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Haj Pilgrims

PETALING JAYA – The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V bids bon voyage to over 470 Malaysian haj pilgrims in a simple event at the Tabung Haji Complex in Kelana Jaya here tonight.

Sultan Muhammad V arrived at the complex at about 9.30 pm, accompanied by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

Also present were Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Malaysia Mahmoud Hussen Qattan, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki and Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.

The pilgrims are scheduled to depart for the Holy Land on a Malaysia Airlines flight MH8014 at 1.35 am tomorrow.

A total of 30,200 Malaysian pilgrims will perform haj this year and 5,200 of them had already arrived in Madinah and Makkah since last Monday. – BERNAMA

KEPALA BATAS – The Pilgrims Fund Board (TH) has made intensive preparation and is ready to receive the arrival of 30,200 Malaysian pilgrims from  this month for the Haj in the Holy Land.

Malaysian Haj pilgrims chef de mission, Datuk Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said the thorough preparation covered all matters, especially hotel accommodation, food and TH staff on duty to ensure that all pilgrims are comfortable during the pilgrimage.

“So far, TH’s preparation in the Holy Land is running smoothly as we have made early preparation since the last few months.

“Even our officers have started going there since July 12 and this year, 600 TH staff will be tasked with looking after the welfare and safety of Malaysian pilgrims in the Holy Land,” he told Bernama after the opening of the state-level 1438H/2017 Season Haj Premier Course, here, last night.

The two-day course, involving 1,082 pilgrims and held  at the Millennium Hall, was officiated by Penang Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas.

Meanwhile, Syed Saleh, who is also TH Haj senior general manager, said the course organised by TH was aimed at giving a prelude to the pilgrims on the true conditions of the pilgrimage before leaving for the Holy Land.

The first flight to the Holy land is on July 24 and the last expected to be on Aug 25, and Malaysian pilgrims are scheduled to return home by Sept 7 and the last flight from Saudi Arabia is on Oct 4. – BERNAMA

KUALA NERUS – Malaysians going for the haj pilgrimage this year should not worry or to panic with the recent decision of Saudi Arabia to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Pilgrims Fund Board (Tabung Haji -TH) chairman Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said TH had vast experience to handle the situation.

“What is important is for pilgrims to abide by all instructions issued by TH. We have all the machinery. If all pilgrims follow instructions issued by TH, InsyaAllah (God willing) everything goes well,” he told reporters after the Tabung Haji Foundation ” Ziarah Kasih Ramadan” programme at the Tabung Haji Hotel here today.

Also present was Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman.

Under the ” Ziarah Kasih Ramadan”, Abdul Azeez said RM15 million would be distributed to the needy who included 3,000 people in the parliamentary constituencies of Dungun, Marang and Kuala Nerus in Terengganu – BERNAMA

KUALA TERENGGANU – Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) performed the ‘Haj-e-badal’ (proxy Haj) for nine pilgrims who died before they could perform the wukuf ritual (congregate at Arafah plains) this year.

TH deputy chief executive officer, Datuk Badlisyah Abdul Ghani said it was an additional service provided by TH for the deceased pilgrims.

“As of today, 14 pilgrims have died, nine before the wukuf and five others after the ritual.
“Of the 14 deaths, nine pilgrims died in Mecca, two in Medina, and one each in Mina, Muzdalifah, and in Putrajaya Hospital.

“TH is now working to ensure that all pilgrims in the Holy Land return to Malaysia safely,” he told reporters after visiting family members of the late Zakaria Abdullah, here, today.

He also organised a ‘tahlil’ prayer session for the deceased during the visit and handed out a contribution to Zakaria’s widow, Roslina Abd Rahim, 44.

Roslina said she was thankful to TH which had managed well the burial of her husband in Makkah on Sept 9.

“We, the family, are keeping strong during this trying time, and hope to be able to visit his grave in Makkah.

