More than 11,000 Muslims from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions have been airlifted by chartered flights to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. These intending pilgrims began their journey for Makkah, Saudi Arabia from Urumqi, the provincial capital on July 23, Head of Xinjiang Muslim Hajj Group, Aibaidula Saidula told the Global Times on Saturday. Muslims in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region performing hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, hailed the considerate arrangements by Xinjiang government during their overseas trip.
Feng Jinzhong, a pilgrim from Urumqi hailed the Xinjiang government for making arrangements for the overseas trip said that he was excited to visit Makkah and Medina in Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj. “As a Muslim, it was my dream to perform Hajj in Makkah. I used to worry about managing the Hajj pilgrimage since I’ve never gone abroad nor can I speak Arabic,” Feng added.
He noted that all his worries vanished since the government arranged the trip. Like Feng, most of the pilgrims from Xinjiang had never travelled overseas. Many of them live in remote areas in southern Xinjiang and said that without the government’s help, they would have faced language issues and other problems. Staff arranged the pilgrims’ accommodations, including a medical team and other personnel to guide them, Feng said.
“Each of us has a name card with information written in Chinese, English, and Arabic in case we get lost,” Feng said. “Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and an important religious activity requiring overseas travel. Organizing pilgrims to successfully perform hajj shows the Xinjiang government’s commitment to religious freedom and care to religious believers,” Aibaidula said.
Before heading to Saudi Arabia, Xinjiang’s government organized lectures on travelling overseas and training on what to do during Hajj. It also assigned staff to assist the pilgrims before and during the trip, including getting a visa, exchanging money, undergoing a physical examination, booking tickets and getting insurance, Aibaidula said. Muhtatam Xirip, 55, the Imam of the Yanghang Mosque in Urumqi, is one of the religious personnel and translators for the Chinese pilgrims this year.—APP