…bemoan incessant killings in Nigeria
The Federal Government has been challenged to halt the growing rate of religious and ethnic crises in the country. An organization of Muslim women, AL-MU’MINAAT, which posed this challenge to the government stated that the government officials should to take the bull by the horns and by bringing the perpetrators of the killings to book. Reacting to the recent violent clash in Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State,which claimed over 55 lives, the organization, which gave the charge in a statement, noted that quick and appropriate punishment for sponsors and perpetrators of violence had become necessary in view of the loss of respect for human life and dignity which always manifested in such mayhems.
The statement signed by the Amirah of Abuja zone, Hajia Khadijah Muhammad Awwal read that the negative consequences of such crises for the country in the comity of nations, reminded the government that Nigerians, and, indeed, the whole world, were awaiting the result of investigation into the Kaduna crisis. The Islamic women group stated that it was particularly pained that the Kaduna mayhem had religious undertone, as all religions preach against taking of innocent lives.
“Killing is a crime and a major sin in Islam. The religion kicks against, and even prescribes punishment for, indiscriminate and unjust killing of animals. It is a religion that holds life as sacred. No man is allowed to take the life of a fellow being. Islam abhors terror and violence, especially against women and minors. The position of other religions is similar in these respects.
It is, then, baffling to see people taking lives on the basis of religion,” the group said. It implored religious leaders to be agents of peace by making their followers realise the dangers of religious intolerance. As another election year draws near, the Al-Mu’minnat Organisation called on Nigerians to unite to bring the much-needed development to the country.
200 families of Christchurch massacre victims invited for Hajj
King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has ordered invitation and hosting of 200 of the families of the victims of Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. The hosting is part of the Saudi King Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah that is implemented and supervised by the Islamic Affairs Ministry. Minister of Islamic Affairs and General Supervisor of the Program, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, said in statements to the Saudi Press Agency that the initiative was part of the Kingdom’s counterterrorism efforts. He said that ministry would follow up the required procedures through the Saudi embassy in New Zealand to finalize their departure to the Kingdom and provide them with all facilities to perform the pilgrimage. The Saudi king had ordered hosting 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims this year. The Christchurch mosque shootings were two consecutive terrorist shooting attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during the Friday prayers on March 15, 2019, which left 51 Muslim worshippers killed. King Salman also ordered Saudi Arabia to host 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims from the families of martyrs to perform Hajj next month. The pilgrims will be part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah. The Saudi minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh expressed his appreciation for King Salman’s “generous gesture towards the Palestinian state and its brotherly people,” the Saudi Press Agency reported Sunday. Al-Asheikh said the ministry would work swiftly on executing the king’s order by following up on the pilgrims’ traveling process through its embassies in Egypt and Jordan. The ministry would also finalize all procedures needed for their travel to the kingdom on private flights, and offer services to help them perform the duty of Hajj.
Hajj 2019: NDLEA gives last warning to pilgrims
…says gum, kolanuts’ imports attract death penalty in Saudi
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has warned intending pilgrims from Nigeria that smuggling of gum and tramadol as well as kolanut and bitter cola still attract death penalty in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Ogun state NDLEA Commander, Alhaji Ishaku Yusuf, gave the warning at a seminar organised by the Ogun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board (OGSMPWB) held at the Valley View Auditorium, Government House, Abeokuta.
Yusuf said illicit drugs trafficking attract death penalty in Saudi Arabia and must be avoided by all means. The commander, who was represented by Muazu Aliyu Dan-Musa, also cautioned pilgrims against carrying other improvised hard drugs, including gum and tramadol as well as kolanut and bitter cola. He urged them to be extra vigilant at the airport and refrain from carrying any other person’s luggage as this may put them in avoidable mess.
He said, “I wish to draw the attention of all intending pilgrims to the stiff penalty attached to drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia. Anyone caught, faces a death penalty. “As intending pilgrims, it is an offence for anybody to traffic or carry drugs such as marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin and other form of illicit drugs from Nigeria to the Holy Land.” Also speaking, the Wakil of Remoland, Sheikh Musbau Salako, enjoined the intending pilgrims to be disciplined and respect the law.
He admonished them to be moderate in both hand and main luggage, saying their luggage should not be more than 40 kilogrammes. Salako urged the pilgrims to seek for God’s favour and mercy while in Mecca and Medina so as to complement Hajj rites, adding that they should fear God during the exercise.
