Umm Muhammed Umar
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised SAHUC, the South African Hajj and Umrah Council, that the South African quota for 2022 (1443 Hijri) is 1132 pilgrims. Radio Islam spoke to Brother Shaheen Essop, the president of SAHUC.
Brother Shaheen said if we looked at what transpired a few weeks ago, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had made an announcement that 1 million people would perform Hajj – 850 000 from outside of the Kingdom and 150 000 from within – that obviously signalled a massive reduction in the quota for every country around the world. South Africa was no exception. On examination, other countries that have received their quota, of around 40 to 45%, of the number of pilgrims that would normally have been allowed to perform Hajj. Brother Shaheen explained, “that is where the calculation comes in, from a point of view that we’ve had 2500 In the past, and we now have 1132 for this particular year.”
The accreditation of the 1 132 prospective Hajj pilgrims would be guided by ‘date and time priority’. Brother Shaheen said, “It is the fairest and most equitable process that one can actually work with…. people that had been accredited to perform Hajj 2020 but deferred to a later year would be prejudiced, so date and time priority would remain the fairest and most equitable.”
Brother Shaheen explained that every country around the world, whether Muslim or not, had a quota. The ratio 1000 Hajis per 1 million Muslims. He said, “there is no differentiation (between the quota calculation of Muslim and non-Muslim countries) because of the limited space on the mashair in Mina, as well as limited space in Muzdalifah and Arafah. Open quotas would not work, given the size of the populations of some countries, for example, India of China. The ratio of a thousand Hujjaaj to every million Muslims in a country had been worked out in 1986, prior to the creation of SAHUC, by the OIC. He added, “The ministry will obviously determine once they’ve received the take up of quota from around the world, if there any countries that have not fulfilled their quota, then offer it out to other countries.”
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has indicated that only those under 65 could perform Hajj this year. All Hujjaaj have also to be fully vaccinated, with proof of the vaccinations by virtue of a certificate that will possibly be uploaded onto the Tawakalna and Itemerna applications. Before entering the Kingdom, a PCR test must be conducted and one would only be allowed entry if that test proved negative. Brother Shaheen said, “If the test is positive, obviously, and you do have your vaccinations, then, unfortunately, you won’t be allowed to travel.”