Wednesday, 21 December 2011

What the Pilgrims say about Hajj 2011



What the Pilgrims say about Hajj 2011

Dr. Mozammel Haque

There is no question or doubt that Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and every able body who can afford financially must perform Hajj. Now the world population, particularly the Muslim population is increasing; consequently the number of pilgrims will increase. It is a fact that the area of Holy sites, such as Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Makkah is fixed. I think it is another wonder of the world that millions of people moved in a constrained place in a constrained timeframe. Similarly, it is another wonder to manage a gathering of four and a half million pilgrims moving at the same time from one place to another place within that small area and to arrange for them adequate transportation, accommodation and feeding.

No doubt, the pilgrims are the guests of Allah the Almighty. Allah supports the cause and that’s why, it is going smoothly. Of course, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the people of Saudi Arabia have left no stone unturned to bring ease and comfort to the pilgrims through building roads, infrastructure and expansion of the Haramain. Let us see how the pilgrims who went to perform Hajj this year feel and what are their opinions, views and experience about Hajj in 2011. Irrespective of position, status, geographical affiliation, I interviewed pilgrims from the president of a country to the common man, belonging to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

General (Retired) H.M. Ershad
Former President of Bangladesh
Former President of Bangladesh, General (Retired) H.M. Ershad, present chairperson of Jatiya Party said, “I have not heard any complain from anybody. All the Hajjis are so happy; they are so well look after and the medical facilities, water arrangement and the evacuation of casualties in case of accident was wonderful. I feel that the Saudi authorities tried heart and soul to look after every individual who has come and joined this Hajj.”

Former President Ershad said, “I actually on my behalf and on behalf of Bangladeshi congratulate the King Abdullah and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this achievement, wonderful achievement.

Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
Prime Minister of Somalia
I met the Prime Minister of Somalia, Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, who came for the first time in Saudi Arabia. This is his first Hajj. He said, “It’s a life chance experience and I enjoyed it. The facilities are great; absolutely fabulous. I think the Saudi government has learnt and they perfected how to manage chaos. I think even for the US, to manage three million people at one time in small area is tough.”

Somali Prime Minister also said, “I think we are very thankful to the Saudi government for providing all this facilities to us, really they are real Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Really they are and I think Allah meant to put this religion in this place for good reasons and I think they did a good job.”

Mr. Uthman Serengi
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Uganda
I met Mr. Uthman Serengi, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Uganda. This is his first Hajj. But his father made Hajj some time back. Speaking about his father’s experience of Hajj, Mr. Uthman said, “At Jamarat my father found such a nightmare for him. Of course, I know sometime back there was dead there. So this time I was also expecting problems but Alhamdo Lillah, it was such a small exercise I went through the Jamarat quite easily and then the staying at Mina was good. Alhamdo Lillah, the facilities at Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat are quite good.”

Mr. Uthman observed, “.I have seen thousands and thousands of people using the rail. It was really wonderful. The rail was quite spectacular. I was seeing every two minutes train was passing by and it was quite good particularly during Arafat and I am sure the pilgrims have found it very useful. My wife was also doing for the first time and she also said she is extremely happy and elated about the experience. Insha Allah we will do this again.”

Mr. Uthman also said, “The transportation was great; was very yuppie, very befitting, in fact we are flattered and humbled by the treatment we have been given, we just prayed to Allah to reward them abundantly for everything they have accorded to us.”

“We have an excellent Hajj. We just are praying to Allah to reward King Abdullah and the people of Saudia with good health and long life so that they can look after more and more pilgrims, Jazakamullah jazah,” said Mr. Uthman

Lord Sheikh
Peer, House of Lords, British Parliament
I met Lord Mohammed Altaf Sheikh, Peer of the House of Lords, who performed Hajj three times and two Umrahs before. Lord Sheikh believes that Hajj is just like going for Jihad; it’s a test; it is test of ones ability to respond to issues which are not very comfortable.”

Speaking about Hajj 60/70 years before, Lord Sheikh mentioned, “My mother used to tell me that my grandmother came on Hajj. I don’t know 60/70 years ago and at that time she was living in Kenya; so she travelled from Kenya, went to Sudan and came by boat from Sudan to Jeddah and it was very very difficult.”
,
Speaking about his own experience when he came for the first time, Lord Sheikh said, “I personally enjoy the first Hajj because when you come here for the first time you see the Ka’aba Sharif in front of you that is a rare real experience. At that time if you look at the Haram Sharif, the area around Haram Sharif was not doubled; there was very few quality hotels; for example, the floor of Safa Marwah was not cool; but now if you go you will see it is very cool at the moment but at the Bibi Hazera’s time it was quite different, it was open, it was quite two hills and of course it was very open.”

Speaking about the differences, Lord Sheikh said, “certainly there are differences now. There are more hotels now. Life is a little bit easy; even for people who can afford it. But people who cannot afford it undoubtedly, they would not be staying at international hotel, they would stay five six people seven or eight people in one room, where inadequate washing facilities.”

Baroness Uddin
Baroness of House Lords, British Parliament
I also met Baroness Uddin who came with her husband to perform her first Hajj this year but she performed her first Ummah 12 years ago. Speaking about her Hajj experience, Baroness Uddin said, “I had seen so many pictures of Hajj and I had also seen Hajj transmitted live on Television. But nothing comparing witnessing with your own eyes and feeling of being in this place nothing is comparable.”

“The kingdom has made the journey as easy as possible. We have seen hundreds and hundreds of men and women and many with families incredibly brave walking on the streets but I have seen no hardship in their face. This is due to the facilities provided by the Kingdom,” said Baroness Uddin and added, “Facilities are immensely immeasurable. I could not have imagined until I have seen it.”

She also said, “I believe no other country on earth manages this level of flow of people from different countries, from different continents and different backgrounds.”

Mr. Shahid Malik

Former British Minister

I met the former British Justice Minister, Mr. Shahid Malik, who is performing Hajj this year. This is his second Hajj. He said, “The progresses are incredible. If you look at the Monorail transport system, it is amazing. When I came it was steel concrete on the ground and now it is functioning and the people are using it.”

Former British Minister also said, “I think each year there is massive progress. I think the credit must go to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah and his leadership on this issue. King Abdullah said, don’t call me Majesty, call me the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. I think that’s say a lot about his commitment on this issue. It said a lot to the outside world, to the Muslim world about this issue and you can see it in the investment taking place.”

Mr. Malik observed, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 10/15 years time, Insha Allah, will be incredibly different from what you know the biggest investment in mainline railway structure which will connect Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah etc. You are also seeing massive massive home building programme that is taking place and massive expansion of the Haram.”

Mr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko
Governor of the State of Sokoto, Nigeria
I met the Governor of the state of Sokoto, Nigeria, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, during the last ten days of last Ramadan. He is a regular visitor to the Haram during Ramadan. So when I met him this time during Hajj, I enquired about his Hajj. Governor Aliyu said, “Alhamdo Lillah, I am so happy that the arrangement is so unique and so comprehensive that I must commend the Kingdom for such organisation because it goes to show that the Kingdom is doing a lot for the Muslims the world over.”

This year about 7,000 people came from the state of Sokoto alone and 100,000 from Nigeria this year. Governor Aliyu said, “Alhamdo Lillah people are so comfortable and lots of improvements from the previous Hajj as mentioned by many pilgrims came this year. Previously, the tent ruined, the Jamarat was a hell, but this year it is so simple, it is made easier, simpler and more comfortable. Even at Jamarat, people moved pillar to pillar easily. Allah accepts our Hajj.”

Governor Aliyu also observed, “Let me tell you the Kingdom is doing a lot to show that we are all God’s guests to the Holy Land. We were well received, well-treated and well-served, best of their ability. The problem of hosting millions of people at a particular time and moment I must commend the Kingdom, not many countries in this world, can do this, over three/four million guests at one time. Giving an adequate transportation, accommodation, feeding is a really wonderful job. Alhamdo Lillah, God supports the cause; that’s why we have a heat-free pilgrimage this year and equally I must repeat my recommendation to the Kingdom to its resources and to all people in this year’s Hajj. The jobs are well-done.”

General Tan Sri Dato Sri Zulkifeli bin Mohd Zin
Chief of the Defence Force, Malaysia
I met the chief of the Defence Force of Malaysia, General Tan Sri Dato Sri Zulkifeli bin Mohd Zin, who performed Umrah a couple of times before, in 2007 and 2009 but this is his first Hajj. He recollected what his parents used to say: “My late parents had performed Hajj six or seven times. The process they have gone through was tedious as opposed to the present day. The story my late parents told me about their experience performing the Hajj and from my own personal experience, I could say that there is a vast difference now; because the infrastructure was very well developed. It is now more convenient and more efficient.”

General Sri Zulkifeli said, “Now the infrastructure at Jamarat was very well developed by the Kingdom. That is positive development. You look at the monorail system. In times to come, the monorail from Mina to Arafat and to Muzdalifah is another positive development,” Mr, Jufi said.

General Sri Zulkifeli also observed, “I think everybody is successfully able to perform their pilgrimage and at the end, everybody like me is very happy with the system, with the food, accommodation and the process I went through. This is something very great. I would like to reckon my observation to the King of Saudi Arabia for taking the trouble to ensure the development of the Holy Land and to ensure Muslims all over the world to be able to perform their Hajj efficiently and confidently.”

Lt. Gen. (retired) Salauddin Satti
Ambassador of Pakistan to Brunei Darus Salam
I met Lt. Gen. (retired) Salauddin Satti who was posted after retirement in 2008 to Brunei Darussalam High Commission as an ambassador for two years and now returning back to Pakistan. Mr. Satti performed Hajj in 2006 but this time he performed Hajj along with his wife who did not perform Hajj before.

Mr. Satti said, “Lots of improvements have taken place so far as the infrastructure is concerned. In Mina itself the train system, the community system at rami (Jamarat) is phenomenon, technologically.”

