Indonesian hajj pilgrims leave for Arafah for Wuquf

Indonesian hajj pilgrims leave for Arafah for Wuquf

Photo document of Jabal Uhud, Madina, Saudi Arabia. (ANTARA/Prasetyo Utomo)

"The Saudi King needs to intervene to improve the services for pilgrims."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia left the holy city of Mecca for the Arafah desert on Wednesday (October 24) in order to perform "Wuquf", which involves praying to Allah at the Arafah for several hours.

Doing Wuquf at the Arafah is a must for all Muslims including the ailing ones while performing the annual hajj pilgrimage, because "Wuquf" is considered to be the most important part of the pilgrimage.

Therefore, some 250 ailing Indonesian hajj pilgrims were transported from Mecca to the Arafah on Wednesday.

On Thursday, nearly 3 million pilgrims from all over the world gathered at the Arafah to perform the Wuquf.

The Arafah is approximately 25 kilometres from Mecca, and most hajj pilgrims head to the Arafah by bus. The rest, however, reach there by foot.

The Wuquf will begin after the pilgrims say their midday prayers on Thursday and it will last until early morning on Friday.

After doing Wuquf at the Arafah, the pilgrims will leave for Mina transiting through Muzdalifah, a hilly land where they will pick dozens of pebbles to throw at "Jumrah Aqabah" (one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj), before heading to Al-Haram grand mosque in Mecca for listening to the sermon during the Idul Adha prayer.

The next day all pilgrims will return to their tents in Mina as part of their preparations for stoning the three Jumrahs (concrete pillars), namely Jumrah Ula, Wustha and the Aqabah.

The day of stoning the three Jumrahs is called "Nafar Awal". The pilgrims who stone the three Jumrahs for two days after the Idul Adha will be considered to have successfully performed the "Nafar Tsani".

This year, the number of Indonesian hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia reached 211,000, accounting for a big part of the total number of hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from across the world.

Indonesia, the world`s largest Muslim country, sends the largest number of hajj pilgrims to the Middle East every year.

Muslims who can afford a trip to Saudi Arabia are obligated under Islam to perform hajj pilgrimage at least once during their lifetime.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Indonesian hajj affairs organizing committee in Mecca area, Ahmad Abdullah, said in Arafah on Thursday that the transportation of hajj pilgrims was not a smooth affair this time because of the bus strike that happened when they were on their way to the Arafah.

"If the Saudi`s bus consortium at any point refuses to carry the Indonesian pilgrims, the Indonesian hajj affairs organizing committee has other vehicles ready to send them to the Arafah immediately," he stated.

There was traffic congestion at several points along the way to the Arafah on Wednesday.

Apart from that, as many as 113 Indonesians have died in Saudi Arabia since the first batch of hajj pilgrims arrived aboard chartered flights in the Holy Land on September 21.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Suryadarma Ali stated that hajj applicants over 85 years of age would receive priority with regard to their travel to Mecca.

The minister made the statement in Mecca during his meeting with 110-year-old Karso Masaid, the oldest Indonesian hajj pilgrim this year.

Hailing from Basarang village, Kapuas district, Central Kalimantan, Karso was previously a military man.

"The new policy for aged pilgrims is aimed at reducing fatalities during the hajj pilgrimage," Suryadarma explained.

Meanwhile, a member of the hajj pilgrimage monitoring team from the House of Representatives (DPR) urged Saudi authorities to provide professional and quality services to Indonesian hajj pilgrims every year.

After his arrival at the King Abdul Azis airport here recently, DPR monitoring team member Muhammad Oheo said: "All hajj pilgrims, including from Indonesia, have already paid for services such as for transportation, lodging, catering, as well other administrative services like immigration services at the airport."

"Their expenses must be commensurate with the quality of the services they get," he stated, while referring to transportation service that has been reported to be below standard.

"This year itself, a bus carrying pilgrims and their luggage caught fire near Mecca," Oheo pointed out.

The legislator said he had also received complaints about the long waiting times for pilgrims needing to take a bus from the airport to Mecca or Medina.

"After being on board for eight hours, Indonesian pilgrims should not have to wait so long to get a bus for their next destination," he noted.

"The Saudi King needs to intervene to improve the services for pilgrims," the legislator from Golkar Party said.

Oheo praised Indonesian hajj workers for their efforts to serve the pilgrims.

However, the Saudi government needs to focus on providing better services for next years` hajj pilgrims, particularly in the transportation sector, he added.