Posted on May 16th, 2010

Reyyaz Salley

HE the President to appoint Hajj Committee comprising of Chairman and 04 Members ,to oversee and regulate Hajj pilgrimage

Hajj Committee to initially negotiate with Government of Saudi Arabia for a quota of 5,000 pilgrims .

Hajj Committee to select 1,000 pilgrims to perform Hajj for the first time on District Basis through public advertisement.

Sri Lankan Airlines/Mihin Air to handle the transport of the 1,000 pilgrims at regular airfare.

Travel Operators to be graded based on Performance, Capacity and Capability.

Registration Fee and Refundable Deposit of Travel Operators to be revised.

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah in the Arabic language).The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic Prophet Muhammad (SAS) from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Ibrahim (Abraham).

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times about the Ka’bah, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer, kisses the Black Stone in the corner of the Kaaba, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, and throws stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the four day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

A 2008 study on the longer-term effect of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslims’ communities become more open after the Hajj experience. A study conducted in conjunction with Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government entitled ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in IslamƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Global GatheringƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, found that the Hajj experience promotes peaceful coexistence, equality, and harmony.

Specifically, the report states that the Hajj “increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic community and that “Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions”

Government involvement in the Hajj process differs from country to country. While Islamic countries regulate the whole process, other countries assist by way of subsidies etc.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In Indonesia based on Law 17/1999, the Government has a monopoly on the organization of the Hajj to Mecca. The law states that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for providing guidance, service, and protection to citizen Hajj pilgrims during their pilgrimage. The Ministry also determines the costs associated with the Hajj and issues the Hajj passport.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ While in India a Hajj Committee regulates the whole process through authorized Travel agents. Pilgrims applying through the Hajj Committee of India are offered the concessionary fare. The Government of India pays the subsidy to Air India.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Government of Sri Lanka regulates this process through the Department of Muslim Affairs. The involvement is limited to;

  • Negotiating for the quota of pilgrims with the Government of Saudi Arabia
  • Registration of Travel Agents.
  • Allocation of pilgrims to Travel Agents
  • Supervision of the process by officials
  • Sending 02 Medical teams to operate in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 2009 saw approximately two million (2,000,000) pilgrims perform Hajj. The Sri Lankan contingent was numbered at 4,800 pilgrims. Though the official quota from the Saudi Government is only 2,800 pilgrims, we have been able to negotiate 5,300 in 2008 and 5,800 in 2009. In addition to this the Saudi government also issues 150 Free Movement Visas to be used by the officials of the Government and Travel Agents.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There have been many accusations made against the transparency of the whole process, and a more active involvement of the Government in the process would go a long way,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to allay the fears of the community towards this government.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This proposal is being made with a view to streamlining this process and making it more transparent and meaningful and also seeking Government involvement in Muslim Affairs.

  1. Government appoints a Hajj committee to regulate the whole process.
  2. Government involves itself to negotiate a quota of 5,000 pilgrims at the outset itself, though the entitlement as per Saudi Regulations is only 2,800 pilgrims.
  3. Free Movement Visas to be restricted to 01 /travel operator and the balance to be used to enhance the medical and volunteer teams. These persons to be picked by the Hajj Committee on agreed criteria.
  4. The State to handle through the Hajj Committee the performance of Hajj of 1,000 pilgrims.
    1. These pilgrims to be chosen by public advertisement and allocated on a district basis, with priority to those who are performing Hajj for the first time.
    2. A fixed rate of Rs.300, 000/= to be charged from each pilgrim.
    3. These pilgrims to be flown by Sri Lankan Airlines/Mihin Air at regular rates.
    4. Profits accruing from the process to be used to improve the process.
  5. All registered operators to be evaluated and graded in keeping with capability and performance. Pilgrim allocation to be made according to grade and based on those going for the first time. Balance to the auctioned to generate funds to help the needy.
  6. Operator to sign a performance bond spelling out all details of lodging, meals and other facilities being offered with each pilgrim and issue official receipts for all payments to be collected from pilgrims .
  7. Copies of bonds to be produced when applying for Visas.
  8. Each operator should be required to pay a minimum of Rs5, 000/= per pilgrim as Registration Fees. (currently it is only a flat rate Rs.50,000/=)
  9. A refundable deposit of Rs.200, 000/= per pilgrim be collected from each operator. (Current rate Rs.300,000/=/50 pilgrims.)
  10. All pilgrims to be issues special ID cards and recognition tags by each travel operator.
  11. Each group must have minimum of one Moulavi and one Moulavia for every 50 pilgrims, to act as guides throughout the pilgrimage.
  12. Medical missions should leave 02 days ahead of the first batch of pilgrims and return along with the last batch of pilgrims.
  13. A state official and representative of operators to be at the airport at all times to facilitate departure and arrival of pilgrims both in Katunayake and Jeddah. All pilgrims must be provided with meals and refreshment as required.
  14. All Lodging in Mecca and Medina to be within 01km of the Haram in hotels/lodges approved by Hajj committee.
  15. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Each pilgrim should be given a map of the area both in Mecca and Medina, so that pilgrims can locate their whereabouts when lost.
  16. All food served to pilgrims by the operators have to be supervised by the Hajj Committee team.
  17. All places lodging Sri Lankan pilgrims in Mecca, Medina, Arafat, Minna, Musthalifa and Medina should fly the Sri Lankan Flags. All groups should carry enough flags of the same size to facilitate this.
  18. Instructions with regard to luggage must be clearly spelt out. This will eliminate chaos at the terminals in both Mecca and Medina, where the mighty get through at the cost of the meek.
  19. The total process if supervised properly will win the hearts of the pilgrims and bring credit and merit to the motherland.


  1. Rishard Says:

    The Government’s efforts to regulate Haj Pilgrimage from sri lanka should be commended.

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