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Hajj News Articles

7,000 Russians to Perform Hajj

By Damir Ahmed, IOL Correspondent

MOSCOW, December 24 ( – Around 7,000 Muslims in the Russian Federation are to leave for Saudi Arabia early in January to perform Hajj.

Deputy Chairman of the Central Religious Administration of Russian Muslims Mohamed Ghali Khuzen said that procedures to grant the pilgrims entry visas will begin this week and end by January 5.

The number marks an increase of 2.000 pilgrims on that of last year. Some 20-25 million Muslims live in Russia according to the latest census, including 2.5 million in Moscow.

Khuzen told that the increase of pilgrims came after more 350 Muslims from Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan opted for Hajj, and the same that number opted for performing Hajj this year.

The fifth Pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage (hajj) to Makkah and its surroundings, Saudi Arabia. Muslims travel from all over the world every year to perform Hajj.First Batch

Khuzen - who doubles a member of the Russian government Pilgrimage Affairs Council - pointed out that the first batch of pilgrims will leave Kazan on January 3.

Khuzen said in an interview with the Russian Novosti news agency on December 20 that Saudi Arabia would close its land borders on January 11.

A journey by road between Russia and Saudi Arabia takes seven days. Hence, journeys by road will start at the beginning of January 2005, while most air flights will take off between January 10- 12.

Most Russian pilgrims this year will be from northern Caucasus as usual. Most of them will head towards Mecca without passing through the Iraqi territories due to the deteriorating security situation there.

The Russian authorities have asked those pilgrims to be vaccinated against diphtheria and other fatal diseases and decided that each pilgrim should carry a badge carrying his or her name, passport details, and place of residence in the sacred places in the Islamic kingdom.

Most Russian pilgrims are expected to return home by the end of next January.

The number of Russian pilgrims last year amounted to 5.500, less than the quota of visas allocated by virtue of the resolutions of the Organization of Islamic Conference to Saudi Arabia.

The Russian federation includes 10 Islamic republics in addition to Russian provinces and governorates in which a large number of Muslims live.Hajj Rituals

The rituals of Hajj date back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and commemorate his willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isma`il (Ishmael). During the days of Hajj, the pilgrims attempt to forget all but their most basic worldly needs and to focus their attention and devotion on Allah Alone.

Upon arriving in Makkah, the pilgrims first circumambulate the Ka'bah seven times in a ritual known as Tawaf. This ritual reminds the pilgrims that Allah (God) should be the focus and center of their lives.

Many pilgrims also go to Madinah - another Saudi city - before or after Hajj in order to pray in the Prophet’s Mosque and visit his grave, although this visit to Madinah is not a must.