Hajj 2023: Updates from Nigeria’s Nasarawa State Nigeria.
Hajj 2023: Updates from Nigeria’s Nasarawa State Nigeria
The Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam and a significant spiritual endeavor for millions of Muslims around the world. In Nigeria, the Hajj is organized and supervised by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), which coordinates the allocation of slots, transportation, accommodation, and other logistics for the pilgrims from various states.
For the Hajj 2023, which is expected to take place in July or August, the Nigerian authorities have started preparations and announcements to ensure a smooth and safe pilgrimage for all the participants. One of the recent updates comes from Nasarawa State, a north-central state that has over 4,000 slots for its pilgrims this year.
According to reports, the Nasarawa State pilgrims were among the first batches to depart for Saudi Arabia, aboard Max Airline, a private carrier that has been licensed by NAHCON to transport the pilgrims. The airline has reportedly deployed four Boeing 747 aircraft with a capacity of 540 passengers each, to airlift the pilgrims from various airports in Nigeria to Jeddah or Medina.
The Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, who spoke to the pilgrims at the airport in Abuja, urged them to be good ambassadors of their state and country, and to pray for peace, unity, and development in Nigeria. He also assured them that the state government has made adequate arrangements for their welfare and support, including a robust medical team, security personnel, and religious guides.
The Hajj is not only a religious obligation but also a social and cultural event that brings Muslims from diverse backgrounds and countries together. It also has economic benefits for the host country, as millions of pilgrims spend money on goods and services during their stay in Saudi Arabia. However, the Hajj also poses risks and challenges, such as overcrowding, stampedes, heat exhaustion, and communicable diseases.
To mitigate these risks, Saudi Arabia has implemented various measures, such as limiting the number of foreign pilgrims to 60,000, requiring vaccination certificates, enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing, and expanding the capacity of the holy sites. The Saudi authorities have also developed a mobile application, “Eatmarna”, to facilitate the booking and scheduling of the rituals and movements of the pilgrims, as well as monitoring their health status and compliance with the rules.
For the Nigerian pilgrims, the Hajj is an opportunity to deepen their faith, connect with fellow Muslims, and experience the holy places that they have learned about from childhood. It is also a chance to showcase their cultural richness and diversity, as Nasarawa State and other states often organize pre-Hajj events to showcase their cuisine, music, and fashion.
As the pilgrims embark on their journey to Mecca, they carry the hopes and prayers of their families, friends, and communities. They also have the responsibility to abide by the rules and guidelines set by the authorities, to respect the host country’s traditions and laws, and to promote a positive image of Islam and Nigeria. May Allah accept their Hajj and grant them peace and blessings.