The hajj of the year 2019: what innovations will pilgrims from Russia face?

23 July 2019

Hajj, one of the pillars of Islam, is a mandatory for each Muslim person pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina during the twelfth month Dhu al-Hijjah. The followers of Islam are convinced that hajj is beneficial both temporally and spiritually, as many of the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad tell us. 


The first pilgrims will be going to the holy places very soon. What quota has been allocated by Saudi Arabia to Russia this year, how to protect yourself from unscrupulous operators and what should be paid special attention to while preparations for the execution of one of the pillars of Islam, are told in the special video conference between Moscow, Kazan and Simferopol.


The organizers of the hajj introduce new facilities for pilgrims


- Pilgrimage is one of the pillars of Islam; it is our way to worship the Almighty, - Rushan Abbyasov, the first Deputy Chairman of Russia Muftis Council and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, addressed the participants of the video conference. - It is the reason why pilgrimage should be especially reverent, as not everyone is given a unique opportunity to perform worship in the best way, cleanse of sins and mistakes in sacred places of Islam. 



The hajj of the year 2019: what innovations will pilgrims from Russia face?


The performance of the hajj rites is preceded by serious preparations, which include the organization of flights and accommodation as well. The work would have been longer and more complicated without the support of the federal and regional authorities. This year, taking into account additional places, the quota of 25 500 places has been allocated for Russian pilgrims. The first flight will be already on July 24. The rites themselves will begin in August – Saudi Arabia will announce a more precise date.


As Ranis Vakhitov, Director General of “the Spiritual Administration of Muslim of the Republic of Tatarstan Hajj”, noted, 1 800 places were allocated for Tatarstan. Pilgrimage courses are currently being held for pilgrims to familiarize them with hajj. 


- We have prepared for our pilgrims textbooks and guidebooks and we also have developed a pilgrimage dictionary, which will let them speak to the locals in case of absence of a group leader nearby. As far as the pilgrimage supervisors are concerned, there are about 40 of them. They are teachers, muhtasibs, whose level of the Arabic language is very high. Besides, 20 highly qualified medical workers of various specialties will also perform the hajj with a set of equipment and medicines in order to provide the necessary medical care in time. There will also be round-the-clock medical stations specifically for the Tatar pilgrims in the places of living. 


Last year, a private hospital tent with all the necessary medical equipment and medicine was installed in the valley of Mina. In addition to it, the government of Saudi Arabia provides free medical care to pilgrims when it is necessary, up to expensive surgeries, regardless of the nationality of a hajji.


Previously, all the pilgrims undergo free vaccination, which helps to minimize possible ailments. It was highlighted during the conversation with the journalists by Deputy Mufti of Crimean Muslims Ayder Ismailov.


- In Crimea, preliminary educational work with future hajjis is also actively conducted: instructions are given, disciplinary moments and technical peculiarities are highlighted, bags, necessary books are distributed and there also the leaders of the group are introduced. We would like to mention the fact that we have developed a special application, which helps to communicate with the leaders at the distance. As far as the figures are concerned, there are about 800 people from the Republic of Crimea, who are performing the hajj this year.  



The hajj of the year 2019: what innovations will pilgrims from Russia face?


The largest number of hajjis is leaving the territory of the North Caucasus – Dagestan (10 000 places), Chechnya and Ingushetia are the leaders. About 2 000 Muslims are leaving Moscow this year.


The technical side of the issue is not limited to the pilgrimage preparation. It is important to prepare oneself from the spiritual and moral sides, as pilgrimage is not religious tourism. Advisor to the Mufti of Tatarstan on the work with Muhtasibats (territories) Ravil Zuferov pointed out that hajj is not a touristic trip but worship of God.


-A person should prepare painstakingly and take it very seriously. Hajj means that you become a guest of the Almighty. I wish everybody to have their hajj accepted and they were rewarded for it. In order to reach it, one should remember the need to control their emotions and show patience. It is necessary to pray as much as possible and help each other when it is needed. Even after finishing hajj, pilgrims continue to meet regularly. They feel like one organism, one family, equal to each other. They always help and support each other morally and physically. And this is very important, as hajj is a test.


Innovations have been also announced within the framework of the video conference. For instance, the procedure of obtaining visas has been changed: now there is no necessity to collect passports and send them to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Visas can be obtained remotely. 


Information about operator of hajj should be checked


There is acute question about how to choose a hajj-operator to fulfill one of the instructions of the Almighty and not to be deceived. According to speakers’ advice, in order not to become a victim of fraudsters, it is enough to double-check the information about an operator, draw up a contract, transfer money only to a company’s account and demand a receipt. There are 10 official tour operators in the territory of the Russian Federation. In order to be sure of the company’s reliability, it is enough to consult with the staff of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of your region and apply to the register of Russian tourism. As part of the training of future hajjis, explanatory work is being carried out on how to be more attentive and not to succumb to provocations. 


Finally, Rushan Abbyasov said two main rules: be patient and listen to the leader of your group.


Reference: on July 24 of the year 2019, the first 4 groups of pilgrims in the total amount of 196 people will begin the hajj. They will fly to Saudi Arabia from Moscow. After them the group of 49 pilgrims will leave Kazan. It is planned that they will be escorted from the Kazan airport by the Mufti of Tatarstan, a member of the Group of Strategic Vision “Russia – Islamic World” Kamil Samigullin


Ilmira Gafiyatullina