Create a permanent Hajj Secretariat – Government urged

BY: Samuel K. Obour

A Research Fellow of the Ghana Muslim Academy (GMA), Alhaji Adam Yunus, has called for a permanent Hajj Secretariat with decentralised offices in the regions to help manage Hajj affairs in the country.

“Until there is a permanent structure to take care of the affairs of Hajj, we will continue to have problems organising the pilgrimage,” he said.

Alhaji Yunus was speaking on the theme, “Hajj and Organisational Complexities in Ghana” at the 15th Ramadan Lectures organised by the GMA in Accra.

“Organisation the of Hajj can be used as a tool for development just as many countries have done, including Saudi Arabia, as she benefits so much economically from Hajj operations,” he contended.

He said the secretariat when established would for instance serve as an avenue for Muslims who intend to go on the Hajj, to pay the fare anytime ahead of the pilgrimage.

The Hajj is a Pilgrimage to Mecca in Islam. It is the fifth of the Five Pillars of Islam. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime.

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In spite of the physical hardships for some, pilgrims who complete the Hajj consider it one of the greatest spiritual experiences of their lives.

Many Muslims also regard the Hajj as one of the great achievements of civilisation, because it brings together people from around the world and focuses them upon a single goal: completing the Hajj.

Alhaji Yunus said, the complexities surrounding Hajj operations in Ghana were threatening than they appeared, adding that for the non-Muslims, “it was sometimes an embarrassment, especially when they do not understand why we cannot manage simple travel exercises.”

He noted that the problem with Hajj was simply that of selfish interest against the general interest of the Muslim society, extreme greed, and a display of dishonesty at its worse level by some “mafias”.

Alhaji Yunus, therefore, called on government to desist from rewarding people with Hajj management chairmanship as a political favour saying, “do that only after consultation with the Muslims.”

He urged the government to play a strong facilitating role rather than privatising Hajj operations as it did not serve the interest of the Muslim community.

Alhaji Yunus also called for a blue print of a Hajj policy, so that any individual or organisation charged with the mandate would only implement the policies.

Furthermore, he said, Hajj must be organised and owned by Muslims as well as employ the services of Muslims who were honest and tested and with minimal government support and facilitation.

Alhaji Yunus added that the role of agents who were involved in the Hajj process, should strongly be streamlined and minimised, saying “we should have a system that will not put the entire faith of the pilgrim in the hands of agents.”

By Zainabu Issah/Daily Graphic/Ghana