Based on Interviews -1
Tremendous Changes in Hajj Facilities since 1976
For the Security and Safety of Pilgrims
Dr. Mozammel Haque
I have interviewed two VIP Hajjis who are going to perform Hajj this year in 2015 but they have performed Hajj before and they compared their experience of Hajj facilities in the past with that of today this year, in 2015.
Dr. Omar Ahmed Fadhlullah
Dr. Omar Ahmed Fadhlullah came from Abu Dhabi. He worked there as Advisor for the Electronic Government System and Project in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Fadhlullahuh was working in Saudi Arabia before 1980 and during that period he had performed so many Hajj. Then after that he performed Hajj in 1980 and after a decade in 1990, second time and then this is the third time in 2015.
Dr. Fadhlullahuh said, “I started coming for Hajj in 1976 for consequent four years up to 1980, then I went to the United States and stayed there till 1987 when I came back and started coming to Hajj in 1990. I never came back until this year in 2015.”
He said, “Hajj is different every time compared to previous years in 1976 where, for instance, in Mina there was no such organisations and locations for Hajj, whoever comes first, stood up and reserved the place for themselves. Most of the public facilities – men’s toilets, women’s toilets – these type of public facilities were not available in Arafat, Muzdalifah or Mina. Most of the locations in Mina were not there; there was dust everywhere. Pilgrimage was staffed with coughing. For many Hajjis no locations to stay there; they were staying under the flyover, under the bridges. People died when they came rushing to or stoning in the Jamarat and lot of things.”
Dr. Fadhlullahuh continued, “But immediately after that lot of things changed. Starting from 1976 until 1980, many changes have been taken place, but before that time, lots of cars inside Mina; inside Muzdalifah; every pilgrim with his car – one person on his own car – cars were crowded started from Arafat towards Mina and they don’t move hours and hours and hours. In this situation some old people who cannot moce except by car, it was very hard for them during this time.”
Talking about the difference, changes and improvement since 1990, Dr. Fadhlullahuh said, “When I came this year it was amazing because actually Hajj is so organised, lot of facilities is there, everywhere. Wherever you go there is public services, toilets for men and women and all the areas are paved, organised and clean and you got the stone throwing or stoning in Jamarat on one way going and coming back on different way or paths. It is very organised. Actually I wonder how come this is so organised, because actually millions of people came in in this very small area and many millions and they are organised actually and this is amazing and the development.”
In 1980, King Fahd had taken the development of the Haramain and the extension of the Haram and Madina Munawwarrah.
About the development in Makkah, Dr. Fadhlullahuh said, “In 1990, movement between Makkah and Mina became so easy even the pilgrim, some of them, can walk because it was organised. Policemen and all these scouts were everywhere showing people where to go and how to go. Things became easy. Places in Mina were reserved and marked for certain pilgrims coming from different countries. You can easily find that; you can easily find hospitals everywhere; ambulances were everywhere wherever you go. Everything was so easy – so organised – even the weather has changed now. There is huge fans, air-conditioned in so many hot hilly areas. This is amazing actually.”
“Before that time, some pilgrims because of hot felled down with sunstroke, heat actually. Now it is different. No one is felling down with sunstroke. Many differences happened actually, getting things better everywhere every year,” said Dr. Fadhlullah.
Published in Rabita Weekly, from Mina
25 September 2015