“I would also like to thank the 1 Ummah Foundation which offered to sponsor my Umrah to Makkah after my ‘iddah’ (the period a Muslim woman observes after her husband’s death) to give me the opportunity to visit my husband’s grave,” said Roslina, who will be peforming the Umrah with her two children, Muhammad Aliff Imran and Muhammad Aiman.

Zakaria died at 9.30 am (Saudi Arabian time) of a heart attack during prayers at the Grand Mosque, and was buried in the Syaraek Cemetery at 7.25 pm.

He served as the Hulu Terengganu Farmers Association manager and Tanah Lot Manir Village Development and Security Committee chairman, and was among 75 participants of the Prime Minister-Yayasan 1Malaysia Development Berhad Special Haj Programme, from Terengganu this year. – BERNAMA

MAKKAH – Malaysian Haj pilgrims are advised to focus on their religious obligations while in the Holy Land, and not to believe any rumour that could cause them as well as their families back home feeling uneasy.

Malaysian Haj delegation head, Datuk Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said if they had any doubt or concern, they should obtain verification from Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH).

“Tabung Haji is always monitoring the developments on any matter of concern through the social websites so as to avoid affecting the concentration of pilgrims performing their religious duties,” he said, after welcoming a group of pilgrims on flight KT26 who had arrived in Jeddah and taken to their hostel, here, on Saturday.

The arrival of the 473 pilgrims wth 16 accompanying TH staff, brings the number of Malaysian pilgrims who have arrived in the Holy Land, to 11,934 thus far.

Two days ago, a pro-opposition news portal reported that the Malaysian ringgit was not accepted in Saudi Arabia due to the fall in the value of the ringgit, but the claim was refuted by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

Instead, Jamil Khir said, Malaysian pilgrims did not at all face the problem when exchanging currency while TH had set up counters for money withdrawals based on the Saudi riyal exchange rate.

Syed Saleh confirmed that there was no such problem while the money exchange outlets in the Holy Land also accepted the Malaysian ringgit, hence the pilgrims and their families should not worry about the claim as it was not true.

He also advised the pilgrims to pay attention to the safety aspect by, for example, not taking part in any gathering or rally, and to take care of their belongings.

He noted that generally, the Malaysian pilgrims were in good health except for a few who were having fever, cough or cold.

“The pilgrims are taking care of their health as advised by TH in view of the weather condition, with temperatures reaching 44 degrees Celsius,” he said. – BERNAMA

MAKKAH: The wife of Zulkifly Samad, the Malaysian pilgrim killed in the Mina stampede, accepted her husband’s death as God’s will in his desire to follow the “sunnah” (acts of Prophet Muhammad) by walking from Muzdalifah to Mina and to perform the stone-throwing ritual during the ‘duha” period (7 am to 11 am).

Suriahanim Abd Hamid, 40, said she had initially objected to her husband’s intention to walk as Tabung Haji had advised Malaysian pilgrims to perform the stone-throwing ritual after 5.30 pm.

She said it had been her husband’s wish to walk from Muzdalifah to Mina to follow Prophet Muhammad’s example.

“After the ‘wukuf’ (grand assembly) in Arafah on Sept 23, we boarded the bus to Muzdalifah (for the ‘mabit’ ritual where pilgrims are required to stay for a while) and he told me his intention to walk to Mina from Muzdalifah (a distance of about 3km)

“At 7.30 am (Sept 24), I called him on his handphone and he said he had arrived in Mina,” she added.

Suriahanim said she had asked her husband to return to camp to take a short rest, but he was adamant to perform the stone-throwing ritual at Jamrah Kubra during the duha period.

“I was informed about the stampede about 1.30 pm (incident occurred at 11.30 am) and then started to call him, but the calls went unanswered,” she added.

She said she lodged a report with Tabung Haji at 11 pm on the day of the incident after her husband failed to return to camp.

Following which, a search was mounted by Tabung Haji at the Jamrah Complex and in Mina, and then went to the Muassiem mortuary, after they failed to locate him.

Suriahanim said Tabung Haji contacted her at about 1.30 pm on Sept 27 to identify her husband’s body. The couple has a son, aged two years and six months.

