Hajj: Nigerian Muslims may adopt Malaysia, Indonesia model

SHAFAQNA – Stakeholders on Wednesday in Abuja proposed that the National Hajj Commission should adopt the Malaysian system of Hajj operations as the Federal Government would no longer fund pilgrimages in the country.

Under the Malaysian system, intending pilgrims are said to be registered 30 years ahead of the year of their intended Hajj while money paid will be used for other business activities.

The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, stated this position at the end of a three-day post-Hajj stakeholders’ meeting organised by NAHCON at the National Mosque.

According to him, stakeholders in the Muslim faith would soon meet again on new modalities for Hajj operations in the country.

The Sultan accompanied by the Head of 2015 Hajj Muslim Leaders Coordinating Team and Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Muhammadu II, stated that the stakeholders’ meeting became imperative to fashion out better ways through which Hajj exercise would take place without government sponsorship.

He also cited an example of what was obtainable in the Malaysia and some other Islamic countries.

According to him, the withdrawal of government sponsorship was not an aberration, adding that Muslims must find ways of meeting up the challenge of organising Hajj operations to ensure smooth operations and success.

The Sultan said, “We will put up a paper to the government and see any part of the law that can be amended to improve Hajj activities. The 2015 Muslim Hajj was successful but very challenging especially due to the crane collapse and the stampede. The government has withdrawn sponsorship and we have to put extra efforts to ensure that success was recorded for this year’s exercise.

“A stakeholder’s meeting would soon be held on how to make Hajj operations independent of government sponsorship and we are looking at the way it is being done in Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries”

The NAHCON’s Commissioner (Planning, Research Information and Library Services), Dr. Saleh Okenwa, said the meeting was held in three days to afford all stakeholders the opportunity to present and address issues that arose in the 2015 Hajj and fashion out ways for improvement.

He said a committee had been set up to work out modalities for the adoption of the Malaysia system of Hajj operation as a way forward after government withdrawal from hajj sponsorship.

According to him, under the Malaysian system, intending pilgrims are registered 30 years ahead of the year of their intended Hajj while monies paid will be used for other business activities.

It was learnt that in many countries with large Muslim population and a high demand for the Hajj, the Indonesian government had put in place an elaborate system for determining who goes and when.

Intending pilgrims who declare their intention to perform Hajj must pay at least $2,000, that almost a full year’s pay at minimum wage in Jakarta, the capital, where minimum wage was said to be higher than anywhere else in the country, or almost three year’s pay for the more than 43 per cent of Indonesians who live on less than $2 a day, according to a 2011 World Bank data.

The payment secures a spot on a waitlist, which varies in length by region: 12 years at best, 17 at worst. Meanwhile, the money goes into a government-run Hajj fund controlled by the Religious Affairs Ministry.

In his own address, Sanusi said that the Ulamas would work out the differences in Hajj rite and come up with a position.

He said also that it was important for stakeholders to evolve new strategies that would ensure that Muslim pilgrims got better treatment especially in the face of government withdrawal of sponsorship in hajj operations.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Ukeje, said the National Assembly would continuously work for ways to ensure better treatment for Nigerians on pilgrimage.

Earlier in his welcome address, NAHCON Chairman/CEO, Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, had said the stakeholders’ meeting would be continuous for a better hajj operations.

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