South Africans Hujjaj have been left in shock after the Saudi Arabian Ministers Council resolved to reduce the quotas of nations by 20%. The impact for South Africa is a reduction of 500 visas.
Below is the press statement released by the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) relating to this pertinent issue.
On 5 April 2013, the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) signed the Agreements for Hajj 1434 as forwarded by the Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj, Dr Bandar bin Mohammad al-Hajjaar.
And in terms thereof, SAHUC was awarded 2500 visas for Hajj 1434H (2013). On 3 June 2013, we were reliably informed that the Saudi Arabian Ministers Council resolved to reduce the quotas of nations by 20%. The impact for South Africa is a reduction of 500 visas.
We have not been formally informed, but have been notified telephonically that the letter is en route to SAHUC via the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pretoria.
SAHUC has accredited 2500 pilgrims out of 16174 applications for Hajj 1434. These 2500 pilgrims took up packages from 18 Hajj Operators. SAHUC has on receipt of the username and password of the Hajj Ministry online Hajji tracking system, loaded the required information per Hajj Operator into the online tracking system.
This development is beyond the control of SAHUC we urge the community, especially the affected Hajji to exercise patience whilst during this trying time. We have alerted DIRCO and our Diplomatic Corp in the KSA to the problem seeking Government’s assistance to find a resolve.
Whilst the Haram (Holy Mosque in Makkah) is undergoing major renovations to increase capacity for pilgrims and will not be ready in time for Hajj, we must be understanding to the plight of the Saudi government but also try to the best of our ability that our 2500 accredited Hujjaaj actually performs Hajj in 1434H (2013).
All attempts are being made to facilitate 2500 Hujjaaj, however, the possibility exists that we have to de-accredit 500 persons applying the date and time basis of application.
It is our fervent dua that ALLAH guide, helps and protect us. For ALLAH All-mighty is the supreme helper.
Radio Islam spoke to the Secretary General of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) Shaheen Essop regarding this pertinent issue. Listen to the podcast here: Hajj Quota Reduced
Quota: SA hangs on
With the shock now beginning to settle in that South Africa’s haj quota of 2,500 may be cut by 500 as Saudi haj authorities globally cut their quotas by 20 – 50% due to building construction, South Africans appear to be taking the announcement calmly. While some bemoaned the fact that there is a new haj crisis every year, most seem to understand that the possible cut in the SA quota was based on this year’s circumstances brought on by the mataf construction that Saudi’s fear will not be done before this year’s haj.
Acccredited haji, Shanaaz, was horrified. “Ya Allah, after waiting so long, I will be devastated, I think. We have already paid our haj package in full up front! Make dua the Saudi’s do not decrease our SA Quota.” A relative of another accredited haji, Fatima Isaacs, related: “My mother has been accredited for hajj, but since this talk about the quota being cut, she cannot stop crying.” Raf Hussain said he was accredited this year and queried how he would know if he forms part of the 500 hujaj that would be cut from haj 1434.
Most other VOC listeners seemed to take it in their stride. “Oh eish! We pray that it does not affect us,” Saaj said on Facebook. Said Nashietah: “May Allah make it easy for all accredited hujjaj, insha Allah.” Nadiah wrote: “With all the extensive renovations happening on the mataf, we understand the situation for safety reasons.”
Ebrahim wrote: “When it comes to situations like this, it really makes one realize that we have to search our hearts and be serious about going for haj. Only then does Allah open the way for us. May we all take a lesson from this and all make dua that our hujjaj are not affected by this decision of the Saudi Haj Ministry.”
Moustafa concurred. “The Saudi government is doing the best it can to expand the Haram, but some people, like in Egypt, for example, perform haj and umrah as if they are just popping next door. It is far cheaper for them compared to South Africa where haj is now becoming as scarce as having a second child in China,” the Egyptian migrant wrote.
Shinaz, however, was not happy. “Why? So that Saudi can build their elaborate hotels? Shocking!” Aunty Nazeema said while she understood the urgency of the renovations in the Kingdom, travel operators in the Western Cape would be severely affected. With the 2,500 quota, travel agents have over the last few years, had a small pool of haj travellers to service during haj. With the possible cut, they will have less hujaj to carry to the Kingdom.
“How many missionary or medical staff travels within the quota? How much is the head of the mission going to be paid? This is not explained in roadshows and hujaj do not understand the system,” she added. “Every year there is some sort of scandal. What next for the poor hujjaj.” But another onliner was quick to point out: “This is not a scandal. SA did what was required. This is a disaster that was never expected.”
Mogamat Salie said his duas were with all accredited hujjaj. “We were fortunate to go on haj last year, alhamdulilah. During this time of the year plans and excitement are already in full swing, I can only imagine how they feel.” Gadija Arnold said: “May Allah (SWT) put sabr in the hearts of all hujjaj, Allah knows best.”
On Facebook, Nawhal wrote that it was time for Muslims to join in dua on the issue: “I’m so making dua that countries with quotas of 5,000 and less will not be penalized. There is power in dua, maybe VOC should ask people to start doing this after their salah, say a special dua out loud for the hujjaj to help all of them. It must be the most dreadful feeling for our accredited hujjaj. Allah knows best, we are thinking of all of you.”
Regular caller, Rafeeq, also felt there was room for positivity. “The news is shocking, especially for those who have made preparations and are excited about going. But do not despair. Place your trust in Allah. Believe that if He has taken your name to come for a visit, no quota, no ministry… No Sahuc, nobody will stand in your way. So let’s turn the negative into a positive. Also remember, the Arabs are busy with great things in Makkah and Madina and we need to support them by saying that if I cannot go this time, then insha Allah, next time,” he said sagely. VOC