Pilgrims from US, UK, Europe and Pakistan join group for 'incredible' Hajj

Organiser Dr Mohammad Siddiq Khandwani thanks God "for making this journey easy"

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Dr Mohammad Siddiq Khandwani has brought 100 pilgrims from UK, USA, mainland Europe and Pakistan to Saudi Arabia for Hajj.

“This is our 27th Hajj operation,” he told The National.

He said detailed arrangements had been made for pilgrims during their stay in Arafat.

“We listened to the khutbah and prayed in Al Namirah Mosque in the afternoon.”

“Pilgrims have been immersed in their ibadah [worship], and we are making arrangements to settle them in once they finish performing their rites ― to make sure they have a clean, cool area to relax and pray.

“We are making sure the food is fresh and healthy, served to pilgrims on time,” he added.

“All things are on track. The logistics are good too. We thank God for making this journey easy, especially this year, for the pilgrims.

This year has seen the resumption of a large-scale Hajj, with about one million pilgrims taking part.

Due to the pandemic, only 10,000 Saudi residents participated in 2020, while last year 60,000 Saudi residents who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 made the pilgrimage.

Before the pandemic, up to three million pilgrims had made the journey.

Dr Muhammed speaks several languages, including Arabic, Urdu and English, and volunteers to help pilgrims from several groups, if required.

His wife helps women pilgrims who may have queries or concerns.

Usman Saaeed, a Pakistani pilgrim from the US is performing the pilgrimage with his wife.

“This is my first time to perform Hajj. Everything is very comfortable and we are enjoying our journey. So far, it's been easy,” he said.

“This is my wife's first Hajj as well. The experience has been splendid.”

The group of men and women travel together, so families can be together during the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims at the Khandwani group in Arafat. The National

“The learning experience with this group has been incredible. They have brought counsellors for the pilgrimage and they give us lectures on Deen (religion) and Dunya (world). It's been great.

“It's easy to converse because the Imam's and even our organiser Mr Khandwani speaks in several languages, including English and in Urdu,” Mr Saaeed said.

Other pilgrims in the Khandwani group said organisers made sure the tents were cool, there was ample space for everyone to relax that and fresh food was served.

Amir Ismail, from Leicester, in central England, said the journey has been “comfortable, easy and no complaints from the moment we arrived. It's been a great experience.”

He said Hajj has changed over the years, that it has “definitely become more luxurious and easy for pilgrims now”.

“We don't even feel the heat, the tents are air-conditioned, and there is readily available food and drinks.

“May God help us appreciate his blessings more so we can exert ourselves more in worship.”

Mubashir Aliya, a Pakistani pilgrim, said she is performing Hajj with Khandwani group and “everything is better than expected and has been easy for the pilgrims”.

Arafat sermon in images

Updated: July 09, 2022, 8:00 AM