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JEDDAH – Malaysian haj pilgrims have been advised to drink lots of water, avoid being in open spaces for too long, as well as to get enough rest during their stay in the Holy Land where the temperature has reached 43 degrees Celsius.

Tabung Haji (TH) medical officer in Jeddah Dr Mohd Rohisham Zainal Abidin said this reminder was necessary so that the pilgrims remained healthy to perform the pilgrimage properly.

“This information was given to them during the haj courses conducted.

“We also do not encourage the pilgrims to be outside their dwellings or in the open spaces in the hot weather as it could lead to heat stroke or dehydration,” he told reporters at the Jeddah Operations Centre here.

The Saudi Gazette portal reported on Aug 8 that the Saudi Arabian Health Ministry had set up a sophisticated and well-equipped heat stroke prevention centre in Mina.

The portal also reported Saudi Arabian Health Director Ahmed Abdussalam as advising all pilgrims, workers and staff involved in the haj operations to take steps to prevent heat strokes.

Ahmed was reported to have said that the hot weather could also lead to skin cancers, burnt skins and allergies.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohd Rohisham also encouraged pilgrims to bring their own medications, especially if they suffered from ailments like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as descriptions of the medications.

He said this would facilitate the checks by the Saudi Arabian authorities. – BERNAMA

MECCA – Performing the haj can become complicated for female pilgrims when they are menstruating, but this doesn’t have to be the case, said Dr Anisah Abdul Ghani, one of Tabung Haji’s (TH) religious experts for this year’s haj season.

The former Fiqh lecturer at Universiti Malaya said Malaysian female pilgrims often become too anxious about their menstruation during haj.

“The only thing they are restricted from performing when menstruating is to circumambulate the Kaaba (tawaf), pray and read the Quran. The rest – to zikir and make doa in Mina and Arafah – is still permissible,” Anisah told Malaysian media here recently.

She said even if female pilgrims are on their period, there are still ways they can complete their haj, and this is discussed in detail in religious modules that pilgrims attend before haj.

Briefly, these may involve paying dam (the sacrificing of an animal), returning to do tawaf later, or to follow the practice of other schools of thought (madhhab).

“There are ways to still get the haj. There is no reason to get over-stressed on the issue of menstruation,” added Anisah, whose expertise is Islamic jurisprudence.

The other two religious experts for this year are Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, former director-general of Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim); and Datuk Noh Gadut, Majlis Agama Islam Johor (Maij) advisor.

Anisah said since obtaining haj is still possible for female pilgrims in spite of their menstruation, making the right intention (niat) is crucial and not to be taken lightly.

For example, there is the normal intention – “to perform haj and be in ihram” – and the conditional intention – “to perform haj and be in ihram, but if I menstruate, I am free from ihram”.

TH discourages female haj pilgrims from declaring conditional niat for haj, because if they menstruate on the Day of Arafah (Wukuf), they are automatically no longer in ihram and will not get their haj this year.

Similarly, some pilgrims are influenced by others and change their intention on the type of haj they wish to perform, from what they originally intended, which will have consequences.

For instance, those who choose haj Tamattu’ perform Umrah first, and are then free from ihram until it is time to head for Arafah, when they will make another intention for haj.

For the other types of haj (Ifrad and Qiran), the pilgrims are in a state of ihram much longer – from first arriving in Mecca until Wukuf – and therefore, it is a greater challenge to avoid the prescribed restrictions during that period.

“That’s why we tell the pilgrims to think carefully about their ‘niat’. This is not a small matter,” Anisah added. -NST


KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has wished Malaysian pilgrims performing the haj in Makkah and Madinah a safe and blessed pilgrimage.

“May your haj be accepted, all your religious obligations and prayers be received, God willing. Please send my prayers and greetings to the Prophet (Rasulullah SAW) upon your arrival in Madinah,” he said via a video uploaded in his Twitter account today.

Almost half of the total number of 30,200 Malaysian pilgrims for the Hijrah 1438 season are now already in Makkah and Madinah.

As of Aug 1, about 14,000 or 46 per cent of the pilgrims are in the Holy Land following the first flight from Malaysia to Madinah on July 24.

A total of 110 flights will bring Malaysian pilgrims to Madinah and Jeddah in stages with the final flight on Aug 26 and, out of these, 46 flights will fly direct to Madinah and another 64 to Jeddah before the pilgrims take the bus to Makkah.

Wukuf Day in Arafah, which marks the start of the haj is scheduled to be held on Aug 31.


PUTRAJAYA – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia had responded positively to a request to have the annual quota of Haj pilgrims from Malaysia raised to 30,000.

The Prime Minister said that during the talks between the delegations of the two countries, King Salman informed that his government would have to give an in-depth consideration to the request.

“For King Salman, as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the management of Haj pilgrims is a very important matter and is always given consideration by the Saudi Arabian government,” he said.

