Over 1500 Ugandans to attend Hajj pilgrimage this year

Uganda Muslim Supreme Council heads sent off 95 pilgrims for 2024 at Old Kampala. They are expected to leave on June 1, 2024. PHOTO/SHABIBAH NAKIRIGYA

What you need to know:

  • The Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Ramadan Shaban Mubajje urged private Hajj companies to ensure that those pilgrims who have fully paid and met the requirements for the journey are assisted in fulfilling their Hajj obligations.

Over 1500 Ugandans are expected to attend this year’s hajji, the fifth pillar of Islam to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to the media in Kampala on May 30, the Secretary General for the Federation of Hajji Bureau in Uganda Zakaria Kiwalyanga said that 1500 people have confirmed to participate in this year’s Hajj and the first bunch is expected to leave on Saturday evening, June 1 .

“54 private Hajji Companies are in charge of taking people for pilgrimages and all pilgrims  are expected to spend 21 days in Mecca performing different Muslim ritual activities,” he said. 

He also noted that this year’s hajji preparations started early in January after Saudi Arabia issued changes in guidelines for pilgrims. This was done for proper arrangement because the country was expecting more numbers than last year.

“Here in Uganda the number of pilgrims has increased from 1300 to 1500 and this means that  it’s the same across the country. This year pilgrims were supposed to pay between Shs19,099,210 ( 5000$) to Shs38,198,420(10000$),” he said. 

He also revealed that for the purpose of monitoring pilgrims, Saudi Arabia introduced electronic monitoring and all visitors will be given electronic bracelets.

“We have been getting  challenges  with pilgrims who get lost  while performing  some activities and we had to use public systems to look for them but this year the hustle is  sorted ,” he said.

Sheikh Kiwalyanga also urged pilgrims to prepare for  hot season since Saudi Arabia is  more of dry land.

The Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Ramadan Shaban Mubajje told Monitor that performing the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and leads a Muslim faithful to attaining divine rewards and blessings.

“UMSC had registered 95 pilgrims, 55 men, and 40 women.  Pilgrims should ensure that they pay all their debts, clear their Zakah (giving to the poor), and better utilised their stay in Makkah in devotion rather than indulgence in worldly affairs,” he said.

He also urged private Hajj companies to ensure that those pilgrims who have fully paid and met the requirements for the journey are assisted in fulfilling their Hajj obligations.

“We warn private companies to support pilgrims by all means, UMSC would take strong actions against companies that cheat clients,” he said

Ms Jeedah Namirembe Nganwa  who is among the  pilgrims from Kyazanga Lwengo district said that  her group is expected to leave on June 5 with Uganda Muslim Supreme Council .

“Fulfilling the fifth pillars of Islam Hajj is a blessing because people have money but they do not have that intention to go perform Hajj. I am grateful to be among the pilgrims who are going this year,” she said.

She added that for years she has been praying to Allah for the days to perform the fifth pillar and finally it has been answered in 2024.

“Though the fees were high but together with my children we have managed to clear all the requirements in time,” she said.

Dr Muzamiru Ssekabira, Director Anwaary travel Agency Hajj and Umrah services, said that this year they taking 40 pilgrims to mecca.

“We are sure that our pilgrims are well instructed in the Hajj rituals, have taken the required immunizations, and are scheduled to travel on June 1 via Ethiopian airlines,” he said.

He explained that the Hajj symbolises the bond between Almighty Allah and man and the unity of Muslim believers globally.

"It is not a mere trip but rather a spiritual awakening," he added.

New guidelines

Since the outbreak of covid- 19 pandemic, Saudi kingdom has been struggling to streamline the hajji activities to make sure that all pilgrims are safe with their properties. 

The Saudi Arabian Kingdom has also issued instructions on cash money carried by pilgrims and valuable items which needs more extra care while performing the rituals.

Pilgrims are advised not to take large amounts of cash and expensive valuables, not exceeding Shs 60,515,696 ($16,000 (SAR 60,000) saying it slows the entry processes.