Zulkifly’s body was buried at the syara’ik cemetery here at 2.50 am today (7.50 am Malaysian time).

Suriahanim had earlier identified her husband’s body at the Muassiem mortuary in Mina.

More that 700 pilgrims were killed in the stampede which happened in an area where pilgrims from Middle Eastern countries were encamped, about four kilometres from where the Malaysian pilgrims encamped.-BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Comes tomorrow, the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Makkah Metro rail service will begin operation.

It will operate non-stop for seven days from 4 am from 7 Zulhijjah (Sept 21) to 13 Zulhijjah, to transport the more than three million haj pilgrims between Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafah, which are among the locations to perform the prescribed rituals of the Haj.

Among those anxiously waiting for the rail service to begin operation are staff of Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (Prasarana), now on the holy land, to run the rail service and one of them is Mohamad Fauzi Abdul Manap.

“We have been making the preparations since last May, but recalling my experience at the job last year, it can be worrying as we are dealing with hundreds of people entering the station to use the service.

“The scenario is very much different from my job with Rapid KL,” said Mohamad Fauzi, 37, who was the Taman Melati LRT station manager.

Connecting nine stations in Arafah, Mudzalifah and Mina, locations where pilgrims would perform their haj rituals, the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah rail service handles not less than 370,000 passengers daily.

Pilgrims from the Middle East, South Africa and South Asia will be the ones to benefit utmost from the rail service as their camps are located along the 18 km stretch of the rail track between the depot, near Arafah, and Jamarat.

During the last haj season, Mohamad Fauzi was head of Arafah 2 station, but for the current season, he has been tasked as head of Arafat 1 station and would be supervising 150 staff.

“The most challenging time will be on Wukuf Day at Arafah. Hundreds of pilgrims will use the train service during a five-hour period to fulfill the haj ritual.

“Everybody will be rushing and in this situation, the station head will have to show a high level of discipline, dedication and creativity,” he added.

Despite the challenging job, Mohamad Fauzi said he was happy to be selected again to be in the team to operate the Al Mashaeer Al Mugaddassah rail service.

“It indirectly proves that my service is appreciated. I thank Prasarana for that, because I know many are keen to work here,” he added.

Fauzi, who has three children, were among 12 Prasarana staff and 28 staff of Express Rail Link (ERL) offered by China Railway Construction Consortium (CRCC) to facilitate operation of the train service last year.

This year, Mohamad Fauzi is among more than 400 staff of Prasarana, ERL and Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad, who will be involved in the train operation for the current haj season.

“It is exciting working with my Malaysian colleagues again. As the ‘old’ one here, I’ll share my experience and knowledge with them.

“Our objective is the same, to give the best serve possible and to prove to the world that Malaysians are capable of doing the job,” he added.

Mohamad Fauzi, who is from Ipoh, Perak said he hoped to be selected again to work with the Makkah train service for the next haj season.

“If possible, I want to be part of the teaching force at Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah,” he said, adding that Prasarana had been awarded a three-year contract until 2017 to manage the train service. – BERNAMA

MAKKAH – The first group of Malaysian pilgrims are due to arrive in Makkah from Madinah, tomorrow.

The group which arrived in Madinah via flight KT1 on Aug 16, is scheduled to depart by bus from Madinah to Makkah at 6am local time. (11am Malaysian time).

Tabung Haji’s Haj Congregation (Welfare) deputy head Nurrin Anuwar Shamsuddin said the group of 450 pilgrims who would be transported using 10 buses were expected to arrive in Makkah at 2pm (local time).

“The congregation’s baggage have also been transported by lorry today, the congregation only needs to bring essential items with them tomorrow and they will be placed at Tabung Haji’s headquarters, the Abraj Al-Janadriah,” he told reporters here Sunday.

Nurrin Anuwar said seven lodging colleges were provided for Malaysian Haj pilgrims there.