At the seminar, the Executive Secretary of the board, Alhaji Abdulhakeem Kalejaye, disclosed that July 19 will be the take-off date for the first batch of the state’s pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Kalejaye added that the board will start with the first batch of 315 passengers whose names will be pasted at the notice board.
Nigeria’s pilgrims land in S’Arabia as countdown to Hajj rites begin
- 400 Lagos pilgrims first to reach holy land
The first batch out of 95,000 pilgrims from Nigeria have landed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the countdown to 2019 Hajj rites begins. Checks by New Telegraph showed that over 400 pilgrims from Lagos state are already in the holy land for the Hajj rites.
This year Hajj fall in August and Muslims from across the globe, particularly the first batch of pilgrims from Lagos, have already begun to arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of the holy period. Hajj 2019 is expected to start on Friday, August 9 and end on Wednesday, August 14.
The Lagos State Government had earlier announced the departure date for the first batch of pilgrims from the state. Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, who made the disclosure while inaugurating an 11-Man Committee for this year’s Hajj at Alausa, Ikeja, said the first batch of pilgrims would leave on July 10. He also said that 2,234 pilgrims from the state would be participating in the 2019 Hajj to Saudi Arabia. HAJJ is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca made by hundreds of thousands of Muslims every year.
This is when Hajj 2019 starts and ends. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to is expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Once a year hundreds of thousands of Muslims make the journey to Saudi Arabia, to the holiest city in the world, according to Islamic faith – Mecca. The Islamic calendar is lunarbased so while Hajj is always in the 12th month of the Muslim calendar, its dates change every year.
The 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar is called Dhul-Hijjah, and Hajj takes place between the eighth and 13th days of the month. Last year more than two million Muslims arrived in Mecca for Hajj. During Hajj Mecca becomes one of the most densely-populated locations on earth as hundreds of thousands come together there to observe religious rituals. The ritual of Hajj unites Muslims of all nationalities, ethnic groups and backgrounds to stand and worship together in the eyes of God.
The pilgrims are given special garments to wear which are meant to make them appear as equals, despite wealth and status. During Hajj, Muslims come together in front of Kaaba – Islam’s most important mosque. Two million went to Mecca for Hajj last year. According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba – a black silk-clad stone structure at the heart of the Grand Mosque in Mecca – was built by the Prophet Abraham in biblical times. Around two million Muslims took part in Hajj last year.
The five-day holy pilgrimage disallows sex, smoking, swearing and disagreements are among the things banned during the Hajj. Hajj is a huge strategic operation due to the vast number of people who participate.
‘Why Umrah visa holders are temporarily barred from entering Mecca’
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has given the reason for slamming a temporary ban on pilgrims with Umrah visas from entering the country. The kingdom had earlier announced Tuesday, July 2, as the last day of entry into the Kingdom for pilgrims who have already been issued with Umrah visas.
In a circular, the ministry informed Umrah service providers that the electronic issuance of Umrah visas was stopped on Monday, June 17, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. It, however, said pilgrims who were issued visas before June 17 would be allowed to enter into the Kingdom until July 2.
The ministry asked the service providers to make sure that all Umrah pilgrims left Saudi Arabia for their respective homes. It warned that severe punishments would be applied on Umrah visa overstayers.
More than seven million foreign pilgrims performed Umrah since the season started in late October, 2018. The largest number of the Umrah pilgrims came from Pakistan followed by Indonesia and India. A record number of 7,650,736 Umrah visas were issued this year. Out of them, 7,393,657 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom, according to data provided by the ministry. Most pilgrims — 6,550,520 — came to the Kingdom by air, while 707,955 entered by land and 135,182 arrived by sea.
The largest number of pilgrims are from Pakistan (1,657,777) followed by Indonesia (967,125), India (650,480), Egypt (539,045), Algeria (365,628), Yemen (338,618), Turkey (321,494), Malaysia (278,674), Iraq (277,571) and Jordan (216,165). The Chief Executive Officer of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Bin Badi, said the ministry would resume receiving applications for Umrah visas from Dhul Hijja 15 (August 16). He said Umrah visas would be issued in five days and would be for a period not exceeding one month.
The ministry expects the number of Umrah pilgrims to cross the 30 million mark by the year 2030. Developing Hajj and Umrah services is among the top priorities of the Saudi government. Saudi Vision 2030 targets to give an outstanding experience to the pilgrims by providing them with excellent services. Hajj Minister, Mohammed Saleh Benten, said the ministry would like to see Umrah companies elevate the sector to unprecedented levels by raising the quality of the services offered, especially in housing, transport and visits to historical sites.
