Thursday, 25 August 2016

Hajj Awareness Seminars 2016 Launch in London

Hajj Awareness Seminars 2016 Launch in London

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Hajj is an obligatory duty in a lifetime for every capable, both physically and financially to perform Hajj in a lifetime. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. As it is an obligatory duty, it is essential that every Muslim who is planning to go for Hajj is to make himself abreast about different aspects of Hajj. It is necessary to know about the social, economical, moral, educational and religious aspects of Hajj.

A pilgrim should be aware of the greatness of the rites of the pilgrimage in the sight of Allah Subhanahu wa Taala and should therefore make a solemn intention, in his heart or verbally, to the effect that he is carrying out Divine injunctions for the pleasure of Allah the Almighty only. The ultimate goal, the summon bonum of life is to respond to the Call of Allah the Almighty.

This year around 19,000 British Hajjis are going for Hajj to Makkah al-Mukarramah. I wish them success and Hajje Mabrouk and acceptance of their Hajj by Allah the Almighty.

Previously 25,000 British Muslims used to go for Hajj every year and many thousands do Umrah and there was a need for British Muslims facilities not only consular advice but more important health advice and other kind of advice. Thus British Hajj Delegation was started in 1999 and Lord Ahmed led the first British Hajj Delegation to Saudi Arabia in 2000 and from next year, 2001 to 2009, Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn led the British Hajj Delegation.

The British Hajj Delegation used to launch every year its delegation before the Hajj. .The British Hajj Delegation used to go to Saudi Arabia every year; hold medical clinics, free medical treatment and offer consular advice in Makkah. There was a partnership among the British Government, the Saudi Government and the British Muslim Community. United Kingdom was the first country which had organised the British Hajj Delegation, the first Hajj delegation not only in Europe but also in the Western world.

This British Hajj Delegation continued from 2000 to 2011 and Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn was the leader of the Delegation from 2001 to 2010. Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan and myself too gratefully acknowledge his selfless dedication and devotion for the service of the Hujjaj and for the pleasure of Allah Subhanahu wa Taala.

As usual like every year Hajj Awareness Seminars were launched by the two Hajj & Umrah related organisations in the United Kingdom. One was organised by the Association of British Hujjaj (ABH) at the House of Lords on 20th July, 2016 and another was organised by the Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) held at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on 6th of August, 2016.

Hajj Seminar 2016 at The
Islamic Cultural Centre, London
The Hajj Seminar 2016 organised by the Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) in partnership with the London Central Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre, was held at the Conference Hall of the Centre on Saturday, the 6th of August 2016.

Dr. Ahmad Dubayan Inaugurates
The Hajj Seminar 2016
While inaugurating the Hajj Seminar 2016, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London welcomes the police of the City of London and other dignitaries, guests and audiences. He expressed his happiness to see all these people to be at the Centre in this nice summer day. He also thankfully acknowledged the self-sacrificing dedication of Lord Adam Patel, the leader of the British Hajj Delegation at the service of Hujjaj and for the pleasure of Allah the Almighty for more than a decade.

Hajj Fifth Pillar of Islam
While speaking about Hajj, Dr. al-Dubayan said, “As we all know, Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Hajj is one of the main worship in Islam but it is, of course, as we all know, it is a duty for every person only once in one’s life; when he is able physically of course financially and security-wise.  If someone is not able to do it, for example, he is sick or poor person then Hajj is not a duty.”

“We are too close to Hajj, InshaAllah, and let me start by congratulating those who are going to perform their Hajj this year. And welcome you to Islamic Cultural Centre; and wish you Insha Allah happy journey. Insha Allah you will go safely and InshaAllah you will come back home safely also,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Hajj is a Spiritual trip
Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre mentioned, “Hajj is a spiritual trip; it is not only normal travelling like you go on a holiday. Hajj is a spiritual trip going to the holy places, holy sites in Makkah and then after that to Madinah  as a Ziarah, which is not of course part of the Hajj but people sometimes when they are in Makkah they could go to Madinah because they are too close to it.”