“In Makkah, there seven colleges, with six for the Muassasah (package) and one for the private package. The seven colleges comprise nine buildings in Makkah,” he said.

He said all the pilgrims who were now in Madinah were also reportedly in good health condition.

“The pilgrims who will arrive in Makkah are also advised to drink lots of water, wear appropriate clothing and minimise outdoor activities. The temperature in Makkah is around 45 degrees Celsius,” he said.

Nurrin Anuwar said the first group of pilgrims who will arrive in Jeddah and head directly to Makkah will be on Sept 1 via flight KT34.

“The last group of pilgrims to arrive in Madinah is on Aug 30. Overall, 11,088 pilgrims will arrive in Madinah, and they will be taken to Makkah in stages beginning tomorrow until Sept 7,” he said.

He said the colleges in Makkah were also equipped with clinic facilities, customer service counters, financial counters, counseling as well as pilgrimage guidance services.

There will be a total of 22,320 Haj pilgrims from Malaysia this year, heading there via 64 flights conducted by Malaysia Airlines and Saudi Airlines.

The last flight of Malaysian pilgrims heading to the Holy Land will be on Sept 16, while the return flights are scheduled from Sept 29 to Oct 27. – BERNAMA

MADINAH – Malaysian Arjunaidi Mohamad, now in Madinah on his way to perform the haj pilgrimage is indeed a special person.

He lost his leg six months after his marriage to Pariyem Pautoredjo, now 40, about 23 years ago. Looking at the couple, one could see their determination to seek refuge in Allah.

“I thank Allah for lending me my right leg for 21 years and I am now thankful that He gave me the opportunity to come to the holy land to perform the haj pilgrimage,” said Arjunaidi, 44, who now runs a motor workshop in Kuang, Selangor.

Arjunaidi, who now has five children, including a pair of twins, age between 12 and 23, said he registered with Tabung Haji in 2003 and three years ago had enough saving to go for the pilgrimage.

“Praise to Allah, my wife and I are able to be here now because our names were in the list of pilgrims for this year,” he added. The couple arrived here last Sunday.

He thanked Tabung Haji for providing the necessary assistance, especially “helping me to get back my wheelchair which was stranded at the Prince Mohammad Abdulaziz Airport.”

Arjunaidi lost his right leg in an accident in 1991 while returning from work in Rawang, Selangor.

The couple, who hails from Melaka, is among 11,088 Malaysians who have arrived in Madinah for the haj pilgrimage. They will leave for Makkah in stages beginning Aug 24. – BERNAMA


MEDINA: More than 4,000 Malaysian haj pilgrims are now in Medina and as of Thursday, they are reported to be in good condition, said the Medina Operations Director for the 1436H Haj Operations, Mohd Zawawi Bostam.

He said 4,446 Malaysian haj pilgrims were now in Medina and staying in three hotels namely Hotel MovenPick, Hotel Al-Saha and Hotel Al-Haram, since the first flight KT1 on Aug 16.

“The number does not include two more groups who are scheduled to arrive today via flights KT14 from Alor Setar (279 pilgrims) at 4.15pm (9.14pm Malaysian time) and KT15 from Johor Baharu (279 pilgrims) at 8.30pm (1.30am on Aug 21, Malaysian time),” he told reporters, here today.

Mohd Zawawi said the last flight carrying pilgrims directly to Medina was schduled to arrive on Aug 30 (at 1.15am local time).

He said pilgrims who were already at the Holy Land had followed the programs organised by the Tabung Haji (TH) such as visiting the Nabawi Mosque, visiting historical places in Medina and listening to religious ceramah and counselling.

The Malaysian haj pilgrims were scheduled to go to Makkah in stages from Aug 24 by bus, with the last group scheduled to arrive on Sept 7.

Overall, he said, 11,088 haj pilgrims would be in Medina on 32 flights while another 32 flights were scheduled to arrive directly in Jeddah.

This year, 22,320 Malaysian haj pilgrims would be flown by Malaysia Airlines and Saudi Airlines.– BERNAMA