue now for many many years. People travels to Saudi Arabia are not satisfied with the level of services that are given or the level of services that have been promised. The government of Saudi Arabia has done maximum amount of work in trying to make sure that only authorised agents are taking part in providing the Hajj and the Umrah package. There are also other organizations, for example, Association of British Hujjaj; they are doing tremendous amount of work in trying to bring this in forefront. “

“There are good Hajj tour operators and bad Hajj tour operators,” mentioned Baroness Warsi and added, “We will have to isolate those rogue tour operators from the genuine operators.”

Baroness Warsi mentioned that 12 years ago the Hajj Delegation was set up especially focused around the provision of medical services. She also said that year on year those services, not just medical; travel arrangement year on year is getting better.

Consular staff available on 24-hour call line
In reply to a question by the Media Advisor of the Islamic Cultural Centre, Dr. Mozammel Haque, Baroness Warsi started saying about the nature of Hajj Delegation. “I think all of us has to pay tribute to the way Saudi Arabia conduct that particular gathering of Hajj and Umrah but this year it was felt that it was appropriate for the delegation to go ahead but not to be a medical delegation but we will have consular staff available on a 24 hour call-line effectively; people who go for Hajj and Umrah I want them to pick up the phone and make a call on the line who can help me that is available.”

Baroness Warsi also mentioned, “We also make sure; that people speak various languages speaking by the British potential Hajjis, so Urdu will be spoken, Arabic will be spoken, and Bengali will be spoken.”

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, Saudi Ambassador
Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom and Ireland, said, “The support offered by the British Government to the Hajj Delegation is an embodiment of the high level of care and attention it gives to British Muslims at all times and in all fields as an integral part of this country’s demographic combination. Undoubtedly, this attention strengthens British Muslims sense of belonging and re-enforces their commitment and dedication to the well-being and development of their communities and country as a whole.”

Hajj – true reflection of the principles of
equality, modesty and human brotherhood
Speaking about the significance of Hajj, Prince Mohammed said, “During Hajj, millions of Muslims, from all over the world, gather in the same places, to perform the same rituals, at the same times, standing together on equal footing and dressed as one. This renders Hajj a true reflection of the exalted principles of equality, modesty and human brotherhood that are at the heart of Islam, and truly embodies Islam’s cross-borders and cross-cultures nature. Many of our dear British Muslim brothers and sisters must have experienced this first hand.”

Islam’s teachings of compassion, cooperation
Tolerance and caring for others
“Hajj is an occasion where Muslims from all nations, races, countries and walks of life are endowed with a golden opportunity to know each other better and learn more about each other’s issues and concerns; thus emphasizing Islam’s teachings of compassion, cooperation, tolerance and caring for others,” the Saudi Ambassador mentioned.

Initiation of new massive infrastructure
and transportation projects
Speaking about the huge administrative, organizational, logistical and safety challenges the Hajj season posed in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ambassador said, “The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, constantly puts forth great efforts to face these challenges that require the allocation and effective management of sizeable human and financial resources. Hardly a month goes by without a new project or a new service being launched to continue improving the level of care provided to the visitors of the Holy Places.”

“Those who will perform Hajj this year will see Holy Places that are different even from last year’s Hajj, as the continued expansion and the initiation of new massive infrastructure and transportation projects will make stunning developments that are all aimed at making Hajj easier, safer and more comfortable for our honored guests,” mentioned Prince Mohammad.
Prince Mohammad assured that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “will spare no effort to ensure that this year’s pilgrimage begins and concludes safely and peacefully, that the mission of the British Hajj Delegation is successful, and that the British pilgrims’ journey to the Holy Places in Saudi Arabia is a safe and fulfilling one.”
Wishing a safe journey, a blissful visit
to the Holy Places, an accepted Hajj
The Saudi Ambassador concluded his speech wishing the British Hajj Delegation, and all British Muslims who are performing Hajj this year, “a safe journey, a blissful visit to the Holy places, an accepted Hajj and a safe return to their homes and loved ones.”