HAJJ is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it is incumbent upon every Muslim, who is by the means, to perform it at least once in their lifetime.
The pilgrimage of Hajj takes place in the Islamic month of Dhil-Hijjah, of which the first 10 days are especially significant and virtuous.
Eid-ul-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, takes place on the 10th day of Dhil Hijjah, which falls on Monday, September 12, this year.
Hajj is an intensely personal and spiritual journey. This week people from all over the world converged on the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, to be a part of the five-day long Hajj ritual. It is estimated that approximately 3.7 million people perform Hajj every year.
Hajj enables Muslims from all around the world – irrespective of colour, race, creed, ethnicity or culture to come together in one place, and at one time to peacefully worship one God, together.
I can honestly say that I want to be nowhere else in the world besides on the Cape Flats in the run-up to Hajj season. For it is then when Capetonians go all-out for their “goejaajies” — the people leaving for the holy pilgrimage.
Cape Town has the most wonderful culture and traditions when it comes to Hajj season.
Greeting the hujjaaj is a highlight on the social calendars of many people. It is a time to catch up with friends and family, strengthen ties and heighten your faith.
The pilgrims lay out tables with treats as they welcome guests into their home. And the guests usually bring a “slawat”.
The “slawat” is a cash gift for the hujjaaj, but the weak rand/dollar exchange rate has played havoc with its value. Gone are the days when a R10 “slawat” was the norm. At R4 to one Saudi riyal, a R10 really cannot buy much.
In fairness, though, the “goejaajies” are in such a spiritual state that our sincere du’ahs (prayers) are what they seek most. The “slawat” is just a bonus!
It is a gift and not obligatory.
Something which always gets me very emotional is the beautiful Thikr that various groups make on their rounds to the hujjaaj. These jamaahs really make “goejaajie time” in Cape Town extra special! It’s difficult to describe the intense emotions, the sense of community, the humility, gratitude and heightened spirituality which is present when greeting hujjaaj. Ek tjank by almal!
One of the bigger challenges facing prospective hujjaaj these days is something we all seem to suffer from —- money.
The cheapest Hajj package you can buy is about R55 000, with packages going all the way up to R120 000 per person. And though many will tell you that this is perfectly reasonable in terms of the weak/ dollar exchange rate, and that other countries face similar fares, in reality, hajj is becoming more and more unaffordable.
SAHUC (South African Hajj and Umrah Council) currently has a waiting list of some 18 000 people, the majority being first time hujjaaj. The waiting period from time of registration to time of accreditation is about four years.
The South African quota for Hajj is a mere 2 000. SAHUC went through roughly 4 000 names on their waiting list to reach this quota.
Most people declined because they simply could not afford to go. The rising cost of living and job losses are having a serious effect.
In these tough times, the only advice one can offer, is to make your niyyah (intention) strong and to plan for this journey. Just as you spiritually plan, you have to financially plan. Make saving for this journey a part of your budget – so that should you ever get the chance to stand on the plains of Arafat in the waqh of Wukoof and through sincere repentance have your sins forgiven – you are financially ready for it.
May the Almighty keep all our hujjaaj safe and healthy, and accept their Hajj. And may those of us who have not had the honour and privilege of performing Hajj, be granted the opportunity to do so soon, Inshallah.
Times are tough, but it is the Almighty who makes the impossible POSSIBLE!
The Voorlopertjie wishes all Muslims a joyous and safe Eid on Monday. Keep me some trifle!