Lebanese Wadha Radwan has been dreaming of performing Hajj for years, her request was repeatedly rejected, but she continued to save money in the hope that the day would come when she could achieve what she wanted, until everything was dispersed. , after learning how expensive it had become in light of the situation Lebanon is going through and because of the high tariffs imposed on Saudi Arabia.
Wadha works in agriculture and according to what she says on the Al-Hurra website, what I harvest I eat and the rest of the produce I sell. I am talking about small quantities and small land. I have saved about six million Syrian pounds. I went to apply for Hajj and was shocked that the payment was $ 5500, or about 150 million Syrian pounds. To take my disappointment and return to my home. “
Following the suspension of the Hajj season for two years due to the Corona pandemic, (as it was limited to a limited number of locals), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is preparing to host one million pilgrims in the first third of next July, big. most of them are abroad, and their number is 850,000, at the time announced the High Council for Hajj and Umrah has completed the arrangements.
The number of pilgrims in 2019 reached about 2.5 million pilgrims and this year the Saudi Ministry of Hajj has set the rules for performing the obligatory Hajj, stating that “this year’s Hajj will be for the under 65 age group, provided for completed immunization with basic doses of Covid-19 vaccines approved by the Ministry of Health. ” Saudi Arabia”.
Authorities also determined that pilgrims from outside the Kingdom “present a negative result of the Corona virus test for a sample taken within 72 hours before the departure date”, stressing the need for pilgrims to adhere to precautions and follow preventive instructions when performing of them. rituals, “to maintain their health and safety”.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and “because of the hardships and money that God has imposed on Muslims only once in a lifetime,” according to the former General Director of the Islamic Waqf in Lebanon, the imam of the Al-Jamiat Mosque. Awza’i, Sheikh Hisham Khalifa, who explained that “Prophet Muhammad said that Hajj is for those who are able to do so, i.e. when the ability, health skills and maintenance are available for what Hajj wants to perform and for his family if he leaves them in his place, as then it becomes an obligation and obligation for every Muslim.
And “from God’s mercy on Muslims is that he performed Hajj,” according to Sheikh Khalifa, “with weakness, which means that the Muslim has a lot of life to perform these rituals, but if he has the skills of all mentioned “and falls short, then takes responsibility and asks why he delays the performance of this mandatory task.” “.
The first time Wadha applied to perform Hajj, she was 38 years old and this year she was ready to issue a passport in the hope that she would be among the Hajj pilgrims. “All this money and I work in agriculture to help my husband, who works as a sales representative, in order to meet the needs of our six children.”
The situation was as clear as that of Muhammad Abdul Rahman, who twice applied to perform the Hajj, but, as he tells the Al-Hurra website, “The Corona pandemic stood in the way at the time, but today, after the ban was lifted “and things have almost returned to their previous state of health, a new barrier has emerged, which is costly.”
In the past, Muhammad (58) could pay $ 2,200 for Hajj, but this year, even if $ 500 is required, he can not do so. “Lebanon, I am the father of seven children, and since Hajj has become so costly, I do not know if God will write it for me in the years to come.”
Some difficulties prevented a Muslim from performing the Hajj, and after the difficulties, as Sheikh Khalifa told the Al-Hurra website, “they were healthy due to the Corona pandemic, as they spent months without being able to perform the pilgrimage to the Ka’bah, the difficulty this year remains in the material aspect of general Muslims, as everyone knows, Hajj has degrees, as some campaigns set the cost of Hajj (ordinary) from 5000 to 6000 dollars. hotel and other, these services have a price of up to 12 thousand dollars.
There is no doubt that the cost of Hajj this year has embarrassed Muslims, and the practical evidence, according to Sheikh Khalifa, is that “in the past about 10,000 people have been handed over from Lebanon with visas for courtesy and exemptions. , the number reached about 20 thousand, but the number of applications to date is not He exceeds 2500 people and this is an extraordinary phenomenon in light of the love and desire of Muslims to visit the Kaaba, the Prophet and Medina, which shows that there is a real crisis and it is a financial crisis. “
Added to the economic crisis were the profits of the campaign owners, who were asked by Sheikh Khalifa if they wanted to maintain the percentage of their profits as in previous years, “and they are certainly good profits, which means that they contribute to the growth of the cost of those who want to perform Hajj in these difficult circumstances ”.
Increasing the value of tariffs imposed in Saudi Arabia
Also, part of the cost increase is due, according to the sheikh, to “raising the value of tariffs imposed in Saudi Arabia, from two hundred dollars to about two thousand dollars, in addition to the price of plane tickets, which increased globally as a result of high fuel costs. ” He states: “The inability of a Muslim to secure the expenses of Hajj is not his responsibility, on the contrary, he intended to perform Hajj with a sincere intention, a certain desire and with genuine longing, and prevented him from foreign affairs. to his control, then writes the reward of Hajj, so that the honor of God is marked in his sincere intention.