Najib spoke at a press conference after the bilateral talks held at Seri Perdana, the official residence of the Prime Minister, here.

King Salman is on a four-day state visit to Malaysia from yesterday at the invitation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V.

This year, the Saudi Arabian government restored the Malaysian Haj pilgrim quota to the original 27,800 after it was reduced to 22,320 in 2013 due to the development works at the Masjidil Haram.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom had reportedly said that the Malaysian government had requested a raise in the quota to 30,000 due to the increasing number of Malaysians going on the pilgrimage.

Najib also said that King Salman agreed to consider a Malaysian request to build two pilgrim centres close to the Masjidil Haram in Makkah and Masjidil Nabawi in Madinah.

“Their laws prohibit foreigners from buying land. We may have to consider a long-term lease. This will be looked into by the Saudi Arabian government,” he said.- BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – No Malaysian pilgrims are believed to have been killed or hurt in a stampede in Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca, as the time and location of the incident does not match the timetable for pilgrims set by Tabung Haji.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom however said that Tabung Haji volunteers are still monitoring the situation and conducting a headcount of pilgrims

“Based on the timetable set by Tabung Haji, our pilgrims are not supposed to be there. The incident happened at around 11am local time and based on our timetable, our pilgrims were only supposed to throw the stones after Asar.

“However, we are ascertaining the number of Malaysian pilgrims by doing a headcount from camp to camp,” he told.

Jamil Khir said early information indicates that the incident had occurred outside the area usually used by Malaysian pilgrims.

“Pilgrims come from different corners to throw but the incident area is far and outside of the Malaysian pilgrims’ residential area,” he said.

He added that while most Malaysian pilgrims are in their respective camps, some others had gone to meet with pilgrims at other camps.

“Some also went to the international pilgrim camps, so we can’t give a definite time on when the headcount will be concluded,” he said.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki, who is in Mecca, also confirmed that no Malaysian were killed in the stampede that has so far claimed at least 310 lives and left 450 people injured.

“Based on what our volunteers have said, no pilgrims have gone outside of the area. We are currently conducting a headcount and we hope that nothing has happened to the Malaysian pilgrims,” he said at a press conference in Mecca on Thursday.

“We urge pilgrims to follow the instructions of the volunteers and not listen to rumours,” he added.

Tabung Haji said it would provide information and updates from time to time.

KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed grief over the stampede in Mina Thursday through his twitter account.

“I feel sad over the incident in Mina. Saudi has done its best. May the souls of the pilgrims who were involved (in the incident) be placed among the virtuous and the martyrs,” he said.

At 11.30am this morning (local time), more than 700 pilgrims were reportedly killed while hundreds more were injured in a stampede near the campsite of pilgrims from Arab countries.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki in a press conference later confirmed that there were no Malaysian pilgrims involved in the incident.


NEW YORK – The Malaysian Government has conveyed its condolences to the families of hundreds of pilgrims killed in the stampede during the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual in Mina, Saudi Arabia Thursday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has also offered prayers to the souls of those killed.

“May their souls be placed alongside the martyrs,” he told Malaysian journalists after performing the Aidiladha prayers at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York in Uptown New York here today.

Also present were Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Malaysian Ambassador to the United States, Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin and Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim.

He also urged Malaysian pilgrims to follow regulations issued by Tabung Haji during the pilgrimage.


KUALA LUMPUR – The death toll in the stampede on Thursday during the annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has risen to 717, according to the Saudi Arabia General Directorate of Civil Defence.

It said in its official Twitter @KSA_998 that 805 others were injured in the 11am (Saudi time) incident caused by large numbers of people pushing at the Street 204 in Mina, outside Makkah to perform the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual.

It said more than 220 ambulances and 4,000 rescue workers had been sent to the stampede’s location to assist the injured.

Street 204, where the stampede occurred is one of the two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, the site where pilgrims ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three large pillars.

The news agency, Reuters reported the incident was the worst to befall the pilgrimage in 25 years since July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims were crushed to death in a tunnel near Makkah.

Both stampedes occurred on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam’s most important feast and the day of the stoning ritual, according to the agency.

In 2006, another stampede during the haj took place when at least 346 pilgrims were killed as they attempted to perform the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual at Jamarat.

Earlier, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said no Malaysian was involved in the haj pilgrim stampede.

He also denied reports spiralling in the social media that the death of Malaysian pilgrim Siti Haryati Shaikh Ali, 43, was related to the stampede.

He said Siti Haryati died at the Makkah Hospital today, due to respiratory ailment.

To date, 16 Malaysians died during the current haj pilgrimage where seven of them succumbed to injuries in the crane collapse while the rest were due to heart and respiratory ailments, he added.

More than three million pilgrims worldwide, including over 22,000 Malaysians are now in the Holy Land to perform the Haj this year.