‘Most vital second of my life’: Filipinos embark on Hajj after two-year hiatus
MANILA/DAVAO CITY: Bazer Sulaiman was able to carry out the Hajj in 2020, when coronavirus journey restrictions swept the world, stopping him and tens of millions of different overseas pilgrims from reaching Makkah for 2 years.
Considered one of Islam’s 5 essential pillars of religion, the Hajj was restricted over pandemic fears to only one,000 individuals dwelling in Saudi Arabia in 2020. Final yr, the Kingdom restricted the pilgrimage to 60,000 home contributors, in contrast with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million.
However this yr, because it has already lifted most of its COVID-19 curbs, Saudi Arabia will welcome a million pilgrims from overseas — and three,500 of them will come from the Philippines.
A predominantly Christian nation of 110 million individuals, the Philippines has a Muslim minority comprising a few tenth of its inhabitants. Most Filipino Muslims reside within the nation’s south, in components of Mindanao, Palawan and the Sulu Archipelago.
“It’s an important second of my life. I’ve been ready for this,” Sulaiman, a 59-year-old retired policeman, advised Arab Information.
Embarking on his journey to Makkah and Madinah on Wednesday, the 2 holiest websites of Islam, Sulaiman will fly greater than 8,500 km from Parang, Maguindanao province, within the southern a part of Mindanao.
“I wish to meet my fellow Muslims from the opposite facet of the planet,” he mentioned. “I wish to strengthen my religion.”
This yr, the Philippines has been allotted a quota of 4,074 pilgrims, however not all of them will have the ability to be a part of the Hajj because the transportation business nonetheless has not rebounded from two years of pandemic closures and journey prices are excessive, Malo B. Manonggiring, who heads the bureau of pilgrimage of the Nationwide Fee on Muslim Filipinos, advised Arab Information.
“They (the pilgrims) could also be prepared, however the issue is their monetary functionality as a result of the price of doing the Hajj now could be $3,390. Earlier than it was lower than $3,000,” he mentioned.
“The quota given to us was 4,074, however we’re analyzing the scenario, which is why we lowered it to three,500.”
Mike Bantilan, a 58-year-old who’s touring to Makkah from Cotabato Metropolis in Maguindanao, has been supported by his household to carry out the pilgrimage.
“There have been donations from my family,” he mentioned. “Due to my pleasure and considering of the memorable journey, there have been nights I couldn’t sleep.”
Bantilan has already processed all of the paperwork, and ready himself bodily, as he’ll journey this week.
“It’s compulsory for all Muslims who can afford to attend the Hajj,” he mentioned. “I’m doing this for Allah.”