The number of Muslims throughout the world is increasing; naturally the number of pilgrims will increase. So the management of the pilgrims have to be considered. Mr. Satti said, “I am sure the Saudi authorities are already trying to keep pace with it and I am very much sure that the Kingdom is very much aware of it and the expansion plan of both Haram Sharif in Makkah and in the Masjid-e-Nabawi in Madinah, a lot have been done already. So it is a race and it will continue but I must acknowledge that a lot of improvement in the infrastructure and management has been taken place, I have observed personally.”

Judge Abdul Malek
Shariah Court Judge, Malaysia
While I was going along with Dr. Suhaib Hasan to perform Maghreb prayer in the Masjid at the top floor of the Safa Palace Makkah, I met Judge Abdul Malek of the Shari’ah Court of Malaysia, who performed Hajj before in 2008. This is his second Hajj. He told me while discussing, “There are lot of differences; infrastructure, transportation, organisation and management of crowd at Jamarat. It is very very easy.”

Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mali
I met a diplomat from the Foreign Ministry of Mali who is very much pleased and happy to see the arrangement in the Hajj this year and who said, “It is a good opportunity for the Muslims to build bridges among the Muslim brothers.”

Dr. Ehsan al-Ameen
Advisor to the President of Iraq
I met Dr. Ehsan al-Ameen, Advisor in the Office of President of Iraq who performed Hajj three times before. The last time he performed pilgrimage is about 15 years ago. Speaking about his experience of Hajj this year, Dr. al-Ameen said, “There are many differences. Every year, it is better from the last year. There is too different at Jamarat. 15 years before, only in Jamarat, 115 persons were died, you know. There were many difficulties. Now this year, I think this is the easier Hajj in the history.”

Dr. Al-Ameen also said, “It is better than before, but I think it needs to complete the project the monorail programme. The walking on the road is better than the past. I remember in the past while walking many people used to sit and sleep on the street. Now I follow this point specially and I find the street is all walking. I think the police are doing good work. They guide the people to the different directions.”

British Civil Servant
A young British civil servant who did his first Hajj in 2000 and wanted to remain anonymous performed Hajj this year. Comparing his experience of Hajj this year with that of previous one and the facilities, he said, “I think the facilities are phenomenal and I choose my word carefully; the first Hajj I did in 2000 and since then the facilities have been continually improved.”

“The Jamarat is now the manifestation of money they have spent on safety and this is phenomenal and there is another improvement for the ease of the Hujjaj,” said the young British civil servant who is in his early thirties and mentioned, “The Monorail is one classic example. I remember the conversation dated back to 2000 when I did my first Hajj: should we have a monorail? It is interesting because the cost-benefit of the Monorail is actually the cost-benefit of five days and for five days I don’t know how much monorail cost but I can imagine it’s nothing sort of over 700 million and 700 million for an infrastructure to be used only five days in a year, separate from testing, is a phenomenal testament how the government approaches what they wanted to do.”

He also mentioned another wonderful experience and made observation. He said, “I think the part of the infrastructure must be all the people in their individual areas doing their parts. The responsibility that everyone has to bear is phenomenal and I only pray that our Ummah should have patience generally. When the people on duty tell you ‘Ya Allah Haji, move from here.’ You may not like it; you may think he can talk to me nicely or I don’t speak this language, but what you don’t understand the part of the mechanism is to make it better for the ten thousands Hajis down the road, you can’t see and you don’t know but they know and they are following.”

Sunday, 18 December 2011

What the Pilgrims say about Hajj 2011

What the Pilgrims say about Hajj 2011

Dr. Mozammel Haque

There is no question or doubt that Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and every able body who can afford financially must perform Hajj. Now the world population, particularly the Muslim population is increasing; consequently the number of pilgrims will increase. It is a fact that the area of Holy sites, such as Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Makkah is fixed. I think it is another wonder of the world that millions of people moved in a constrained place in a constrained timeframe. Similarly, it is another wonder to manage a gathering of four and a half million pilgrims moving at the same time from one place to another place within that small area and to arrange for them adequate transportation, accommodation and feeding.

No doubt, the pilgrims are the guests of Allah the Almighty. Allah supports the cause and that’s why, it is going smoothly. Of course, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the people of Saudi Arabia have left no stone unturned to bring ease and comfort to the pilgrims through building roads, infrastructure and expansion of the Haramain. Let us see how the pilgrims who went to perform Hajj this year feel and what are their opinions, views and experience about Hajj in 2011. Irrespective of position, status, geographical affiliation, I interviewed pilgrims from the president of a country to the common man, belonging to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

Former President of Bangladesh
Former President of Bangladesh, General (Retired) H.M. Ershad, present chairperson of Jatiya Party said, “I have not heard any complain from anybody. All the Hajjis are so happy; they are so well look after and the medical facilities, water arrangement and the evacuation of casualties in case of accident was wonderful. I feel that the Saudi authorities tried heart and soul to look after every individual who has come and joined this Hajj.”

Former President Ershad said, “I actually on my behalf and on behalf of Bangladeshi congratulate the King Abdullah and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this achievement, wonderful achievement.

Prime Minister of Somalia
I met the Prime Minister of Somalia, Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, who came for the first time in Saudi Arabia. This is his first Hajj. He said, “It’s a life chance experience and I enjoyed it. The facilities are great; absolutely fabulous. I think the Saudi government has learnt and they perfected how to manage chaos. I think even for the US, to manage three million people at one time in small area is tough.”

Somali Prime Minister also said, “I think we are very thankful to the Saudi government for providing all this facilities to us, really they are real Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Really they are and I think Allah meant to put this religion in this place for good reasons and I think they did a good job.”

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Uganda
I met Mr. Uthman Serengi, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Uganda. This is his first Hajj. But his father made Hajj some time back. Speaking about his father’s experience of Hajj, Mr. Uthman said, “At Jamarat my father found such a nightmare for him. Of course, I know sometime back there was dead there. So this time I was also expecting problems but Alhamdo Lillah, it was such a small exercise I went through the Jamarat quite easily and then the staying at Mina was good. Alhamdo Lillah, the facilities at Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat are quite good.”

Mr. Uthman observed, “.I have seen thousands and thousands of people using the rail. It was really wonderful. The rail was quite spectacular. I was seeing every two minutes train was passing by and it was quite good particularly during Arafat and I am sure the pilgrims have found it very useful. My wife was also doing for the first time and she also said she is extremely happy and elated about the experience. Insha Allah we will do this again.”

Mr. Uthman also said, “The transportation was great; was very yuppie, very befitting, in fact we are flattered and humbled by the treatment we have been given, we just prayed to Allah to reward them abundantly for everything they have accorded to us.”

“We have an excellent Hajj. We just are praying to Allah to reward King Abdullah and the people of Saudia with good health and long life so that they can look after more and more pilgrims, Jazakamullah jazah,” said Mr. Uthman

Member, House of Lords, British Parliament
I met Lord Mohammed Altaf Sheikh, Peer of the House of Lords, who performed Hajj three times and two Umrahs before. Lord Sheikh believes that Hajj is just like going for Jihad; it’s a test; it is test of ones ability to respond to issues which are not very comfortable.”

Speaking about Hajj 60/70 years before, Lord Sheikh mentioned, “My mother used to tell me that my grandmother came on Hajj. I don’t know 60/70 years ago and at that time she was living in Kenya; so she travelled from Kenya, went to Sudan and came by boat from Sudan to Jeddah and it was very very difficult.”
,
Speaking about his own experience when he came for the first time, Lord Sheikh said, “I personally enjoy the first Hajj because when you come here for the first time you see the Ka’aba Sharif in front of you that is a rare real experience. At that time if you look at the Haram Sharif, the area around Haram Sharif was not doubled; there was very few quality hotels; for example, the floor of Safa Marwah was not cool; but now if you go you will see it is very cool at the moment but at the Bibi Hazera’s time it was quite different, it was open, it was quite two hills and of course it was very open.”

Speaking about the differences, Lord Sheikh said, “certainly there are differences now. There are more hotels now. Life is a little bit easy; even for people who can afford it. But people who cannot afford it undoubtedly, they would not be staying at international hotel, they would stay five six people seven or eight people in one room, where inadequate washing facilities.”

Baroness of British Parliament
I also met Baroness Uddin who came with her husband to perform her first Hajj this year but she performed her first Ummah 12 years ago. Speaking about her Hajj experience, Baroness Uddin said, “I had seen so many pictures of Hajj and I had also seen Hajj transmitted live on Television. But nothing comparing witnessing with your own eyes and feeling of being in this place nothing is comparable.”

“The kingdom has made the journey as easy as possible. We have seen hundreds and hundreds of men and women and many with families incredibly brave walking on the streets but I have seen no hardship in their face. This is due to the facilities provided by the Kingdom,” said Baroness Uddin and added, “Facilities are immensely immeasurable. I could not have imagined until I have seen it.”

She also said, “I believe no other country on earth manages this level of flow of people from different countries, from different continents and different backgrounds.”

Former British Minister

I met the former British Justice Minister, Mr. Shahid Malik, who is performing Hajj this year. This is his second Hajj. He said, “The progresses are incredible. If you look at the Monorail transport system, it is amazing. When I came it was steel concrete on the ground and now it is functioning and the people are using it.”

Former British Minister also said, “I think each year there is massive progress. I think the credit must go to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah and his leadership on this issue. King Abdullah said, don’t call me Majesty, call me the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. I think that’s say a lot about his commitment on this issue. It said a lot to the outside world, to the Muslim world about this issue and you can see it in the investment taking place.”

Mr. Malik observed, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 10/15 years time, Insha Allah, will be incredibly different from what you know the biggest investment in mainline railway structure which will connect Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah etc. You are also seeing massive massive home building programme that is taking place and massive expansion of the Haram.”

Governor of the State of Sokoto, Nigeria
I met the Governor of the state of Sokoto, Nigeria, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, during the last ten days of last Ramadan. He is a regular visitor to the Haram during Ramadan. So when I met him this time during Hajj, I enquired about his Hajj. Governor Aliyu said, “Alhamdo Lillah, I am so happy that the arrangement is so unique and so comprehensive that I must commend the Kingdom for such organisation because it goes to show that the Kingdom is doing a lot for the Muslims the world over.”

