Azhar Vadi | Cii News | 20 August 2013
The South African Hajj and Umrah Council’s new president, Shaheen Essop, says future hajj accreditation for pilgrims will be closed for the next few years if current quota numbers remain.
The Hajj regulator, SAHUC, currently has about 16 000 pilgrims on its system who have been accredited to go for the annual pilgrimage. Only 2000 have been permitted this year.
Muslims around the world desire to complete the pilgrimage that is obligatory on a person who has the means to travel to the revered city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia at least once in a lifetime.
Recent construction work around the holy sites in the city has resulted in Saudi authorities cutting down on the number of pilgrims worldwide. About 3 million people make the journey annually.
Millions attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage
The restriction in numbers has seen the South African quota reduced from 2500 pilgrims in 2012 to 2000 this year. If this continues in upcoming years, it could take SAHUC up to eight years to work through the backlog of accredited prospective Hujjaj.
“In order to make sure that we have a fair and equitable structure, we have shut down the accreditation (of new pilgrims) until we can try to reduce the backlog,” said Essop.
The newly elected president of SAHUC added that they have consulted Islamic scholars who say that the obligation of pilgrimage falls away if there is no way for people who can afford it and want to go for Hajj but are prevented through such circumstances.
“The Ulema bodies who sit with us at the National Governing Council have given the indication that when a person has the means but we cannot accommodate the person due to the quota, then Hajj does not become compulsory on that person.”
New Office Bearers and Board for the next two years were elected over the weekend after an Annual General Meeting
The in-coming Office Bearers and Board of SAHUC are:
President – Shaheen Ayub Essop
1st Deputy President – Ebrahim Vawda
2nd Deputy – President Mohammed Groenewald
Secretary General – Hassan Choonara
Assistant Secretary General – Moulana Abdul Fattaag Carr
Treasurer – Asif Essop
Assistant Treasurer – Goolam Kolia
Board Members – Hafez Ismail Kholvadia, Sedick Steenkamp, Ebrahim Simjee
Three additional members (Chairs of the regions) will make up the balance of the Board following the regional elections.