By Annisa Essack
At 107 years old, Sumiati, a resident of Jombang, East Java, is determined to fly to Mecca next month to go on Hajj despite her declining health. Born on June 1, 1912, she is likely to be the oldest Hajj pilgrim from Indonesia this year.
Sumiati suffers from heart problems and during a Hajj rehearsal held by the local religious affairs office, she felt her hands turn cold before fainting. As a result, she failed to complete the rehearsal, which aims to prepare pilgrims for the rites and ceremonies of Hajj before they fly to Makkah in July.
Her daughter, Tri Kuncorowati, could not help but cry at the thought of Sumiati going on the trip. Sumiati will be accompanied by another daughter, who is herself 60 years old. Sumiati’s husband passed away in 1982.
The family had wanted one of her grandsons to accompany her but the government does not allow people other than the participants’ husbands or children to accompany them.
Sumiati is one of seven Hajj pilgrims from Jombang whose departure date had been accelerated because of their old age. Residents of East Java, a province with the largest number of Hajj applicants after West Java, have to wait for an average of 20 years on the waiting list before they can depart for Makkah.
Sumiati applied for Hajj in 2016 after a delay in 2013 because of health reasons, but the Jombang Religious Affairs Office announced in May that she would be one of the 1,001 hajj pilgrims from Jombang to depart this year.
On hearing the news, Kuncorowati said her family had only one week to pay off the remaining fees for Sumiati and her sister’s pilgrimage, which amounted to $1,768 dollars. The family together has paid three times that amount for the pilgrimage.
As the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia sends more than 200,000 Hajj pilgrims to Makkah annually. In April, the government announced that this year’s Hajj quota would increase to 231,000 pilgrims from the initial 221,000 as a result of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to Saudi Arabia. From the 10,000 additional places, 436 are for East Java, increasing its quota to 35,470 from 35,034 initially.