This year about 7,000 people came from the state of Sokoto alone and 100,000 from Nigeria this year. Governor Aliyu said, “Alhamdo Lillah people are so comfortable and lots of improvements from the previous Hajj as mentioned by many pilgrims came this year. Previously, the tent ruined, the Jamarat was a hell, but this year it is so simple, it is made easier, simpler and more comfortable. Even at Jamarat, people moved pillar to pillar easily. Allah accepts our Hajj.”

Governor Aliyu also observed, “Let me tell you the Kingdom is doing a lot to show that we are all God’s guests to the Holy Land. We were well received, well-treated and well-served, best of their ability. The problem of hosting millions of people at a particular time and moment I must commend the Kingdom, not many countries in this world, can do this, over three/four million guests at one time. Giving an adequate transportation, accommodation, feeding is a really wonderful job. Alhamdo Lillah, God supports the cause; that’s why we have a heat-free pilgrimage this year and equally I must repeat my recommendation to the Kingdom to its resources and to all people in this year’s Hajj. The jobs are well-done.”

Chief of the Defence Forces, Malaysia
I met the chief of the Defence Forces of Malaysia who performed Umrah a couple of times before, in 2007 and 2009 but this is his first Hajj. He recollected what his parents used to say: “My late parents had performed Hajj six or seven times. The process they have gone through was tedious as opposed to the present day. The story my late parents told me about their experience performing the Hajj and from my own personal experience, I could say that there is a vast difference now; because the infrastructure was very well developed. It is now more convenient and more efficient.”

“Now the infrastructure at Jamarat was very well developed by the Kingdom. That is positive development. You look at the monorail system. In times to come, the monorail from Mina to Arafat and to Muzdalifah is another positive development,” Mr, Jufi said.

Jufi also observed, “I think everybody is successfully able to perform their pilgrimage and at the end, everybody like me is very happy with the system, with the food, accommodation and the process I went through. This is something very great. I would like to reckon my observation to the King of Saudi Arabia for taking the trouble to ensure the development of the Holy Land and to ensure Muslims all over the world to be able to perform their Hajj efficiently and confidently.”

Ambassador of Pakistan to Brunei Darus Salam
I met Lt. Gen. (retired) Salauddin Satti who was posted after retirement in 2008 to Brunei Darussalam High Commission as an ambassador for two years and now returning back to Pakistan. Mr. Satti performed Hajj in 2006 but this time he performed Hajj along with his wife who did not perform Hajj before.

Mr. Satti said, “Lots of improvements have taken place so far as the infrastructure is concerned. In Mina itself the train system, the community system at rami (Jamarat) is phenomenon, technologically.”

The number of Muslims throughout the world is increasing; naturally the number of pilgrims will increase. So the management of the pilgrims have to be considered. Mr. Satti said, “I am sure the Saudi authorities are already trying to keep pace with it and I am very much sure that the Kingdom is very much aware of it and the expansion plan of both Haram Sharif in Makkah and in the Masjid-e-Nabawi in Madinah, a lot have been done already. So it is a race and it will continue but I must acknowledge that a lot of improvement in the infrastructure and management has been taken place, I have observed personally.”

Shariah Court Judge, Malaysia
While I was going along with Dr. Suhaib Hasan to perform Maghreb prayer in the Masjid at the top floor of the Safa Palace Makkah, I met Judge Abdul Malek of the Shari’ah Court of Malaysia, who performed Hajj before in 2008. This is his second Hajj. He told me while discussing, “There are lot of differences; infrastructure, transportation, organisation and management of crowd at Jamarat. It is very very easy.”

Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mali
I met a diplomat from the Foreign Ministry of Mali who is very much pleased and happy to see the arrangement in the Hajj this year and who said, “It is a good opportunity for the Muslims to build bridges among the Muslim brothers.”

Advisor to the President of Iraq
I met Dr. Ehsan al-Ameen, Advisor in the Office of President of Iraq who performed Hajj three times before. The last time he performed pilgrimage is about 15 years ago. Speaking about his experience of Hajj this year, Dr. al-Ameen said, “There are many differences. Every year, it is better from the last year. There is too different at Jamarat. 15 years before, only in Jamarat, 115 persons were died, you know. There were many difficulties. Now this year, I think this is the easier Hajj in the history.”

Dr. Al-Ameen also said, “It is better than before, but I think it needs to complete the project the monorail programme. The walking on the road is better than the past. I remember in the past while walking many people used to sit and sleep on the street. Now I follow this point specially and I find the street is all walking. I think the police are doing good work. They guide the people to the different directions.”

British Civil Servant
A young British civil servant who did his first Hajj in 2000 and wanted to remain anonymous performed Hajj this year. Comparing his experience of Hajj this year with that of previous one and the facilities, he said, “I think the facilities are phenomenal and I choose my word carefully; the first Hajj I did in 2000 and since then the facilities have been continually improved.”

“The Jamarat is now the manifestation of money they have spent on safety and this is phenomenal and there is another improvement for the ease of the Hujjaj,” said the young British civil servant who is in his early thirties and mentioned, “The Monorail is one classic example. I remember the conversation dated back to 2000 when I did my first Hajj: should we have a monorail? It is interesting because the cost-benefit of the Monorail is actually the cost-benefit of five days and for five days I don’t know how much monorail cost but I can imagine it’s nothing sort of over 700 million and 700 million for an infrastructure to be used only five days in a year, separate from testing, is a phenomenal testament how the government approaches what they wanted to do.”

He also mentioned another wonderful experience and made observation. He said, “I think the part of the infrastructure must be all the people in their individual areas doing their parts. The responsibility that everyone has to bear is phenomenal and I only pray that our Ummah should have patience generally. When the people on duty tell you ‘Ya Allah Haji, move from here.’ You may not like it; you may think he can talk to me nicely or I don’t speak this language, but what you don’t understand the part of the mechanism is to make it better for the ten thousands Hajis down the road, you can’t see and you don’t know but they know and they are following.”

Thursday, 15 December 2011

My Hajj 2011 Experience


My Hajj 2011 Experience

Dr. Mozammel Haque


I am fortunate enough this year to be invited by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. I must thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, who invited me as his guest along with others from the United Kingdom. It is a rare honour shown to us, to my person and to the Muslims throughout the country.

We came to the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, where we were well received by the Royal Protocol and then we were taken to the Jeddah Conference Palace where we stayed for one night and then we were taken next day morning to Makkah at Safa Palace where we fresh up ourselves and had fresh ablution and then went to Haram Sharif to perform Tawaf and Sa’i. Then we came to Mina, we stayed there and then went to Arafat to perform other religious functions as instructed by Islam. We did the rituals of Hajj according to the arrangements provided by the Royal Protocol.

I have done a lot of Hajj before. This is my 14th Hajj. The last Hajj I did 15 years ago and I have seen a lot of hardships during the Hajj. So now at an advanced age I so much appreciate all these facilities that have been given to us which has made our Hajj very easy that I thank Allah the Almighty first of all He has given me once again this life opportunity and secondly I thank the Saudi Monarch because of whom we are able to come for Hajj this year because there were no planning whatsoever to come for Hajj but suddenly out of blue the invitation came and within days all the things were prepared and we come here and we have been received by Royal Protocol at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport Jeddah and straight away we were taken to Jeddah Guest Palace and after performing our Umrah at Masjid al-Haram Makkah which was done also in a very easy way.

What I can say that the facilities which are provided to us they are because we are guest but the facilities that are provided to pilgrims they are in general are enormous, so big that no person could imagine what is the state of affairs now in comparison with what it was in thirty years ago. We also remember that many time some of the tents caught fire and then many many people had been burnt alive. That was because those tents did not have all these precautionary measures which can stop the fire.

I performed Hajj this time as Royal guest after nearly 15 years and I found situation everywhere, whether that is in Mina, Muzdalifah, Arafat and Jamarat completely different. There is no way to compare what I have noticed this time with those I had experienced and seen 20 years before. At that time, if you look at the Masjid al-Haram, the area around the Haram was not doubled; there were very few quality hotels nearby or far enough; the floor of Safa Marwah was not cool and now if you go you will see it is very cool at the moment.

Incredible progress has been made; each year there is massive progress. Massive construction and infrastructure is built up in Jamarat for stoning the Satan. Even the five floors and each floor is connected to one route. After stoning the Satan the pilgrims this time never turn back but they went straight to exit and then follow the direction to their tents.

Another wonder is the Monorail which is built up upon a very massive structure. The pilgrim can feel the care the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is taking for the welfare of the pilgrims every year by concentrating how to improve the Holy Sites.

The kingdom is doing a lot to show that we are all God’s guests to the Holy Land. We were well received, well-treated and well-served, best of their ability. The problem of hosting millions of people at a particular time and moment is enormous. I must commend the Kingdom not many countries in this world can do this. Over three/four million guests at one time and giving them an adequate transportation, accommodation, feeding is a really wonderful job. I think the credit must go to the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and his leadership. Above all, the pilgrims are the Guests of Allah Almighty. Alhamdo Lillah, God supports the cause and that’s why we have a heat free pilgrimage this year. Equally I must repeat my recommendation to the Kingdom, to their resources, to all people in this year’s Hajj. The job is well-done.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance Workshop at Watford Hertfordshire


International Conference on mechanism
how to deal with Muslim Minority

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Watford, Hertfordshire: Two-day conference titled “Juristic Reasoning in Regard to the Verification of Case Rationale as applied to Minority Jurisprudence” organised by the Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance (GCRG), London in cooperation with the Islamic Moderation Centre, Kuwait, held at the historic Hunton Park Hotel Conference Centre, Watford, Hertfordshire, from Saturday to Sunday, 26-27 November, 2011.

