Lets us pray for the safety of all Hajis (Pilgrims). Over the years there have been several incidents during Hajj claiming hundreds of lives. This year the Saudi government has made elaborate arrangements to ensure the safe and successful completion of Haj. Some of the safety measures implemented this year in conjunction with the world health organization are:
- Prevention of heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Hospital beds have been increased to treat people affected by the extreme heat. Water and fans are being provided by the ministry of health where pilgrims are going to be gathered.
- Training of several teams to provide rapid response to health emergencies such as the respiratory disease MERS-CoV.
- Implementation of infection prevention measures.
- Tracing and limiting contact of infected persons to contain further infection.
- “Together for a healthy pilgrimage” campaign launched focused on preventing heat stroke, dehydration and food poisoning.
- Checkpoints set up at all sea, land and air entry points to check pilgrims vaccinated against influenza, polio meningitis and yellow fever.
- To increase security, over 1000 surveillance cameras have been installed within the premises of Mecca’s grand mosque.
- Electronic identification bracelets issued to all pilgrims which monitor their movements and provide medical and personal information in case of emergencies.
- The electronic bracelets are also equipped with GPS and a multilingual service to help pilgrims navigate through the rituals of Hajj and to help non-Arabic speakers function in Saudi Arabia during their stay.
The above measures have been put in place partly due to the stampede in the last Hajj which killed several hundred pilgrims. Let us pray together for Allah to accept the Hajj of the pilgrims who undertake all the hardships of Hajj with such fortitude. We also hope and pray for their safe and successful return as “Hajis” to their homelands.
Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the Kaba, the house of Allah, sees millions of people converge on the holy city of Mecca. Undergoing the Hajj rituals is the fifth pillar of Islam, and is incumbent on all able-bodied Muslims who are able to do so financially, at least once in their lifetime. This annual pilgrimage is based on the actions of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) in his last pilgrimage before his death. The Hajj ritual is completed in six days, but most people stay longer.
Lets us all hope and pray that we too can perform this journey to Hajj. Aameen