2019 Hajj: 2,234 Lagos pilgrims to begin airlifting July 10
Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has tasked 2,234 pilgrims from the state who will be performing the 2019 hajj exercise to sustain the culture of excellence and discipline which the state is known for during this year hajj exercise.
This was even as the state’s Amirul- Hajj, Dr AbdulLateef AbdulHakeem said that Lagos will commence airlifting of its pilgrims by July, saying that every necessary arrangement to organise a hitch-free hajj exercise had been put in place. Speaking at a seminar organised to sensitise the intending pilgrims Governor Sanwo-Olu said that the state pilgrim board had carved a niche for itself among the committees of pilgrims boards in the country, urging the pilgrims to remember that the pilgrimage to Mecca and and Medina was spiritual one and a fifth pillar of Islam that requires good conduct. Governor Sanwo-Olu, who spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji, also expressed confidence that this year hajj would be better than the previous years.
He assured that every necessary arrangement would be made to ensure that Lagos pilgrims experience a hitchfree exercise in the 2019 hajj. Sanwo-Olu said: “I want to assure you that the Lagos State government will continue to provide the necessary assistance to the board with view to ensuring the hitch-free and successful pilgrimage.
I have no doubt in my mind that this year’s pilgrimage will be better than last year as we have chosen our Amirul-hajj, Dr Abdul Hakeem AbdulLateef, under whose leadership as the immediate past commissioner for Home Affairs, Lagos State recorded outstanding feats with several awards to show for it.”
Urging the intending pilgrims to eschew all what is forbidden by the Saudi Arabia authorities, Sanwo-Olu said: “I implore you all to obey the rules and regulations of the board, take caution respect the state representative, obey instructions be orderly and avoid negative tendencies capable of tarnishing the good image of the state and the nation.” Also speaking, the state Amirul-Hajj, Dr Abdulateef said would sustain the tempo of excellence hajj operation in the 2019, saying that Governor Sanwo- Olu had approved everything necessary to ensure the pilgrims is given top priority.
Dr Abdulateef, who said beyond refund of money to the pilgrims, N141,000, Governor Sanwo-Olu had also given the board the mandate to ensure the security and welfare of the citizen whether at home or abroad is prioritised at all times. “The governor is interested in the happiness of the pilgrims that is why is giving every necessary support,” he added.
At the seminar, Lagos State bagged the 2018 most organised and disciplined Nigerian contingents award by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria after winning 7 of the 8 awards in 2016. According to him, the award presented to the State by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria as the best organised was a clear indication that the state has the culture of representing the state and in deed Nigeria well abroad. Dr AbdulLateef, who commended the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria for reducing the 2019 cost of hajj fees, advised the intending pilgrims to proceed to the Holy pilgrimage by remembering Nigeria in prayers and ensure they intensify their level of peity.
Sheik Aduralongba turbaned as first Mufti of Bode Olude
- Cleric tasks Muslims on patience, unity
Chief Imam of Bode Olude Muslim Community, Sheikh Mohammed Thanni Abolade Somide, has tasked Muslims on unity as the Chief Missionary of Young Muslim Brothers and Sisters (YOUMBAS) in Ogun state and Republic of Benin, As-Sheikh Najeemdeen Adesina Yusuf Aduralongba, was turbaned as the first Mufti of Bode Olude, Abeokuta, Odeda local government area of Ogun state.
Somide said this at the turbarning ceremony graced by many important personalities including the Baale of Bode Olude as well as the ex-Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mosimi depot branch, Alhaji Surajudeen Adebisi Bada.
New Telegraph reports that about 36 Muslim clerics and leaders were also honoured with different titles.
Imam Somide tasked all the newly turned chiefs to promote unity of purpose among the Ummah.
“The promotion of peace and unity among men should be the pre-occupation of all of us as Muslims,” he said at the event.
Alhaji Bada, who doubles as the Baba Adinni of the Bode Olude community tasked the newly turbaned Mufti and all beneficiaries of the Islamic titles to work hard for the progress of Islam in the community and beyond.
In his acceptance speech, Sheikh Aduralongba promised to do his best for the promotion of Islam and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (SAW).
Meanwhile, an Islamic scholar, Prof. Taofeeq Abdulazeez, has tasked Muslims on how to achieve greatness.