The conference was convened in the United Kingdom to create an understanding of Islamic rules and orders as far as the Muslim minorities are concerned. About twenty-six high-profile Islamic scholars from various countries including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Mauritania, United States of America, Germany, South Africa, Tunisia, France and Somalia attended the conference, which was held at the historic Hunton Park Hotel Conference Centre, Watford, Hertfordshire between 26 and 27 November, 2011.

Influential names such as renowned Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayah, Chairman of the Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance (GCRG), London; Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, President, World Muslim Congress, Saudi Arabia; Mr. Shahid Malik former Justice Minister of the UK, Dr. Adel Abdullah Al-Falah, Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Kuwait and Hamza Yusuf, Vice-Chairman of the Global Centre were among the speakers. The conference ended with the issuing of a New Resolution approved by all the delegates.

The Conference discussed three important issues, first of all, about the objectives of the conference; secondly, about the Fatwa by Ibn Taymiyya on Dar-ul-Harb and Dar-ul-Islam and thirdly, the Islamic rulings about Muslim minorities living in the east or in the west. I have the opportunity to interview some of the scholars about those three issues. Among them were Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, President, World Muslim Congress, Mr, Shahid Malik, former Justice Minister of the UK and Mr. Aftab Ahmad Malik, who is currently pursuing Ph.D. looking into the theological origin of Al-Qaeda and a global expert on Muslim Affairs of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and Mr. Jihad Hashim-Brown, Director of Research at the Tabah Foundation in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Objectives of the Conference
The workshop was discussing how to create an understanding of Islamic rules and orders so far as the minorities are concerned. Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef told me, “It is not required from the minorities to follow what has been done in the Muslim countries. Because they lived outside and the fatwa which was given to them makes them very upset; because they were asking to follow the Islamic rules like it was in Makkah and Madinah which is not possible. Of course, such thing as praying, fasting and other pillars of Islam, like this, nobody can change them. But as far as the daily life affairs, family matters and also co-existence with the non-Muslims; these are the things which has to be considered without any prejudice or without any narrow mindness. This is what the Global Centre is trying to introduce in this conference.”

Dr. Naseef said, “So this workshop is to create better understandings and puts the Islamic order, to make the Islamic community workable; you cannot force things. Islamic jurisprudence is very rich; you can make volumes out of them; and what about this minority. There is nothing about the present situation of minority. We have to create about this to make it easy; what is called is the verification of the situation. We have to verify the situation before you pass the judgement or give them the Fatwa. This is the process; we are at the beginning of the process. It needs cooperation, finance from different Muslim countries, institutions and universities and so on. If you want to create awareness in our Muslim countries; these institutions, organisations and universities of the Muslim countries should take part in this urgent, practical study of the cases, deep research into the situation and so on.”

Dr. Naseef also mentioned, “This conference is a part of different workshops continuing. It is not an easy job. It will take years to reach something recoverable to the communities but meanwhile we give them our Muslim communities assurances that we have the capabilities and abilities and the will to create the kind of situation which makes the Muslims happy living as minority in the east or in the west, still something can be useful.”

In this connection he mentioned about the European Council of Jurisprudence. He said, “I think the European Council of Jurisprudence have already started this process; they had a meeting last year and every time they meet they produce a fatwa, carefully studied to give the Muslims confidence that their Islam is rich with the solution which solves their problems.”

The Fatwa by Ibn Taymiyya
Confusion was created by an error in the manuscript of Fatwa by Ibn Taymiyya. It is one of many Fatwas written by renowned medieval scholar theologician called Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. He was asked by the inhabitants of Mardin in Turkey about the status of Mardin whether it retained Islam status or is it become Dar-ul-Harb. Mr. Aftab Malik said to me, “That was an unusual question. If we read the context, we will find Mongols had adopted the Muslim faith only a few decades prior to the Muslim lands. The people were not sure whether they were really Muslims or not. So they asked this question. Even Ibn Taymiyya responded by saying look Muslims have their law, Christians have their law. It is neither Dar-ul-Islam nor Dar-ul-Harb; it’s a composite.”

Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef also told me in an interview, “Ibn Taymiyya said it is neither Dar-ul-Harb nor Dar-ul-Islam. We have to co-exist; we have to recognise each other and we have to give rights to everybody. So it is a long history. It happened because of distortion unintentionally.”

Speaking about the mistake, Mr. Aftab Malik said, “When the Fatwa was written, typed and produced a manuscript some 700 years ago, a mistake in one word committed.”

A discrepancy has come up in some printed editions of the fatwa with regard to the final passage “The Muslims living therein should be treated according to their rights as Muslims, while the non-Muslims living there outside of the authority of Islamic Law should be treated according to their rights.” In some printed editions, the text is corrupted to read: “…while the non-Muslims living there outside of the authority of Islamic Law should be fought as is their due.”

This change in meaning is the consequence of the substitution of two letters in a single word. Instead of the correct word yu`a¯mal (should be treated), the word is rendered yuqa¯tal (should be fought). This typographic error changes the meaning of the phrase drastically.

Dr. Naseef said, “The Fatwa of Ibn Taymiyyah was printed in Egypt with an error of one word that was a typing mistake. It is an Indian scholar who found the error and Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayah also looked for the manuscript and in one of the manuscripts in Egypt Sheikh bin Bayah found the true statement of Ibn Taymiyya which is everybody should be treated accordingly and so Muslims should be staying with others.”

That typographic error in typing “forms the basis of many of the radical Islamists today. So people wanted to justify their project or their idea that they have legality, they have a legal precedent, they will cite the Ibn Taymiyya’s Fatwa to prove a legal precedent,” said Aftab Malik and observed, “A number of implications arise from the Fatwa; the first and foremost is basing their understanding of the type of misprint and the second aspect is a lot of individuals does not qualify they don’t understand what Dar-ul-Harb or Dar-ul-Islam means. They have no background, no authority. As I have said in my speech that these people have secular profession, not religious profession. Unfortunately, we have inherited this madness. Those people who are inviting us to take these matters have no qualifications to make the pronouncement in public. We are so illiterate religiously that some of us listen unfortunately to what they say.”

Dr. Naseef said, “This is misunderstanding; this is misinterpretation and misuse of what they are talking about Ibn Taymiyya’s Fatwa. This has harmed the Muslims everywhere.”

Mr. Aftab Malik also said, “Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayah offers us a hope; he offers a synthesis between the text of our religious forefathers the great scholars but also the context. He understands some of the Fiqh-an-Nas and the Fiqh-al-waqih. So he is a person who understands the jurisprudence of the people but he also understands the context as well but unfortunately in the 20th century Muslims are playing by the scholars who know the text but do not know context; and those who know the context do not know the text.”

Mr. Jihad Hashim-Brown said about this Fatwa and Dar-ul-Harb and Dar-ul-Islam controversy was the topic of the previous conference that took place in Mardin, Turkey two years ago. He said, “One of the outcomes of that conference is that the pre-modern or medieval classification of states or regions as being Houses of Harb (war) or Houses of Islam is no longer applies, there is no reason of continuing applying that because international relations have become much more sophisticated; so we need to take deep into that tradition and see that what instrument or methodology enable us to come to success to get into it and viewing it going.”

Mr. Shahid Malik
Referring to Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayah’s speech on integration, Mr. Shahid Malik said, “Integration was the way forward. One of the great challenges we have in this country still is the reluctance or lack of integration. It is on both sides, if you will, not just the Muslim problem, it’s a problem for our society and so I think whatever comes out on 12/12/12 conference integration is such an important theme I hope it is addressed there and I am always give a strong message to Muslims in the UK that although we are 3% of the population we can’t afford to think 3% we got to think 100% if we want our society to work, even if we believe that 97% are just thinking 97%. “

Former Justice Minister also referred to another point of Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayah’s speech, “One is text and context. It is so important, and it sounds quite poetic as well; that’s why we fly hopefully. It is really not just about the letter of the law but spirit of the law and there again it is really important theme Insha Allah, for next December 2012.”

Mr. Malik also said, “I am sure Insha Allah with the leadership that is here and the leadership that will be there at the 12/12/12 would get the kind of conclusion that Muslims all around the world are looking for and Insha Allah that would lead to a better age for Islam and for Muslims.”

Some comments and observations
about the Workshop
Dr. Naseef observed, “Our sources are limited; it needs big budget; every time we look for finance for our workshop, it needs attention of big Muslim organisations and Muslim countries to contribute or to take part in this research and do it themselves. I think, in my opinion, we should distribute the works, among people, individuals and organisations to adopt some of the research and they do; otherwise it would not be done.

Mr. Aftab Malik said, “I hope that Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayah and his Centre, the Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance (GCRG) start producing more policy directives; but you know it must be coming down to the masses. Because we don’t want to restrict to policy makers but I think the average person like myself like average Muslims we need to hear this because this gives hope.”

Mr. Hashim-Brown said, “The Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance was trying to reach deeply into the instrumental methodology inherent sacred law, sacred knowledge and find and draw on those dynamic methodologies to look at how we can find solutions to facilitate modern life in the contemporary societies for Muslims whether they still adhere to their religion, Islam or often times there are many obstacles challenges that are faced by Muslims the world over quite often in minority situations in the west.”

He also mentioned, “It would seem that as though there is no solution but in fact there are solutions and the mechanism to bring about new solutions are present in the traditions. So the ingredients of renewal are there; we just have to draw on them. Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayah’s efforts is to present some of these ingredients so said the methodology of renewal and draw people’s attention to them. They might very well enable more enlightened Islamic discourse for Muslims living in the west. “

Mr. Hashim-Brown also said, “The effort that has put on this Conference is very important and every little bit counts. It will have an impact in spreading an idea of grounded renewal of Islamic teachings and possibilities for cooperative and productive relationships of Muslims with the societies, of which they are members. So look like each event is extremely important because it pushes that understanding forward and it brings in advises in new people and take those things out and promote them to others. So it returns back to the very point you made that the people are hearing about that. Each little bit counts.”

