Guest Author - Linda Heywood
The cost of attending the annual pilgrimage, Hajj is overpriced.
All Muslim rulers have respected the Al-Sheibi family for being the custodian of the Holy Kaaba and its key. They are responsible for the maintenance of the Kabba and the protection and care of the pilgrims who attend the annual Hajj. They are not meant to be making a profit from Hajj.
The cost of Hajj this year has increased yet again even though the Government of Saudi Arabia, the airlines and the travel agents insist they keep their prices ‘reasonable’.
The Quran states that there are ‘months’ for the pilgrims to make this annual pilgrimage so why do the Saudi Arabian Government insist on cramming millions of people into a small area for only one month of the year?
God tells us to make this annual pilgrimage at least once in our lifetimes if we can afford it. The Saudi Arabian Government and everyone else involved are making it impossible for some of the world’s poorest Muslims to ever attend this communal act of worship.
Hajj has become a privilege for the rich person. The Saudi Arabian Government are all Muslims. They know it is an obligation on every Muslim to attend Hajj at least once in their lifetime, if they are well enough to do so and can afford to do so without leaving their family in debt. But everyone insists on raising the prices every year. Most of the inexpensive hotels that accommodated the pilgrims have been removed and overpriced hotels have been erected in place.
The travel companies are as much to blame too for raising the price. They are unregulated and charge whatever they think they can get away with. Some of these travel agents are Muslims too and know they are exploiting the pilgrims but chose to continue along this route. The number of pilgrims attending Hajj each year can reach nearly three million. It is reasonable to expect costs to rise. So many people attend Hajj each year. To exclude a large number of pilgrims simply because the price of stepping onto Saudi Arabian soil is too high is unfair.
Three years ago when I applied to make my pilgrimage I was told I could not travel to Saudi Arabia to attend Hajj alone, meaning I had to have a male chaperone. I have no one who can take me as I am not from a Muslim family. I do not wish to travel to Saudi Arabia with a strange male companion just because the Government insist as a woman I cannot travel alone.
I have travelled the world alone but it baffles me how a bunch of men in a government can stop me from making the most important journey of my faith simply because they believe that as a woman I am incapable of doing this alone. I will not be alone, I will be with God.