Jakarta, IO – All healthy, sane, and capable Muslims must perform the fifth pillar ritual of Islam, i.e., going on a hajj pilgrimage, to heed Allah’s call. The hajj ritual is a physical ritual to express the gratitude of the servant to the Lord– to voluntarily make the sacrifice necessary to reach the Baitullah, the House of the Lord, within a specific time period and performing the specific rituals just to praise Allah.
There is such a great desire of Muslims across the world to perform the hajj ritual, while the pilgrim quota set by the Government of Saudi Arabia is strictly limited. In fact, the waiting list just for Indonesia literally extends for decades. This condition was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the nation to suspend hajj rituals in 2020-2021 to prevent further spread of the contagion.
When opening the “Skin Problems Suffered by Hajj and Umra Pilgrims” hybrid seminar in Yogyakarta last Sunday (14/5/2023), Dean of the Universitas Islam Indonesia Faculty of Medicine Dr. dr. Isnatin Miladiyah, M.Kes., announced that the theme for the hajj pilgrimage in Indonesia in 2023 is “Elder-Friendly Hajj”.
This is a real necessity, as 30% of 201,527 pilgrims, the total hajj quota earmarked for Indonesia, consists of pilgrims 60 years or older. 109,977 Indonesians, or 54.5% of pilgrims going on hajj in 2023 are 60 or above, while the remaining 91,550, or 45.5% of the pilgrims, are younger than 60.
“The hajj ritual was suspended because of the pandemic. In 2022, we reopened our gates for hajj pilgrims, but only under extremely strict health restrictions. For the duration, all countries were only allowed to send out half of their total annual hajj quota, and that was only for people younger than 60.
Pilgrims older than 60 who were not allowed entry in 2022 were then entered in the list of pilgrims for 2023. Elders are a high-risk group, but we all know that even younger people may suffer from health problems that would necessitate special care to be provided for them while they are in the Holy Land.
We expect that the temperature in the Holy Land will reach 47-50 degrees Celsius in the upcoming hajj season, an extremely hot season. Therefore, hajj pilgrims must prepare themselves psychologically as well as physically in order to remain healthy during the ritual, survive and return safely to the Homeland,” Dr. Isnatin said.
Indonesia has the biggest hajj pilgrim quota in the world. When combined with pilgrims from other countries across the world, the total will be about 2.5 million people going to Mecca for hajj. All of them crowd together in a limited area, just to perform their devotions to Allah.