Former British Justice Minister Mr. Shahid Malik commented, “I think this kind of workshop would lead to the conference in December next year or to give very strong guidance. But I also think there is a need to empower Muslims to be better citizens in the countries where they live. That might mean improving the quality of life and the participants better.”

Mr. Shahid Malik also said, “I also welcome this idea that Islam and Islamic principles are timeless in the sense that you can apply them to modern times as well. They are not static.”

Former Justice Minister of the UK said, “My advice is that after the 12/12/12 whatever the conclusion you come to, you should then do a road-show of this conclusion like in the UK, Road show in London, Birmingham, to Leeds, to Manchester, to Sheffield, to Nottingham, to Coventry, to Bradford. We got Muslim communities and talk about all these great scholars thought when they came together to conclusions they came to and I think in that way you start make sure that it goes to the grassroots and to the ordinary Muslims who can benefit from all these wonderful works taking place..”

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha - An Ambassador of Islam

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha: Truly an Ambassador
of Islam in letter and spirit

Dr. Mozammel Haque


Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha was a great dawee. He always thought it is our duty and responsibility first to remember our Creator and worship Him. He never failed to remember his Creator and submit to Allah the Almighty five times a day whether in sound health or in illness, either at home or abroad. Dr. Pasha followed Islam in letters and spirit and remembered his duty to Allah the Almighty as much as he could in his own life by performing his daily prayers wherever he was even in the Vatican city or in Moscow when it was under the communist rule of the then Soviet Union

Dr. Pasha practised every tenet of Islam
“Dr. Pasha was one of the most honest and genuinely always held fear of Allah's reckoning on the Day of Judgement. May Allah swt accept his unparalleled services to Islam. He was true to his responsibilities and faith,” said Mr. Yousuf Bhailok, former-Secretary General and now Board of counsellor of MCB, member of the UMO and close colleague of late Dr. Pasha and also Chair of Al Jamiah al Islamiyah Darul Uloom Lancashire (Training Imams).

Mr. Bhailok also said, “Dr. Pasha practised every tenet of Islam to the letter and even his message in his will was words of wisdom for us to follow. As a young man he inspired me, he taught me that Taqwa means to face all challenges with fortitude and never to compromise on Islamic principles.”

Dr. Pasha involved in conveying the true message of Islam
And secondly, Dr. Pasha thought and used to say to me, it is also our duty and responsibility to convey the message of Islam to our fellow workers, colleagues and neighbours and that’s why he never missed whether he is in good health or in sickness to organise Prophet’s (peace be upon him) birthday celebration where he invited everybody irrespective of religion, caste and colour including Ministers, high government officials and members of other faith communities. Lord Sheikh, the Peer of the House of Lords, told me “Dr. Pasha had been involved in conveying the true message of Islam and he had devoted many years not only to give this message but also being involved in promoting peace and harmony between various racial and religious groups.”

Dr. Pasha never compromise on matters
relating to the teachings of Islam
Dr. Pasha was a man of principle, ideology and commitment and he never compromised on this principle, on any matters relating to the teachings of Islam and ready to struggle and suffer like any other ideological committed person. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and presently Chairman of the Muslim Aid Trust, told me, “Dr. Pasha was a man of principle and he never compromised on matters relating to the teaching of Islam. I admired his uncompromising stand which he conveyed with great humility and integrity to Ministers and civil servants when demanding the due rights of the Muslim community.”

Sir Iqbal also recollected and said, “His role during the years of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs was instrumental in bringing the Muslim community together to defend the honour of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). No doubt, he has earned a rightful place in the Jannatul Ferdous. And May Almighty Allah give all of us strength to follow his last message which he conveyed in his will.”

His Actions and pronouncement never weakened
Not only Dr. Pasha remained firm, unchangeable and unyielding in his conviction and mission, but his action, deeds and assertion never weakened. Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haque, the Secretary General of the Pakistan-based World Muslim Congress, told me, “Late Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha was one of those Muslims who had dedicated all his life to the service of Islam and Muslim. Even in the most difficult times he continued with his mission and even after 9/11 his activities and his pronouncement never weakened. He was a man who respected all other religions and his positive approach was a key to his success. He was a man of continued struggle and made a very successful life.”

Dr. Pasha’s single motto was unity of Muslim community
As a dedicated servant to the motto of the Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO) to achieve unity of the Muslim communities he spent his entire life for his mission and did not find time to enter into wedlock. Sometimes I used to say humorously to Dr. Pasha that it seems that you married to UMO. Haji Ahmad Thomson said, “Dr Pasha also sought to educate in the best way those who knew little about Islam or Muslims and who therefore were the unintentional victims of their own ignorance, misconceptions and blind prejudices. Blessed as he was with a keen intellect, a sound knowledge of the Qur’an and the Hadith and above all a sense of humour, even before it became fashionable to label all the Irish and all the Muslims as terrorists, Dr Pasha made it abundantly clear that Islam is a middle way, which has nothing to do with terrorism or extremism.”

“As well as striving to unite the various Muslim communities in the British Isles, Dr Pasha extended the hand of friendship to everyone and showed genuine respect for those who had different beliefs and different ways of understanding life. In the words of Imam Junayd, may Allah be pleased with him, he was like the earth which supports everyone and like the sky which shades everything. I have never heard anyone speak ill of Dr Pasha – and shame on anyone who has or does,” mentioned Hajji Ahmad.

The motto of the UMO, which is clearly enshrined in its Constitution, ‘Hold fast to the rope of Allah and be not divided.’ According to Dr. Pasha, this is a great opportunity for Muslims coming from various parts of the world to demonstrate the potentiality of Islam as a uniting force, as a cohesive force. It will eliminate discrimination on whatever grounds; race, colour or ethnicity – all this is taken care of in the Islamic faith, because the Holy Qur’an is very clear: All humanity comes from Adam and Eve and Adam came from dust. Exactly what our Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his Farewell Message on the Mount of Arafah. So the motto of UMO is to achieve unity of the Muslim community and to promote Daw’ah.”

To achieve the above goal, Dr. Pasha pursued single-handedly all through his dedicated objective of uniting Muslim communities and uplift their situation. Even before his death, Dr. Pasha still remembered his duty towards his co-religionists and left a last message for the Muslim community which was read out by Haji Ahmad Thomson after the Janaza prayer, “It is my wish and desire that the British Muslim community plays an important role in communicating the message of Islam to the British people and rejuvenate their moral and spiritual standards in accordance with the Divine Shari’a. I have spent 40 years of my life in this country to promote unity between Muslims of various nationalities settled here and Da’wah Islamiya. This is exactly the motto of UMO (Union of Muslim Organisations) for whom I happened to be one of the founders and Secretary General of.”

Death of Dr. Pasha a great loss of Muslim community
Dr. Pasha left the Muslim Community in the sea of sadness. Dr Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre and the Regents Park Central London Mosque, said, “The death of Dr. Pasha is a great loss of the Muslim Community.” Because some of the works that Dr. Pasha started remain incomplete. Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham said, “I am very saddened because his work has not been completed because he was constantly trying, first of all, to introduce the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) birthday and many other events and then he was campaigning at the labour party conferences, as well as the political party conferences.”

Dr. Pasha was a great dawee and truly an ambassador of Islam in letters and spirit. Haji Ahmad said, Dr. Pasha “was both a pioneer and an ambassador in the way of Allah.”

The Muslim community needs someone to carry on the works that Dr. Pasha left incomplete. Dr. Al-Dubayan said, “What we hope now is that the Muslim leaders in our community will learn from Dr. Pasha and will have the same feeling and love for Islam and Muslims and for everybody as Dr. Pasha had.”

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha - A leader dedicated to Islam and Muslim



Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha: A leader
dedicated to Islam and Muslim

Dr. Mozammel Haque


Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, born in Madras in South India, graduated from Madras University in 1950 and went on to study Law. He was enrolled as an advocate at Madras High Court; however, he decided to leave and go to study further in America, where he obtained his LL.M. from Wisconsin University in 1960 and SJD (Doctorate in Juridical Science), equivalent to PhD in the United Kingdom from New York University in 1963.

He came to the UK in 1965 and was persuaded to stay by a religious scholar as there was a need there to organize the British Muslim community. In 1970 he founded the famous Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom and Ireland, an organization that has been actively engaged to enhance the position of Muslims in UK and Europe.

Two years ago, in January 2005, Dr. Pasha was awarded an OBE by the Queen for his contribution to the Muslim community and multicultural harmony. Dr. Pasha was also honoured in 2006 by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the London Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) for his lifetime services to the Muslim community in Britain. Last November, 2007 the Global Peace and Unity (GPU) 2007 also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pasha.

Dr. Pasha is such a great personality and a dedicated Muslim leader to the service of Islam and British community that I was enthralled to write a profile on him after interviewing his personal opinion and comments on several issues of the Muslim community in this country.

Interview with Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha
To pray and practise Islam in a non-Muslim country and to help other Muslims to do right is the passion of Dr. Pasha’s life. Speaking about the passion of his life, Dr. Pasha said, “My life is conditioned upon following the principles of Islam daily in my daily life. The most important thing which I found was prayers five times a day and Friday congregational prayer in a mosque. So when I went to America I was able to pray five times in my room but I was worried about Friday congregational prayers.”

President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA)
of the Wisconsin University
In order to have a place for Friday congregational prayer, Dr. Pasha began to gather the Muslim students coming from different parts of the world. “In the University of Wisconsin, there were about 200 Muslim students. I made contact with some of them and found positive response from them for the proposal for a congregational prayer. There was no Mosque no facilities. I approached a brother from Indonesia, a scholarship holder. He had a very big hall in his apartment just like a Mosque. In America, the apartments are luxurious, very big. So I suggested him to let his hall for Friday prayer. He was delighted to accept.”

Dr. Pasha was elected as the President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the University of Wisconsin in 1958. He negotiated with the University to get a hall in the students union where the Muslim students can make their Friday prayers. “We got the permission, Alhamdu Lillah.”

