Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Hajj - Stakeholders Want Saudi to Stop Charging for Accommodation in Mecca

Stakeholders in Nigeria's Hajj activities have asked the Saudi authorities to discontinue with collecting accommodation fees in Mecca because it is against the Islamic law.

Malam Abdulwakeel Ademola Abdulwahab, the Director ITEC consultancy service, made the comment while presenting his paper at the 4th National, State, Local Governments and Hajj Stakeholders conference, which reviewed the 2012 Hajj operation's successes and the challenges of Mahrams.

He said the issue of Mahram during last year's Hajj exercise posed a great challenge, though it was resolved but not without detention, deportation, and re-embarkation journey as experienced by affected women. This, according to Mallam Abdulwakeel, caused a great psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical trauma on them and their families.

He said the issue came with its own side of blessings, in terms of "re-awakening us on Shari'ah's position on the issue of Mahram, which led our scholars to research more on the various Shari'ah aspects of hajj matters," among others.

The Shari'ah, according to him, clearly stated that intending pilgrims should not pay or ask to pay for any accommodation in Mecca during the Hajj. "As Shari'ah prohibited women travelling alone, it also disallows houses in Mecca to be owned, or rented out to pilgrims, in fact, there is a Hadith that says, 'Whoever charges rents for the houses in Mecca, consumes fire.'"

He said, "it is our belief" that Saudi authorities will do something on what he called "illegal or non-Shari'a house renting in Mecca because they are very good in Shari'ah application, implementation and compliance."

He called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria to remind Saudi authorities about this part of Shari'ah rule "and let us know their Shari'ah justification for the huge amount we pay annually on house rents in Mecca."

Other issues discussed include the possible introduction of SIM registration for all pilgrims as it is now compulsory for all Umrah pilgrims to register their SIM cards, Mahram and early preparations.

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