The official Lebanese part of the Hajj visas, according to the director of the “Hajj and Umrah Care Authority”, Ibrahim Itani, on the Al-Hurra website, is 4000 visas, in addition to them, according to what was confirmed by the owner of the Company ” Saudi-Lebanese Hajj and Umrah Campaign “, Tariq Kalash, visas with courtesy and exemptions, 1,500 visas for Palestinians residing in the country and 5,500 visas for Syrians residing, as these belong to a special committee known as the High Committee Syrian Hajj.
In 2019, Middle East Airlines – Lebanese Airways – announced that the number of pilgrims the company transported to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj has reached more than 20,700 pilgrims during the departure season, and the company has performed 99 additional flights. in Jeddah and Madinah, and for this purpose 26. Regular journey, a total of 125 journeys over 11 days.
Lebanon’s quota has been reduced to 3,000 this year, according to Itani. ”.
Kalash explains, “When the door to applications opened, the issue was limited to 6,000 people who had previously applied for 2020 and 2021, but only 800 of them confirmed their trip, prompting the Lebanese government to issue an appendix to the application. ‘u open. door to applications, bringing the number to about 1600 requests, to repeat the process until the number reaches about 2500 requests.
Nima Al-Najjar (57) wishes to be written Hajj, it was she who registered her name last year after she managed to save a lot of money, but Hajj was limited to a number of residents in Saudi Arabia. Arabia, and after the great decline of the value of the national currency, it could no longer perform this task. She muffled her voice and said: “No Muslim wants to visit the Holy Land and see the Ka’bah, but unfortunately he has. no fraud in hand. “
Naama has a Samana store in northern Lebanon, which is the source of her livelihood to support her family of 3 children, one of whom worked in Beirut, and after shipping fees increased, he had to leave work and help. the mother, who says: “We cooperate with his child’s money, as he needs milk, diapers, etc., from here just thinking about Hajj has become a fantasy and as the situation worsens, initiatives should be taken that give those who wish to perform this task among the poor an opportunity to do so.
Omar Gharib and his wife also registered their names last year for Hajj, at that time the cost was $ 3000 per person, but this year, after his money was reserved in the bank, he will not be able to fulfill his dream. his. “The Corona pandemic saw it and because my financial situation was good after working in the paint field, it fell due to the difficult economic conditions that Lebanon is going through.”
For the reason of the high cost of Hajj this year, Itani pointed out that this is due to the global economy, as rising prices have affected the whole world, while Kalash estimated that the economic crisis is the main reason for the decline in the number of Hajj applicants.
He explains, “Lebanese money is seized in banks. There is a liquidity problem, in addition to high costs this year, as Saudi Arabia split the companies involved in providing Hajj services, which were affiliated with the Ministry of Hajj. These companies decided to pay a fee (the route of the Hajj services package) for obtaining the visa, which goes to $ 2100, as the cost of checks for Hajj services was $ 250 and the price of travel tickets increased by $ 150, from 540. to $ 690.
After the names of the pilgrims were chosen according to the elders and the youngest, taking into account those who had previously performed the obligatory Hajj, this year it was approved that all those who paid the road fee for the Hajj service package should not 65 years pass. from the age.
Forty institutions in Lebanon have submitted applications to be officially accredited, 17 of them have been approved, says Kalash, and the reason is that the campaign must prove that there are at least 30 people who have applied for Hajj through it.
And Saudi Arabia closed the Grand Mosque, which includes the Kaaba, in March 2020, to return and receive worshipers last October, and in early March, the Kingdom announced the lifting of most restrictions, including social distancing in public places and quarantine for vaccinated migrants. With the arrival of the first pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom, three weeks before the start of the sacred rites for Muslims, Saudi Arabia announced the abolition of the obligatory keeping of the muzzle in closed places, with the exception of the sanctuary. places in Mecca and Medina.
After Sheikh Khaled Harmoush (an appointed imam in Dar Al-Fatwa) organized Hajj campaigns, each of which included about 100 pilgrims, this year the number was limited to twenty pilgrims. The price is $ 5,500, which includes everything except food and drink, and our trip is supposed to be on the second date of next July. ”
The same goes for the “Right Road” campaign, in which the number of registrants has dropped from 75 in 2019 to 10 this year and its owner, Ali Othman says: “The situation is very difficult, even though our campaign is popular. , but its cost is from 5200 to 5500 dollars, even if the amount was between 3000 and 3500 dollars it would have registered from 30 to 40 people and I ensure that our profit has become almost non-existent. “
He added, “We hope the Saudi authorities will provide incentives and facilities to encourage Lebanese Muslims to perform Hajj, especially as the 150 150 million’s savings have become almost impossible in Lebanon and charities should provide assistance.” This is a season of worship, and if Hajj is for those who are able, it is certainly possible. ” It is impossible for any Lebanese Muslim in these difficult circumstances.