Founder-member of Muslim Students
Association of USA and Canada (MSA)
Dr. Pasha is one of the founders of Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada (MSA) which developed as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Speaking about the founding of the Islamic Council of North America,

Dr. Pasha came to London in 1965. He found Dr. Muhammad Hoballah, Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre and Regents Park Mosque. Dr. Pasha met him in Washington. The Director introduced Dr. Pasha to Dr. Al-Gayoushi, the Assistant Director of the Islamic Centre, who gave him the facilities to organize Muslims. Dr. Pasha formed an Ad hoc Committee to convene a conference of Muslim organizations in the United Kingdom.

UNION of Muslim Organisations (UMO)
Speaking about the formation of the Union of the Muslim Organisations of United Kingdom and Ireland, (UMO), Dr. Pasha said, “First national conference of Muslim organizations was convened at the Islamic Cultural Centre in 1970. Nobody knew me, nobody knew anybody. But they know Islamic Cultural Centre. Muslim organizations responded to our call, read the constitution and we formed the Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was July 19, 1970. Alhamdu Lillah, we carried out with 38 founding members of the Union. Since then we never looked back. Each year the number increased and is increasing. There were only 200 Muslim organizations recognized in the United Kingdom. Now there are nearly a thousand. The UMO’s Membership is 216 Muslim organizations at present.”

After the formation of the UMO, the first priority was to find a suitable place which will be the Headquarters of the UMO. The Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre suggested we move to our own premises as the trustees of the Islamic Cultural Centre are the Muslim ambassadors of all the Muslim countries. Ibrahim Bawani suggested, ‘Dr. Pasha in this country nobody will give you money for Headquarters; the only man who will give you is King Faisal.’”

Dr. Pasha travelled to Saudi Arabia to ask King Faisal for help. “King Faisal was so happy to know that we formed a Union of Muslim Organizations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He said, ‘This was my dream. I can give you anything you want. King was in such a happy mood that he promised 250,000 pounds to build a UMO Centre.’ 250,000 pounds at that time in 1970, was today equivalent to about 5 million pounds,” said Dr. Pasha.

After coming back to London, Dr. Pasha met the then Saudi Ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in London. In 1980, Saudi Arabia and Iraq helped to buy a property which became the Headquarter of the UMO.

Motto of UMO
Speaking about the motto of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “If you see our Constitution, it says, ‘Hold fast to the rope of Allah and be not divided.’ This is a great opportunity for Muslims coming from various parts of the world to demonstrate the potentiality of Islam as a uniting force, as a cohesive force. It will eliminate discrimination on whatever grounds; race, colour or ethnicity – all this is taken care of in the Islamic faith, because the Holy Qur’an is very clear: All humanity comes from Adam and Eve and Adam came from dust. Exactly what our Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his farewell message on the Mount of Arafah. So the motto of UMO is to achieve unity of the Muslim community and to promote Daw’ah.”

Achievements and Demands of UMO
Speaking about the aims, activities and achievements of the UMO, Dr. Pasha mentioned about getting the permission to build Mosques, to have time-off for prayers, funding for Muslim schools, representation of Muslims in the British Parliament, outlawing religious discrimination and incitement to religious hatred, official holidays for Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha and application of Muslim Family Law.

Permission to build Mosques
Dr. Pasha said, “The first thing I did was to write to Mr. Roy Jenkins, MP, the then Home Secretary, asking him to advise Local Councils to grant planning permission to build mosque in each area of this country. So, Alhamdu Lillah, we succeeded: the Home Secretary wrote to all local authorities to give positive response to the Muslim community’s demands for a Mosque.”

European Convention of Human Rights
Lord Irwin, the then Lord Chancellor, succeeded in getting Parliament’s approval to have this incorporated into the British Law. Article 9 of this Convention guarantees freedom of religion to all citizens of Europe under which we are claiming our religious rights, said Dr. Pasha.

Funding for Muslim schools
Speaking about the third achievements of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “Thirdly, we wanted funding for Muslim Schools. Catholic and Church of England Schools receive state funding; Jewish Schools also get state funding. So we succeeded in getting state funding for Muslim Schools. The first one was the Islamia Primary School of Brother Yusuf Islam; and then al-Furqan School in Birmingham. Now, Alhamdu Lillah, there are now 7 State-funded Muslim Schools out of a total of about 120 schools.”

Representation of Muslims in British Parliament
Speaking about the fourth achievement of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “UMO organized and held so many meetings in Parliament and so many fringe meetings in the party conferences – in the Conservative Party and the Labour Party conferences. We put forward UMO’s demands for representation of Muslims in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. We succeeded, Alhamdu Lillah. There are four Muslims in the House of Commons and five in the House of Lords. This number is not sufficient. This number is not commensurate with our numbers. We have got more than two and a half million Muslims. Accordingly, we should have more than 35 Muslims in the House of Commons and more than 25 in the House of Lords. We are demanding and we will continue.”

Religious Discrimination and Incitement to Religious Hatred
Speaking about the next demand of the UMO, Dr. Pasha said, “Our next demand was for a bill which will outlaw religious discrimination and incitement to religious hatred. This Labour government promised and fulfilled the promise but, unfortunately, this bill was watered down, not to our expectations. I hope the next Parliament will continue our demand that this should be strengthened on the same lines as the Race Relations Act of 1976 to make it a criminal offence to discriminate against Muslims in employment and incitement to religious hatred.”

Blasphemy Law
“Law of Blasphemy applies to Christian religion only. Lord Scarman of the then Law Commission said this is not right. This is a multi-cultural multi-religious society. All religions should be treated equally,” said Dr. Pasha.

Holidays for two Eids and
Application of Family Law
Dr. Pasha said, “So far our demand is to have official holidays for Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha for the Muslim Employees and the application of Muslim Family Law. This is our very very important demand. Britain, being a multi-religious society, the Muslim community must have the right to practise the tenets of Islam. In our religion, the Muslim Family Law is obligatory and it deals with personal matters only. It is not affecting other people’s rights.”

Dr. Pasha also mentioned his personal views and opinions on some of the major issues of the Muslim community in this country, such as integration and cohesion, Hijab and Muslim education.

Integration and cohesion
“People are speaking about integration, cohesion and all this kind of things. We say, we are all for integration, but not for assimilation. Because Islam is a religion, is an ideology, and a way of life. We cannot abandon our cultural and religious values in order to achieve integration. We are integrated but we have got our own religious cultural identity. That means there will be no assimilation, not to subscribe to it,” said Dr. Pasha and added, “But integration, we are fully to it because we believe Islam is a religion for the whole of mankind and Allah has categorized us as the best Ummah.”

Hijab
Dr. Pasha said, “I will suggest Suratul Ahzab, which says, ‘O Prophet, Tell your wives, your daughters and the believing women to cover their bodies with Hijab; because this will be a source of identity that they are Muslims and this will also be a source of protection against evil doers. This is Order from Allah the Almighty. There is no choice for the Muslims here. The women are following the Order of Allah the Almighty, not my order or the order of the husband or order of anybody else. Allah the Almighty has made modesty of a woman a requirement for their entering into the Paradise. It is for their benefit and for wide morality in society. Therefore, wearing a Hijab is compulsory for the protection of woman and for the protection of man as well to protect their modesty. Allah has created man and woman and He knows which is good for the human society.”

Education
Dr. Pasha mentioned, “State funding to Muslim Schools will only increase the capacity of Muslims to communicate with non-Muslims. Muslim Schools will not be a ghetto schools; Muslim schools will open its doors to non-Muslims because Muslim schools will create their places for the Muslim children to inculcate the Islamic ethos and to build up their community in accordance with Islamic values while following the national curriculum. They will follow the National Curriculum.”

Interfaith
Dr. Pasha said, “Interfaith, I think, is very useful institution. I have been myself member of the World Council for Religion and Peace. I have been a member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Association of Religious communities and I think this is a useful Forum to eradicate misunderstanding about different religions and other peoples religions,” said Dr. Pasha and added, “At the same time, it is my humble request to those people, Muslims, who are participating in this interfaith, not to be politically correct in their approach but to state clearly what Islam stands for. We are not offending anybody but we are only trying to put the case of Islam in its total perspective.”

Alcohol
Dr. Pasha said, “They are saying, Jesus took the last supper with wine. There is no proof of this. Whichever is intoxicating, which removes your senses of discriminating right and wrong is forbidden. But if they are drinking it is their problem. We are not trying to criticize anybody. But we will not drink alcohol ourselves. But we will be part of multi-faith dialogue. We will explain the true benefits of interfaith. We will say, Moosa (peace be upon him) and Issa (peace be upon him) - both of them foretold the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) very clearly in their Books – Torah and Injeel. In the Bible, it is said clearly that after me a prophet will come whose name is ‘Pericletos’ (meaning the Praised ones) but clearly mention in the Bible of Barnabus as ‘Mohamana’ in Aramaic language."



Published in The Muslim Weekly, London

24 March 2008

Friday, 25 November 2011

King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue - A Big Achievement



King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue:
A big Achievement

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Jeddah: Saudi Arabia: King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue was established on 3rd August 2003 towards fostering a national dialogue between people who hold different views. The Centre came into existence after the First National Meeting, which was held in Riyadh. This was followed by other national meetings whose subjects were chosen with care and concern so as to be of importance to the needs of society.

The Centre aims to provide an appropriate and permanent environment for national dialogue among individuals within Saudi society, in order to realize the general welfare and preserve national unity on the basis of the Islamic creed.

I enquired Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef about this King Abdul Aziz Centre for national Dialogue. Dr. Naseef said, “Last Ramadan, there was a meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on dialogue. First of all, on 24th of Ramadan which was 21st of August, the meeting took place in the office of the Sheikh Abdullah al-Saleh al-Husseini, the Chairman of the al-Haramain al-Sharafian. The meeting took place in his office. We discussed about all the issues and then in the evening the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, on the same day, on the 25th of Ramadan he greeted the committee, encouraged by saying the Centre is doing very well.”

