A Hajj seminar was held over the weekend by the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj specific voluntary organisation where religious scholars, senior doctors and safety experts provided up to date practical advice and training to prospective Hajj pilgrims to enable them to perform Hajj in a safe and best possible manner.
Every year, over 25,000 British Hajj Pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. A substantial number of these Hajj pilgrims suffer hardship and difficulties due to ignorance, lack of awareness of pre-travel Health & Safety precautions and understanding of the need of good preparation of the journey.
Members of Parliament Steve McCabe and John Hemming during their address to the prospective pilgrims acknowledged and complimented the work that the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK has been doing since 1998 in the UK for the welfare and wellbeing of British Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. Maqsood Ahmed (Senior Advisor for the Dept. for Communities & Local Government) extended his best wishes to the pilgrims. They also assured their help and support towards the efforts which are being made to protect the British Hajj and Umrah pilgrims from hardship and difficulties.
Dr Rashid Bhatti and Dr Syed Raza Hussain, senior doctors from ABH warned the prospective pilgrims that they should safeguard against the additional risks to their health due to the over crowding at the ceremonies, accommodation sites and public transport. Dr Rashid Bhatti warned that some barbers around the Holy places pose a risk of spreading blood-borne diseases, such as Hepatitis by using the same razors repeatedly. Pilgrims who suffer from diabetes are specifically reminded about the high risk of hypoglycaemia due to the extremely excessive physical activities being undertaken in hot weather and difficult conditions. Pilgrims need to protect themselves from the sun, dehydration, exhaustion, foot problems, respiratory and bronchial illness. Dr Syed Raza Hussain also advised pilgrims about meningitis which is a life threatening disease and he stated that it is vital for all Hajj pilgrims to get ‘quadrivalent meningococcal’ vaccine (ACWY vac) before they leave for their journey.
Khalid Pervez (General Secretary of ABH) strongly urged the prospective British Hajj pilgrims that they must take health and safety issues seriously and be aware of every aspect of performing Hajj in comfort and ease. In case of any difficulties they should contact the British Hajj Delegation in Makkah. He also expressed his grave concern about the growing culture of complete disregard to the sanctity of the House of Allah. Pilgrims are busy with their cameras and chatting over the mobile phones even during Tawaf-e-Ka’bah. The most alarming thing is that musical tones from mobile phones are heard frequently from the vicinity of the Ka’bah. This nuisance is causing great discomfort and disturbance to other pilgrims and has taken away the peace and serenity of the holy place and the essence of the pilgrimage.
Vir Ahluwalia (Senior Officer, Trading Standards) said that all Hajj and Umrah tour and travel operators are bound by the rules set out by the Package Travel & Tour Legislation. He assured the pilgrims that they will make every effort to protect them from the malpractices and illegal activities of the unscrupulous tour and travel operators. He also urged pilgrims that if they have any complaints then they must come forward and contact their local Trading Standards Department.
Religious scholars Muhammad Sarfraz Madni, Siraj-ul-Haque and Aftab Parwaz also enlightened the pilgrims about they importance of performing Hajj and gave training on how to perform all the rituals of Hajj and Umrah.