Archive for the ‘Makkah’ Tag

Hajj – 1429

Around three million Muslims from around the world have gathered in Makkah to perform the annual Hajj – the fifth pillar of Islam. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and a symbol of the solidarity of the Muslims and their submission to Allah. It is a five day long event and occurs from the 8th to 12th of Zil-Hajj. Muslims irrespective of their colour, caste, creed, status travel to the holy land to perform their obligation towards Allah. From India and Pakistan, almost 200, 000 pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj under different schemes/policies announced by their governments. But whats susprising is that it costs almost double for the 85,000 Pakistani pilgrims compared to their Indian counterparts.

In Pakistan, there are two categories for Haj pilgrims – government and private. In the first category, the minimum amount that could be spent is Rs 200,000. This could go up to Rs 800,000 in the private category depending on the class of travel, and quality of transport and stay in Makkah and Medina. This translates into a minimum of $2,500 as the cost of the pilgrimage. Whats interesting is the fact that the Government does not subsidize any portion of the cost in any way whatsoever. In comparison, in India a pigrim has to pay a minimum of $1,400 for the entire pilgrimage thanks to the massive subsidies offered by their Government.

Pakistan being a Muslim country, where a huge majority simply cannot afford such an hefty amount, should at least offer some subsidy to its people leaving them with at least a chance of fulfulling this important, but not mandatory, obligation of Islam. Instead, this event is used as a means for Pakistan International Airlines(PIA) to recover some of its losses for the year.