Centre – a big achievement
Dr. Naseef also mentioned, “The culture of dialogue is spreading among the people, in the organisations and even within the families, King Abdullah said. You can be proud of that you have introduced as a committee and as a centre - King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue as we introduced the culture of dialogue within the families. Now the people are speaking within their children, people with their wives and man with the woman and with other members of the family in a decent language and accepting the other ideas and so on. So he said this is a big achievement and congratulated the centre for this great achievement.”

The King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue strives to promote the culture of dialogue among the groups comprising the society of the nation. Looking towards the nation’s hopes and aspirations, the centre aims to contribute by participating in offering the prerequisites needed for prosperity and civilization.

Death of Dr Pasha a Great Loss of the Muslim Community



Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha Passes Away:
A Great loss of the Muslim Community


Dr. Mozammel Haque
The death of Dr. Pasha is a great loss of the Muslim Community. I am sure that the younger next generation will remember always the remarkable efforts and achievements of Dr. Pasha for long time,” said Dr Ahmed al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre to me and added, “What we hope now is that the Muslim leaders in our community will learn from Dr. Pasha and will have the same feeling and love for Islam and Muslims and for everybody as Dr. Pasha had.”

Muslim Community of Britain is in the sea of sadness with the passing of Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, pioneer community leader, on Wednesday, 23rd of November 2011 (Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raajioon –To God we belong and to Him we return)).

For more than forty years from 1970 to 2011 Dr. Pasha relentlessly tried to improve the situation of Muslims and after 2001 he tried to convince the whole world, particularly the people of the United Kingdom that the British Muslims are the peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of this country through his speeches, statements and press releases of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the United Kingdom & Ireland (UMO) of which he was the founder and Secretary General.

Dr. Pasha, 81, devoted his whole life and time for the community service, for the well-being of the British Muslims through his organisation, UMO.

Dr. Pasha was awarded an OBE in January, 2005 by the Queen of the United Kingdom for his contribution to the Muslim Community and multicultural harmony. The British Muslim Community also acknowledged his devotion, dedication and perseverance and he was honoured in 2006 by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, for his lifetime services to the Muslim Community in Britain.

In 2007, the Global Peace and Unity (GPU) also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pasha.

The Janaza prayer of Dr. Pasha was held at the Islamic Cultural Centre and the Regent Park Central London Mosque after the Jumah prayer on Friday, 25 November 2011.

Dr. Pasha started his community service by establishing UMO in the Islamic Cultural Centre, London and the British Muslim Community gave him the warmest farewell from this world for his blissful and heavenly life Hereafter by praying farewell Janaza at the same place, Islamic Cultural Centre and Regent Park Central London Mosque on Friday, 25th of November 2011 after the Jumah prayer, where he never consciously missed any Friday Jumah prayer, while he was in sound health in London.




Dr. Pasha was placed on rest at Garden of Peace graveyard, Ilford, England, before Maghreb, on Friday, 25 November 2011. It was attended by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Barrister Haji Ahmed Thompson and community leaders, Religious leaders, Ulema and other members of the Muslim community. Dr. Suhaib Hasan led another Janaza Prayer at the graveyard and made a special dua (supplication) after placing the body of Dr. Pasha at rest

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hajj-e-Mabrouk to you all from Holy Sites of Mina Arafat and Muzdalifah

Hajj-e-Mabrouk to you all from the
Holy Sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah

Dr. Mozammel Haque

MINA: MAKKAH: I wish all of you who have performed Hajj this year a Hajj-e-Mabrouk and others a happy Eid Mubarak from the Holy Sites of Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Masjid-al-Haram in the Balad al-Ameen. The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah congratulated all Muslims in the world in an address to the pilgrims on Monday, the 7th of November 2011. “From the land of the sacred message and revelation, I congratulate you and Muslims everywhere on the occasion of the Eid-ul-Adha,” the King said in his speech.

King Abdullah congratulates all Muslims the world over
The King prayed for the Muslim Ummah’s security and stability. “When security and stability prevails, societies grow, the economy prospers and the Ummah moves forward. Muslim societies should use Hajj as an occasion to learn. Among the great aims of Haj are unity, solidarity and getting rid of dissent and hatred,” the King said.

The huge number of pilgrims coming from different corners of the world to fulfil their fifth obligatory rite convinces anyone of the importance of ideas such as diversity, tolerance and dialogue, the king said. “The true image of the unified Ummah emerges during the Haj. They all have assembled with only one objective and in response to the call of Allah and in sincere devotion to the Almighty. Wherever we go we hear nothing but the sound of Talbiya (the declaration of ‘We are here in response to the call of Allah, the One’),” the king said.

King Abdullah added that an important lesson to be learned from Hajj is that pilgrims are ready to suffer anything when they go out in response to the call of Tawhid (belief in the oneness of God). The king said he learned a lot from watching the pilgrims every year. “I look at them during their walking and wandering around. I gain a lot from looking at them and I draw a unique energy from those huge crowds. I admiringly watch the look of satisfaction and tranquility in their faces. They also enjoy the blessings of security and serenity prevailing in this country. They are calm and quiet, the older ones are sympathetic to the young, the rich helps the poor,” he said, adding that such a scene could be observed only in the holy land.

“This good land on which pilgrims and visitors converge, with Allah’s blessing, enjoys security and stability as a result of the prayer of our father Ibrahim (peace be upon him). His prayer was ‘My Lord, make this a city of peace and security, and protect me and my sons from worshipping idols’ (Holy Qur’an Surah: Ibrahim, Verse: 35).”

The king also said serving the pilgrims is a great honor for the Kingdom. “We only seek the reward and help from Allah Almighty for undertaking the responsibility of serving the pilgrims,” he said.

This year Hajj - an unprecedented success –
Crown Prince Naif of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Crown Prince Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, said international situations have changed and there were expectations that some others would exploit the occasion of Hajj to carry out chaotic deeds, but thanks to Almighty Allah, it did not happen. The Crown Prince made this statement while declaring the Hajj an unprecedented success, while stressing that this year’s pilgrimage was a greater success than in the past years.

He was speaking at a reception accorded to the officers of the Hajj security forces at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Makkah. “The fact is that we should thank all pilgrims because they have proved that they are Muslims respecting their obligatory rituals and they were all cooperative,” the crown prince added.

Prince Naif said the authorities were only concerned in making the Hajj easier and hassle-free for all Muslims.” We do not look at the country of the pilgrim or to any political issues. We view him as a pilgrim and Muslim, and so we should offer him whatever that makes his Hajj comfortable, safe, healthy and peaceful,” the prince said.

The Crown Prince also said every citizen should strive to guard the security of the country because there are some who are driven by others to positions that do not suit them and are made to deal in matters that are unlawful and harmful.

Hajj Free of Contagious diseases
Speaking at a press conference at MINA Emergency Hospital, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeh, the Health Minister of Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday declared this year’s Hajj totally free from infectious diseases or any cases that required quarantining. “The precautionary and preventive measures taken by the ministry led to pilgrims being safeguarded from all kinds of infections,” Al-Rabeeah said.

Another key step was the Ministry’s rigorous watch at all entry points into the Kingdom to detect if any incoming pilgrim was carrying symptoms of infections and to take immediate action if any suspicious case was found, the Minister said. “Preventive doses against meningitis were given to 365,777 pilgrims, oral polio vaccines to 532,400 pilgrims and yellow fever vaccines to 200,000 pilgrims at various entry points to the Kingdom,” the Minister said

The field health teams of the ministry handled 3,500 cases of sick pilgrims without sending them to hospital, the Minister said, while enumerating the accomplishments of his ministry during the Hajj. “The Ministry’s hospitals conducted 470 specialized heart catheterizations, 20 open heart surgeries to pilgrims in addition to a number of patients waiting to undergo the surgery in the next two days. The hospitals also conducted 886 kidney dialyses and 179 endoscopies,” the Minister said.

The Minister put the number of pilgrims who visited health centers in Makkah and Madinah at 421,760 and those who visited outpatient clinics in Makkah and the holy sites at 88,635. “These achievements attest to the Ministry of Health’s capability to offer high quality services to pilgrims,” the Minister said.

I am grateful to King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque, who has invited me along with others to perform Hajj 2011.

British Muslim VIP Guests Perform Hajj 2011




British Muslim VIP Guests perform Hajj this year

Dr. Mozammel Haque

MINA, MAKKAH: I am fortunate enough this year to be invited by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Now we have been doing the rituals of Hajj according to the arrangements provided by the Royal Protocol. I have done a lot of Hajj before and seen a lot of hardships during the Hajj. So now at an advanced age I very much appreciate all these facilities that have been given to us which has made our Hajj very easy. I thank Allah the Almighty first of all. He has given me once again this life opportunity and secondly I thank the Saudi Monarch because of whom we are able to come for Hajj this year because there was no planning whatsoever to come for Hajj but suddenly out of blue the invitation came and within days all the things were prepared and we come here and we have been received by Royal Protocol in the Airport and straight away all the guests were taken to Jeddah Conference Palace and we performed our Umrah at Masjid al-Haram which was done also in a very easy way.

What I can say that the facilities which are provided to us they are because we are guest but the facilities that are provided to pilgrims they are in general are enormous, so big that no person could imagine what is the state of affairs now in comparison with what it was in thirty years ago. We also remember that many time some of the tents caught fire and then many many people have been burnt alive. That was those tents did not have all these precautionary measures which can stop the fire.

Revolutionary Development in Transportation -
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan





Revolutionary development in the transportation in the Holy sites took place, said the leader of the VIP Guests from the UK, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London and mentioned about the services that are provided here. “The authorities here did the best for us, to welcome us, to facilitate our Hajj. As regards the hospitality I have to admire the hospitality we have seen in accommodation, in food, in transport and in everything and these are something that we have to thank.”

