The airlift of Nigerian pilgrims who performed the 2018 Hajj in Saudi Arabia will commence on Monday, the 27th of August, 2018.
This was agreed at a meeting in the Nigerian Consulate Office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, held late on Saturday night, between officials of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria-NAHCON and representatives of the Hajj 2018 Air Carriers.
Also at the meeting were Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Muhammad Isa Dodo, a select crew of NAHCON staff and a few Journalists.
Voice of Nigeria gathered that the decision to move the departures forward was in response to appeals by some pilgrims who were anxious to return to Nigeria, as soon as possible.
Completion of the Rites of Hajj:
The main obligatory acts of Hajj were concluded following the completion of the 3rd day of pebbles-throwing (stoning of the devil) in Jamarah and the return of all pilgrims from Mina to Makkah on the 13th of Dhul-Hijja. (Friday the 24th of August, 2018).
Most Nigerian pilgrims performed their Tawwaf Ifadah, which entails the circumbulation of the Ka’abah seven times and the Sa’ae or brisk walk between the small hills of Safa and Marwah.
Pilgrims thereafter, shaved or trimmed their heads (for the males) while the women cut a third of a finger length of their hair, before removing their Ihram (pilgrimage clothing).
The only remaining act now is the Tawwaf az-Ziyarah, which is the farewell circumbulation performed hours before the pilgrims depart from Makkah, to embark on their home-bound journey
“Hajj is Arafat:”
A well-known Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) signifies that standing on Arafat is an essential part of Hajj. Scholars have interpreted the saying to mean that ‘Whoever misses the standing (on Arafat) has missed Hajj.’
Hajj is the largest annual religious gathering in the world.
It officially starts on the evening of the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts for five days until the 12th but some pilgrims still perform Hajj on the 13th of the same Islamic month, corresponding to Friday August 24th, 2018.
All Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the pilgrimage are required to do so at least once in their lives.
Saudi Authorities ready for departures:
Meanwhile, Saudi authorities say they are ready to facilitate smooth departure for all pilgrims from the Holy land.
Dr Fahad Altekhaifi, the Head of the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics, GASTAT, said arrangements have been concluded to ensure a hitch-free process from the point of arrival to the last set of departures.
More than 450 statistical researchers were engaged to collate, document and interprete the statistical data and information generated specifically for planning and organising the 2018 Hajj.
Dr Altekhaifi thanked all the governmental security entities that supported GASTAT in the compilation of this year’s Hajj statistics.
“Our mission was to provide accurate and detailed statistics, data and information about the number of pilgrims from inside and outside Saudi Arabia,” Dr Altekhaifi said.
A total of 2,371,675 international and domestic pilgrims performed the 2018 Hajj, of which 1,758,722 pilgrims came from outside Saudi Arabia, while 612,953 came from inside the Kingdom and comprised both citizens and residents.