Hajj an international conference of all Muslims
Dr. Al-Dubayan also mentioned, “Hajj is really like an international conference of all Muslims coming from all corners of the world, all different nations, different languages, different races, different colours coming to this holy site for one thing only: this is to perform the worship of Allah Subhanahu wa Taala following the steps of Prophet Abraham, following the steps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all).”

How did we know the Hajj?
Dr. Al-Dubayan then narrated how did we know about Hajj. He said, “We knew the Hajj from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he started to perform his Hajj which he did only once in his life time, not of course 20 times like some people try to do today. Once only in his life and then he says see how I do after performing Hajj and take it from me. He himself (peace be upon him) followed the steps of Prophet Abraham. When Prophet Abraham completed the building of the Kaaba with his son Ismael as it is told in the Qur’an; the story described and then he performed Hajj in certain ways; when to start; certain places, certain timing, certain areas that he has to go in certain time. If we don’t do it that way, then Hajj is not correct or not complete, not perfect.”

Hajj in different literature
Speaking about the history of Hajj written in different literature, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “Throughout the history of Islam Hajj has played the main role in many people minds, in many nations. We can read the literature of the Hajj that has been written in all languages; in Arabic, in Urdu, in Turkish, in Persian, in African languages, in European languages also, in India everywhere. There is a very big heritage and literature written because of the Hajj. Many of it or most of it were written by Muslims who did perform the Hajj. They described what they have seen during their trip as a travellers going to Makkah; what they have seen on the way and back home. And they also described all those changes in the societies, in the cities, in the roads that they followed going to Makkah. These are part of the history and part of the literature itself.”

Hajj is also subject of study
Of many Orientalists
“At the same time, Hajj was also a subject of many works of Orientalists in Europe, in the UK, in France, in Germany, in Austria and many other countries. They are not Muslims. But they actually took the Hajj pilgrim as a subject of many studies about the sites themselves, about the roads , about the influence of Hajj itself on the Muslim nations,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Malcolm X in Makkah
Those who have performed Hajj more than once or different pilgrim at different time have different feeling of Hajj. Speaking about this different feeling of Hajj, Dr. al-Dubayan said, “Hajj surprised many travellers when they came to Makkah. If you read 1000 books about Hajj, it will never never be like one time you do yourself. It is something different. The feeling is different, everything different. I remember the words of Malcolm X when he came from America, that was I think in 1962, I am not mistaken. When he came to Makkah he almost saw everybody is there. Black Americans in the beginning thought Islam is the religion only for the Africans. Of course there was a reason why they listened here and there their history.”

“Anyway, when Malcolm X came to Makkah and when he stood in Arafat, then in Mina, he wrote in his memoirs that I am here and the whole world is around me; everybody is here; I see on the right Arabs, I see on the left people coming from Europe; I see here Africans, there are people from Tatars; behind me I see also other people from India, from Malaysia, from everywhere; religion is really for everywhere. That’s why Allah Subhanahu wa Taala says in the Qur’an: ‘We have sent you to be a Mercy for all Mankind, and for all the worlds’”, mentioned Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Hajj brings changes in one’s heart
Speaking about the changes in one’s heart after performing Hajj, the ICC Chief said, “Hajj is very important because it does changes in people’s hearts.” Then Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned one scholar from India who said, “You have to check your heart after Hajj. If you find your heart is the same as it was before; then your Hajj is not perfect, then you have not done the Hajj the right way. If you see you are better after Hajj then the Hajj is really accepted; you have done the real Hajj because it has really affected and touch the bottom of your heart. This is the Hajj.”

Sheikh al-Sudais welcome everybody to
Masjid al-Haram in Makkah
Referring to Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the Imam of the Masjid al-Haram of Makkah al-Mukarramah, Dr. Al-Dubayan said, “Luckily we had here ten days ago Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the Imam of Haram in Makkah who welcome everybody to Makkah and in the holy sites; Madinah too of course. He is actually welcoming Hujjaj, in Arabic, Hujjaj the Guest of Allah Subhanahu wa Taala when they come to His House, the Kaaba and when they come to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.”