Every year King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, invites Muslims from different parts of the world to perform Hajj as Royal guest. So far 18,000 Muslims from around the globe have performed Hajj during the past years as guests of King Abdullah. This year Hajj 2011 “King Abdullah will host 1,400 pilgrims from around the globe,” said Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs. Out of 1,400 pilgrims invited by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, 30 are from the United Kingdom.

This year 2011 the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has invited 30 Muslims from the United Kingdom. At the same time, there are another 20 guests who are actually hosted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia. So this year there are 50 guest altogether from the United Kingdom – 30 VIP and 20 from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

This 30 invited Royal guests include Muslim leaders; those who are people of influence, those who also serve the Muslim community, Ulema and religious scholars of different religious schools of thought in the UK. Among these VIP people are some politicians, such as Lord Mohammad Sheikh and his wife, Lady Sheikh, from the Conservative Party. There is Baroness Uddin from the House of Lords and Shahid Malik, the former Communities Minister from the Labour Party.

Similarly, the Muslim scholars are from different major groups of the Muslim organizations in the UK, for example, some scholars from Ahle-Hadith, some scholars of Deobandis, there are some scholars from other organizations.

These 30 guests of the Royal Protocol are British nationals, they are Muslim leaders, Muslim scholars and media people and some politicians; but as regards their ethnicity and cultural heritage, they are Muslims of different cultural heritage, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Muslims from Saudi Arabia itself, Muslims from Tunisia and many other countries.

Similarly, the other guests with the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs are those groups of people who are really playing an important role in the Muslim unity and giving service to the Muslim community. They are British nationals but of different ethnic origins.

The leader of this VIP Guests from the UK, Dr. al-Dubayan, said, “This year there is a message. And that message of Hajj is a message of Peace. Hajj is an occasion of more dialogue and better relationship. The Hajj in Makkah is really the biggest demonstration of peace in the world. The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Nawaf actually has the same concern and that’s why Muslims from different religious schools of thought, people of different ethnic origins come together to demonstrate the message of Hajj and also of good relations and better chance of dialogue among themselves and also with the scholars of Saudi Arabia.”

Monday, 31 October 2011

Holy Makkah is fully ready to receive Guests of Almighty Allah

Holy Makkah is fully ready to

receive Guests of Almighty Allah


Dr. Mozammel Haque

For the last four weeks I have been writing in this column about Hajj and what the British intending pilgrims have to do before going for Hajj. I think, now the time has come to inform the intending pilgrims about the rules and regulations, the facilities and arrangement on the ground in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Arrival of Pilgrims
All the preparation has been made in Makkah al-Mukarramah to receive millions of pilgrims in this year’s Hajj. Hajj flights started reaching in Saudi Arabia on 29 September and will continue until the end of October. The departure flights are supposed to start from 10th of November and end on 10th of December 2011.

The first batch of pilgrims for this year’s Hajj reached at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, on Wednesday, 28th of September. The batch consisted of two groups of South African pilgrims. The first flight carrying Indian pilgrims for Hajj reached Madinah al-Munawwarah on Thursday, 29th of September. A total of 170,491 pilgrims from India will perform Hajj this year. On the same day, the first batch of pilgrims, 284 in number, from the southern provinces of Thailand reached Jeddah. Some 13,000 pilgrims from Thailand will be coming for Hajj this year.

On Friday, 30th of September, the first batch of pilgrims, 205 in number from Pakistan reached Jeddah. A total of 180,000 Pakistani pilgrims will be going for Hajj this year. On the same day, the first batch of Chinese pilgrims reached Jeddah. A total of 13,800 pilgrims will leave China this year and they are expected to reach Saudi Arabia by 23 October.

All Hajj Pilgrims need to have vaccinated
The Saudi Ministry of Health has asked pilgrims to make sure that they are vaccinated against meningitis, cholera, yellow fever and dengue fever. It is learnt that disease-detection equipment has been deployed at the health centres of King Abdul Aziz International Airport and Jeddah Islamic Port. Specialised team will review the health certificates of passengers to see what vaccinations they have had. All the 16 entry points of the pilgrims into the Kingdom will be strictly monitored against any contagious disease.

All Hajj Pilgrims to be fingerprinted
It is also reported that all Hajj Pilgrims will be fingerprinted on their arrival in Saudi Arabia. Hajj plans are being implemented at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz Airport in Madinah, Jeddah Islamic Port and other Makkah entrances.

Smart Cards for Pilgrims this year
Every pilgrim, on arrival at any of the Kingdom’s airports, seaports or border posts, will receive a digital smart card with all information of the pilgrim saved on it, it is reported in the press.

Shabab Book Satellite Programme
A satellite programme, titled, “Shabab Book” that is aired every Tuesday on Iqra Channel will be used this season to educate the youth about Hajj and its rites. This programme will be transmitted on 30 satellite channels. The Ministry is publishing information in 22 languages to reach Muslims around the world.

No cooking gas in Holy Sites
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, the former Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, has banned the use of liquefied gas for cooking at the Holy Sites during Hajj for the second consecutive season. The ban would not cause any inconvenience to pilgrims as a number of safe kitchens with access to all pilgrims are set up in the holy sites.

Hajj Campaign
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Governor of Makkah region, launched a Hajj Campaign under the motto “Hajj is Worship and Civilized Behaviour” has pinpointed the problems which should be dealt with, in particular the phenomenon of sleeping in the open in Makkah and the Holy Sites and the cases of those performing Hajj without a permit. The campaign aimed at educating pilgrims about how to perform the rituals properly and how to avoid behaviour that is not allowed in Islam.

The major objective of the campaign, according to Prince al-Faisal, is to make certain that pilgrims follow rules and instructions during Hajj. The Makkah Governor said the Kingdom wants to ensure that there is no overcrowding at the Holy Sites, stop pilgrims from sleeping in the open, and reduce pressure on the Grand Mosque and Jamarat Bridge. He said people who perform Hajj without a permit, sleep on the roads and litter at the Holy Sites are transgressing the laws of Almighty Allah. All these malpractices make it more difficult for the government to serve pilgrims effectively.

The Governor of Makkah said the campaign is meant to make pilgrims aware of negative and incorrect behaviour. This includes travelling without permits, sleeping in places that hamper the movement of pedestrians, machinery and cars, and littering.

Breaking the law for Hajj is a sin
Sheikh Saleh Aal Al-Sheikh, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, said the campaign is meant to inform pilgrims about the importance of sticking to the rules made by the government and it is aimed at providing the best services to the Guests of Allah.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia said the Hajj Campaign launched by Chairman of the Hajj Central Committee, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, is part of the government’s plan to make sure all pilgrims can perform the rituals like the Prophet (peace be upon him) did.

Health Hotline service for Hajj Pilgrims
The Saudi Ministry of Health will start a phone-in-service for Hajj pilgrims to obtain Health advice instantly. This service, known as “Saha Ziyufur Ar-Rahman” (Health for the Guests of Allah) is running for the seventh consecutive year, has proven successful in the past. This service will be available on the toll-free number 8002494444 and will greet the caller with ‘Allah Humma Labaik’ before diverting him or her to a medical officer. The medical team comprises consultants, cardiologists, medical specialists, pharmacists and dentists. The programme is handled by a group of Saudi women who work in the ministry and its city hospitals.

Signal Alerts for Availability of Space
The Grand Mosque has 176 gates. Now if there is space in the Grand Mosque, then a green light by the door will be lit but if there is none a red light will show. This arrangement is put in place to let pilgrims know if there was space for them inside the Haram or not so that they can pray outside in the plazas. These gates, which will remain open around the clock, were being manned by 800 men and women guards.

20 gates have been designated for people with special needs including the King Abdul Aziz Gate. The Grand Mosque has been supplied with a number of escalators to ensure the easy movement of pilgrims coming in or going out of the mosque.

Transportation
This year it is learnt that the General Syndicate of Cars has a new transport plan to ensure pilgrims perform their Hajj rites with ease, comfort and peace of mind. The Syndicate plans to operate 120,000 trips for pilgrims between the Holy Sites and Makkah and Madinah during the pilgrimage season. The plan will be put into operation by nearly 30,000 supervisors, members of administrative and technical committees, drivers and maintenance workers. For this reason, the Syndicate has secured 20,000 buses to transport pilgrims between Makkah and Madinah’s Holy Sites. 17 transport companies will provide 20,000 buses during this Hajj season.

Saudi women volunteer to serve female pilgrims
Over 25 female volunteers at the Tawafa Establishment of South Asia will look after 250,000 women pilgrims from South Asia. The volunteers will carry out activities and visit residences to educate pilgrims on the performance of Hajj and will also guide them at the Holy Sites. The volunteer will also ‘distribute tens of thousands of awareness brochures to pilgrims printed in different languages along with CDs that focus on Hajj rituals, it is learnt.

Toilets and service centres at Jamarat
It is also reported that there are plans to set up toilets and service centres in the towers of the Jamarat Bridge for emergency cases. The emergency forces presented a working paper on plans for crowd management at the Jamarat Bridge and other emergencies.

Last minute reminder for the British Pilgrims
The Foreign Office is urging Hajj pilgrims to get comprehensive travel insurance and essential vaccinations before embarking on their journey: The Foreign Office said:
- it is compulsory for travellers to the Hajj to have a Meningococcal Meningitis vaccination certificate in order to obtain a Hajj visa
- we strongly recommend that you have a seasonal influenza vaccination prior to embarking on your trip
-you should take out fully comprehensive travel insurance in advance
-check the Foreign Office travel advice for the latest on the situation in Saudi Arabia.

The Foreign Office will provide the full range of consular services and will be sending a delegation of consular staff. Pilgrims should ensure they look after personal belongings and should take particular care with travel documents, tickets and other valuables.

The delegation will be located at the Elaf Al Khalil Hotel, Makkah. You can find contact details and information on what the delegation can and can’t do in our travel advice for Hajj pilgrims. Ms. Nagina Akhtar, an experienced Consular Officer from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be leading this year British Hajj Consular Delegation.

Please visit the following websites as a last minute :
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/your-trip/hajj-pilgrims