The Don who also spoke on “Greatness was our past: When shall we regain it?” at a two-day National Seminar organised by the Organization of Tadhamunul Muslimeen (OTM) in Abuja, said Muslims must be ready to follow the best exemplary conduct of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to achieve a peaceful society and reclaim the lost glory.
The scholar, who is the Imam of University of Abuja, said Islam achieved greatness in the past because the Muslim Ummah enjoined people to do good deeds and desist from evil acts as highlighted in the Holy Book.
“Islam is so great that Allah says we are the best of nations created for mankind. It is not greatness due to richness but due to value, integrity and creation of peace.
The prophet raised people on the platform of faith and justice. And they became the greatest community in Madina. Because of this, the Jews subjected themselves to the authority of our Prophet, especially the judicial authority,” he also said.
Hajj 2019: N4.709bn slashed as NAHCON reduces Hajj fares
- Preparation for Hajj operations has reached 75 per cent
Over N4.709 billion have been slashed on the fares for 91, 000 pilgrims expected to participate in this year’s pilgrimage to holy land as National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) reduced Hajj fares by N51,754. The 91,000 is the quota allocated for Nigeria by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and checks by New Telegraph showed that the N51,754 reduction on fares will amount to N4,709,614,000 if the quota is fully utilized. Noting that the preparation for operations has reached 75 per cent, the commission added the first batch of Kano pilgrims intending to perform 2019 Hajj are scheduled to depart Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 10th of July 2019.
Executive secretary, Kano state Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Mohammad Abba stated this while briefing journalists on level of preparation for this year’s exercise. Abba explained that the National Hajj Commission has selected Kano contingents for early depar-ture considering the board’s preparation which he said has reached 75 per cent completion.
The board also announced the reduction of N51,754 Hajj fare for the 2019 exercise. The executive secretary posited that the board has since commenced sensitization across the 44 local government areas to keep intending pilgrims abreast with the rudiment of Hajj and diplomatic dues at the holy. He added that inoculation of pilgrims commenced Saturday.
The board announced the reduction of N51,754 hajj fare for the 2019 exercise. Alhaji Abba stressed that in compliance with NAHCON’s direc-tive, the board has instituted five members committee to refund N51,754 to pilgrims who have already completed the earlier announced fare of N1,535,754. He said the hajj commission has equally extended registration of intending pilgrims to 10th July 2019, adding that interested persons have the privilege to make payment against the earlier deadline.
NAHCON recently announced the downward reviewed of hajj fare 620 Saudi Riyals, which is equivalent to 165 US Dollars, therefore directed all States Pilgrims Welfare Boards, the FCT, and the Armed Forces to immediately announce the review and commence refunds to pilgrims who have completed their fares before the review. The downward review, according to NAHCON was due to re-classification of land transportation routes and reduction of the rates on the portal of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on transportation routes, scheduled for Nigeria pilgrims for 2019 exercise.
Hajj 2019: Board slams N162, 000 charges on returnee pilgrims
…as more states adopt N1.5m fares for pilgrims
Pilgrims who have performed Hajj in the last four years are to pay additional charges of 2,000 Saudi Riyals, the equivalent of over N162, 000. The Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards of Kaduna State and the Federal Capital Territory, which declared this, announced N1.5million as the 2019 Hajj fare for intending pilgrims in the state. This came as preparations for the 2019 Hajj hit top gear.
The boards’ Public Relations Officers, Malam Yunusa Abdullahi, and Muhammad Lawal disclosed this in statements in Kaduna and Abuja respectively. The statements revealed that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria had approved N1, 549,297.09 as the 2019 Hajj fare for intending pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The intending pilgrims would also get a flat Basic Travel Allowance of $800.00. Kaduna State’s Abdullahi said that the state overseer of the board, Imam Hussaini Ikara, explained that the fare was arrived at after computation of all hajj components, including accommodation in Makkah and Madinah respectively.
“No provision was made for minimum and or maximum BTA as practised in the past. ‘’People who have performed hajj in the last four years are to pay additional charges of 2,000 Saudi Riyals, the equivalent of over N162, 000. However, Ikara urged the intending pilgrims to hasten their payments as the process of acquiring visa had since commenced and the need to pay the balance of the fare to NAHCON on schedule. Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has appointed the immediate past Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef as the Amirul Hajj and leader of the state’s delegation to this year’s Hajj.
