Home Tribune Nigerian pilgrims, others converge on Mount Arafat as hajj climaxes today

Nigerian pilgrims, others converge on Mount Arafat as hajj climaxes today

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Nigerian pilgrims, others converge on Mount Arafat as hajj climaxes today

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ABOUT 40,000 Nigerian pilgrims will today join other pilgrims from across the world to climb the Mount Arafat, which is the climax of the annual hajj exercise.

Today’s Arafat Day is coming after two years of hiatus, 2020-2021, during which international pilgrims were not allowed to participate in hajj, which is the fifth pillar of Islam.

The Day of Arafat falls on 9 Dhul-Hijjah and second of the five-day spiritual exercise, preceding 10 Dhul-Hijjah when Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-ul Adha to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)’s obedience to Allah to sacrifice his son, Ismail.

The spiritual exercise started on Thursday when the about one million pilgrims participating in this year’s hajj converged on Mina, also known as the Tent City, from where they will move to Mount Arafat this morning.

Meanwhile, a total of 33,290 Nigerian pilgrims were successfully airlifted to Saudi Arabia by the National hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) as of Wednesday night in a total of 77 flights.

The number might have increased as more Nigerian pilgrims were expected to have been airlifted on Thursday before the 12 midnight extended deadline granted Nigeria to airlift all its pilgrims to the holy land.

The chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, described this year’s pilgrimage as “emergency hajj” but expressed the readiness of the commission to ensure a successful outing of Nigerian pilgrims in this year’s hajj.

He said the commission had played its role to ensure this.

Hassan, who said that with the movement of Hajj to Mina signified the commencement of the annual spiritual exercise, acknowledged that there were some hitches with the outbound airlift of pilgrims from Nigeria, particularly licensed tour operators’ pilgrims.

He said the problem arose as a result of lost flights, noting that 25 of such flights were lost because many states were not ready for the airlift of their pilgrims.

Hassan noted that NAHCON was duty-bound to bring all registered Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

He said: “I know that we are duty-bound to carry all the pilgrims here and after that, we would review why it was so.

“For instance, we lost 25 flights because many states were not ready for the flights. At the time we are near the deadline, we needed just about five flights and it became a challenge. We will certainly overcome this, in shaa Allah.”

The Nigerian Consul-General, Alhaji Mansur Abdulkareem, said the Consul was ready to collaborate with NAHCON in terms of providing diplomatic duty with view to ensuring the success of this year’s hajj.

Alhaji Abdulkareem stated that the two-year break in opening the Hajj to international pilgrims warranted the challenges being faced in this year’s hajj operations.

He said: “I am here to work with the hajj commission. Our duty is diplomatic duty. We take care of Nigerians here, whether it is a threat or anything. We are here to cater for all Nigerians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, no matter their situation, whether they are law-abiding or not.

“Hajj was suspended for some years and it has been rekindled. We are here. We are having challenges but that is not to say the challenges are not surmountable.”

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