The secretary general of Uganda Bureau of Hajj Affairs, Sheikh Zakariya Kyewalyanga, said a total of 1,500 Muslims from Uganda would participate in the pilgrimage and would leave in batches until September 23.
“They are travelling in groups of 40, 42, 50, 20, 35, 60, 20, 35, 75, 50 and 430 using various Airlines including Turkish, Emirates and Ethiopian. They will all be staying in one house in Medina and Mecca for easy monitoring,” Kyewalyanga told New Vision on Wednesday. Pilgrims and their relatives at Entebbe International Airport before leaving for Hajj on Sept 18, 2014.
He said majority of them were women because of their high chances of getting the opportunity from their husbands and their increasing venturing into business.
The Hajj is essentially a series of rites performed in and near the holy city of Mecca to re-enact the actions of the Prophet Muhammad about 1,382 years ago.
It occurs in the month of Dhul Hijjah which is the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and climaxes with the celebration of Eid-el-Adhuha—the feast of the sacrifice and the greater Eid—expected to fall on October 4.
Hajj is a religious duty which must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every sane adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey and can support his family during his absence.
The head of Sharia department at the Islamic University in Uganda, Sheikh Abdul Hafiz Walusimbi, said once a year, Muslims of every ethnic group, colour, social status and culture gather together in Mecca and stand before the Kaaba (Sacred House) praising Allah together.
“It is a ritual that is designed to promote the bonds of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood by showing that everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah and it is also a reminder of the grand assembly of the Day of Judgement when people will stand equal before Allah waiting for their final destiny,” Walusimbi noted.
Although not part of the prescribed pilgrimage, many pilgrims carry on to Medina and visit Masjid al-Nabawī, often called the Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque which he himself built and where his grave lies.
Sheikh Muniiru Sebintu, an officer in charge of Daawa at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council urged the pilgrims to exhibit high moral conduct and called on them to pray for the sustenance of peace in the country.
“They should be disciplined and good ambassadors of the Muslims in Uganda and the country at large. The Prophet Muhammad said that ‘whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not have sexual relations, nor commits a sin or disputes unjustly during the Hajj, will come back (free from all sins) like the day his mother gave birth to him’,” he said.
Many intending pilgrims expressed their appreciation to the Saudi Arabian Embassy for the issuance of visas and putting measures in place to smoothen the journey for them.
“This year, there has been no problem. Everything is going on smoothly. Our passports and every other arrangement were done on time. Last year, there were some outstanding matters but this year, nothing has happened,” said Ibrahim Ssentogo from Mityana.
In 2010, a total of 200 Muslim pilgrims missed to join the over three million pilgrims over late registration.
Hajj activities include circling the Kaaba (sacred House) seven times in a counterclockwise direction to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God and walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa to re-enact the actions of search for water by the wife of Prophet Ibrahim, Hajar for her baby Ismail.
The pilgrims also sip some Zam Zam water from the Zam Zam well, the sacred well which opened in the desert to save Hajara and Ismail from dying of thirst.
Conditions for the rituals:
To carry out the pilgrimage rituals one has to be in a state of Ihram, which is a special state of ritual purity.
This is achieved by making a statement of intention, wearing special white clothes (which are also called ihram) and obeying the regulations such as not engaging in marital relations, shaving or cutting nails, not using cologne oils, killing or hunting anything, fighting or arguing.
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