During Hajj, it is quite natural that you will face some difficulties, some uneasiness. But I like the way Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned this in his inaugural address. He said, “I want to tell those who want to go for Hajj. I hope they realise the spiritual meaning of it. They realise the meaning of going there. And whatever you do for Hajj; Hajj would be a little bit some difficulties; sometime the arrangements, sometime the long delay in the airports waiting, sometimes delay in checking sometimes facilities of transport; crowd, traffic and whatever; this happened everywhere.”

“But we have to mention also gratefully the arrangement at the airports and the projects that the government of Saudi Arabia have undertaken for the Holy sites; the projects for the Kaaba; they have completed big part of the expansion of the Haram, the Holy Mosque in Makkah; the capacity is about I think; three to five million and the work of the expansion of Haram, the Mosque in Makkah is continuing.  It will not be stopped,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Press release issued by CBHUK
On this occasion, Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) issued a press release which mentioned the following:

“Aspiring British Muslims embarking on the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage were given training on how to perform the rituals for the Journey of a lifetime hosted by the Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) in partnership with the London Central Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre. The training was delivered by qualified scholars over a series of events hosted in towns and cities across the United Kingdom.  Hundreds attended eagerly to learn about Hajj with Doctors and travel industry experts delivering health & safety advice too.”

The press release also mentioned, “Dr Ahmad Al Dubayan, Director General of the London Central Mosque urged pilgrims to learn the rituals of Hajj so that they can gain maximum benefit from this act of worship as Hajj touches peoples hearts and changes them for the better. He thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz for hosting the pilgrims and services provided to them and the commitment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the development of the two Holy cities of Makkah & Madinah and Masjid Al Haram to accommodate the faithful.  He lauded efforts by Lord Adam Patel in leading the British Hajj Delegations and welcomed a new era of support for British pilgrims in partnership with CBHUK.”

It also said, “Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) offered travel advice and how to stay safe during Hajj.   With millions performing various rituals of Hajj at the same time at the same place, he stressed the importance of following instructions from the Tour Operators and  Saudi Officials on the ground for a smooth journey.  The Council also offered health and safety advice preparing pilgrims for the Journey of a Lifetime.  Mogradia thanked the Saudi Embassy in London for their continued help and support to British pilgrims and the Islamic Cultural Centre for a fruitful partnership in educating pilgrims.”

The City of London Police offered Hajj Fraud prevention advice to pilgrims to book with reputable and licensed tour operators and asked the community to report unscrupulous tour operators & fraudsters to Action Fraud and Trading Standards so that the authorities could take action against them. 

Hajj Awareness Campaign launched at House of Lords
Earlier, on 20 July, 2016, Hajj Health & Safety Awareness Campaign was launched at the House of Lords by the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) a National organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj/Umrah pilgrims. The Association of British Hujjaj issued a press release on this occasion.

The press release said, “The purpose of this launch was to raise awareness of the health and safety issues amongst the 25,000 prospective British pilgrims who will start travelling next month to join over 2 million other pilgrims from around the world in Makkah. Members of the House of Lords, Members of Parliament, government officials and community dignitaries were present to support this prestigious event.”

“In his welcoming remarks, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham went on to highlight the importance of this event saying, “By launching this awareness campaign it will enhance Hajj related health & safety awareness amongst prospective British pilgrims. It is important that pilgrims must be aware of all aspects of Hajj to enable them to perform Hajj in the safest and best possible manner,” the press release mentioned.

“Steve McCabe, Member of Parliament praised the hard work and continuous efforts made by the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK to help and protect the British Hajj pilgrims from hardship, difficulties and he assured his full support to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims,” it added.

Khalid Pervez, General Secretary of ABH UK expresses the need of health and safety precautionary measures to be taken to perform a safe Hajj in comfort.”

“Dr Syed Raza Hussain strongly urges the prospective pilgrims to safeguard against infectious diseases such as meningitis and Coronavirus,” the press release mentioned and added, “Trading Standards and London City Police officials also assured the British Muslim community of their help and support towards combating the malpractice, corruptions and exploitation by the unscrupulous and rogue tour and travel operators. They said that the law enforcement authorities will do their utmost to help and protect innocent and vulnerable Hajj/Umrah pilgrims and to ensure the rule of law amongst the Hajj service providers from the UK.”

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