The former commissioner will oversee the 2019 Hajj and address the operational problem(s) that may arise during the pilgrimage. His appointment letter, signed by the Head of Service of Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, reads: “In approving your appointment, due cognisance has been taken of your track record. I, therefore, have no doubt that you will bring your wealth of experience to bear on the coordination of the 2019 hajj and that you would justify the confidence reposed in you by His Excellency, the Governor.” The Islamic cleric cum politician, won the 2018 Lagos Man of the Year (LASMAYA) Award, by polling 41,415 votes of the 53,893 valid votes cast. AbdulLateef, a Doctor of Law, has been in charge of Hajj operations for some years now.
Under him, the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board (LSMPWB) was rated the 2016 Hajj Exercise Best Performing State after winning seven awards in different categories. The awards were in the areas of provision of accommodation; feeding of pilgrims; organisation of education and enlightenment programmes; coordination of pilgrims; E-tracking; Transportation system and the Best Performing Hajj Operator in Nigeria.
2019 Hajj: Saudi takes over luggage transport for 95,000 Nigerian pilgrims
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken over transportation of pilgrims luggage from the airport to hotels for 95,000 intending pilgrims from Nigeria. The move, which affects pilgrims from other parts of the World is to end the pilgrims’ long wait for luggage at King AbdulAziz Intwrnational Airport, Jeddah. The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, which revealed this, added that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the General Authority of Customs to implement the initiative of transporting the pilgrims’ luggage from the Hajj and Umrah terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to their homes.
“This is aimed to reduce waiting time and facilitate the procedures of pilgrims upon arrival at the airport,” the ministry said. It added that the move is also aimed to enhance the safety of pilgrims in general efforts to improve the quality of services provided to pilgrims. Meanwhile, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has insisted that the discontinuation of dollar concession by President Muhammadu Buhari had saved the nation of over N75 billion.
The Head, Public Affairs Division, Fatima Usara, gad earlier declared this at a media parley on the organisation’s stewardship in Abuja, but the commission added at the weekend that the abolition of hajj sponsorship by the Federal Government had also enabled the country save N1.6 billion yearly since 2015. In 2017, NAHCON, with the support of the central administration, introduced direct accommodation negations with hotel owners in Medina and Makkah, thereby eliminating agents and saving over $14 million. In 2018, N229 million was, according to the commission, also saved through querying of local fees imposed on pilgrims by the various state pilgrims welfare boards, agencies and commissions. As part of efforts to contain fraud in the payment of Hadaya (Ram Sacrifice), Jaiz Bank and the Islamic Development Bank had beeb assigned for the job, NAHCON said.
NAHCON has also called on authorities to upgrade facilities across the international airports in the country. Chairman of the Commission, Abdullah i Mukhtar Muhammad who spoke when he paid courtesy call on the management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN), in Abuja remarked that the call was aimed at reducing the challenges encountered by pilgrims during hajj operations, urging the body to consider creating temporary areas for medical emergency services at the airports for medical exigencies. Statement issued by Fatima Usara, the agency’s spokesperson, emphasised on adequate security and provision of clean conveniences at airport departure areas. Abdullah while seeking collaboration with FAAN on pilgrims’ enlightenment, particularly on areas of protocol and airport formalities, said such synergy is pertinent for first time international travelers.
NASFAT underscores peaceful co-existence
…says Allah detests bickering among faithful
The Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society (NASFAT) has underscored peaceful co-existence among adherents of Islam, Christianity and other religions in Nigeria. Tbe group also urged Muslim faithful to remain steadfast and continue with the virtues they have imbibed during the holy month of Ramadan. Chief missionary, Kad7na state branch of NASFAT, Ustaz Mohomned Raji, who said this, added that “the punishment of God awaits whoever derails from the guidelines and conditions of the Almighty God on how we are to be custodian of ourselves.”
His view was corroborated by the Chairman of the state branch of the society, Alhaji Muhydeen Yusuf. Islam, Yusuf added, does not only encourage doing good during the month of Ramadan alone, it also encourages us to accept with cordiality the tenets of Islam and always be good at all times. Addressing newsmen during the end of NASFAT’s Tafsir (Qu’ran recitation) in Kaduna, Yusuf said: “What is the benefit of the good work you have done during Ramadan, if after Ramadan you use your legs to kick them away? We must remain steadfast in our religion, to be very prayerful and be patient in all our endeavours, so that we can get the reward from God.
“It is important that whichever virtue we have embedded, we continue in that spirit beyond the period of Ramadan.” The essence of Ramadan is, according to him, to instil in us discipline and charity. “It is not expected of us to stop all these good deeds after Ramadan. I will implore our brothers and sisters to continue with these virtues,” he said.
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