Hajj an opportunity to explore Islam’s origin for Western Muslims: IINA Report

Makkah (IINA) – The Hajj season represents a valuable opportunity for Muslim minorities in Europe and the Americas to explore Islam’s origin, in particular for those who have recently converted to Islam.

As of Saturday, more than 150,000 pilgrims from 40 countries in Europe, South America, and North America arrived in Makkah to perform Hajj and Umrah. Approximately 50 percent of them hails from four countries: Britain with 25,500 pilgrims, Russia with 20,500 pilgrims, the United States with 17,000 pilgrims, and France with 10,000 pilgrims.

Foreign pilgrims see Hajj as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Islam and to alleviate some of the hardships they face in their countries, especially in light of the vast spread of Islamophobia and extremist misconceptions about Islam.

Grand Mufti of Croatia Aziz Hasanovic told the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) that Muslims of Europe are keen to perform Hajj because they see that the character of a Muslim is complete with performing the Haj rituals, the fifth pillar of Islam.

He added: Therefore, we advise Muslims in Europe to perform Hajj at an early age because it educates them, polishes their personalities, and strengthen their faith.

The Mufti noted that all Muslims dream of performing the pilgrimage, but they are constrained by the possibilities and the availability of financial capacity. Therefore, Hasanovic said, religious organizations in Europe advise Muslims to save money from an early age in order to perform Hajj.

Saudi Hajj institutions are keen to intensify educational programs directed at foreign pilgrims, enabling them to return to their countries with a deeper understanding of Islam and its moderate and peaceful values.

The institutions also coordinate visits for minority pilgrims to historical sites in Makkah and Madinah to introduce them to the cultural aspects of the holy sites.

Saudi Arabia is preparing to accommodate the largest number of pilgrims in its history this year after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman issued a royal decree to increase the number of pilgrims by 800,000, reaching a total of 2.6 million pilgrims.

Source: International Islamic News Agency