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Hajj News Articles

French Pilgrims Mostly Youth
 
 

By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent

PARIS, January 3 (IslamOnline.net) – Some 25,000 French Muslims are expected to perform hajj, over 60% of them are youth, a sign of a new "French and European phenomenon", according to experts of community affairs in Europe.

Most young hajj applicants are the sons of second and third generations of Arab and Muslim migrants in France. They have been approaching travel agencies in droves recently to book tickets to Saudi Arabia to perform the fifth pillar of Islam.

"The rising numbers of young French Muslims moving to perform hajj could be attributed to their keenness on discovering more spiritual horizons and on getting closer to their faith, in a social and cultural reality that makes religious practices very limited," Abdul Hafez Al-Khumeiry, editor-in-chief of the French Generations magazine, covering the status and affairs of young French Muslims, told IslamOnline.net.

He added that hajj is no more associated with old people, as French and European hajj trips have seen thousands of 15-35-year olds performing the Islamic spiritual journey to the sacred places in Saudi Arabia.

Khumeiry further said that financial potentials are another key motive behind the increasing numbers of young pilgrims from France and Europe, in general.

Hajj costs range between 2,500 to 3,000 euros per person.

Most French pilgrims prefer to take an air trip to the Saudi Kingdom to perform hajj. Some, however, opt for the long road journey through the Balkan, Turkey, Syria and Jordan, to make it to Saudi Arabia.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and an essential part of Muslims’ faith and practice on the condition of physical and financial ability.

It consists of several ceremonies meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Discovering JourneyFrench youth, vying for the holy journey, do have other reasons for performing hajj. Some of them see it as a journey to discover and know more about other countries and peoples during the world assembly of Muslims.

"In addition to its spiritual sides, hajj, for me, is a journey for religious tourism," Abdul Kader Sart, 23, a young French Muslim, to perform hajj for the second time this year, told IOL.

Two years ago, young French Muslims in the Saint Donnes district organized a collective hajj trip, citing as one of its main goals knowing more about Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Sart added.

Khumeiry cited the love of adventure and discovery marking European youth, in general, and French youth Muslims, in particular, to the fact that they have been raised in a western society, usually featured with the love of discovery.

Groups of French pilgrims have started landing in Saudi Arabia since December 24, and their flights are expected to continue till early January.

Estimates indicate there are some 5-6 million Muslims living in France, mostly from north African countries and Turkey.

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