9,996 Bahrain pilgrims sign up for Haj
Manama, October 9, 2012
A total of 9,996 pilgrims from Bahrain have signed up to take part in the Haj pilgrimage to Makkah, the spiritual home of Islam, which every Muslim is supposed to complete at least once in their lives.
The Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry says it is negotiating for an increase in the number of pilgrims who make the journey to Saudi Arabia from Bahrain - which currently has an allowance of 10,000 people a year.
Haj Mission secretary-general Abdulnasser Abdulla said 47 caravan operators had been authorised to transport pilgrims and said they were being urged to make sure the sacred occasion did not become politicised.
"Caravans that are travelling to Saudi Arabia have been instructed to focus on rituals and the sacredness of the occasion rather than turn it into an atmosphere for politicisation," warned Abdulla.
"Bahrain's pilgrims have to abide by instructions given to them by the Saudi authorities and we as a mission will support them (Saudi Arabia).
"We have a good relationship with our Saudi counterparts and through years of a strong relationship, especially when it comes to Haj, we have been given privileged treatment and we want that to continue," he said.
"Currently, we have around 10,000 listed, but that number will increase through the mutual understanding that we have with Saudis."
He said the 9,996 pilgrims had been precisely divided among caravan operators.
"Bahrain's three biggest caravans have been given 300 seats, while 200 seats were given to some old caravans and new ones have been given just 150 seats," said Abdulla.
He revealed the first group of pilgrimage officials and support staff would leave tomorrow for Makkah to prepare the mission's headquarters.
"It will also be the day that the first batch of caravans will be allowed to travel across the causeway to Saudi Arabia, whether they want to go Makkah directly or Madinah," he said.
"From our side, we will be present in Makkah officially from Thursday to provide any necessary assistance to Bahrain's pilgrims."
The Haj pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam and should be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it at least once in life.
Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Makkah for the Haj and perform a series of rituals.
These include walking counterclockwise seven times around the cube-shaped Kaaba built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son, which every Muslim faces when they pray; travelling back and forth between the hills of Al Safa and Al Marwa to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim's wife Hajra (who Muslims believe was left alone in the desert with her infant son as a test from God); drinking from a spring that is believed to have emerged at the feet of Hajra's son Ismail; staging a vigil at the plains of Mount Arafat and throwing stones at three pillars symbolising the devil.
The pilgrims then shave their heads and perform a ritual of animal sacrifice before celebrating Eid Al Adha. – TradeArabia News Service