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Easing The Congestion After Haj: Solving Problem That Occurs Every 12th Dul Hijjah

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

An extremely difficult problem of congestion occurs every year on 12th Dul Hijjah, when most of the rituals have been completed and the pilgrims are eager to finish and return home. Pilgrims move in different directions, which cause confusion and many points traffic blockage. Yet the problem can be greatly reduced with elaborate organization. There is also a need to look into the rulings of different schools of thought to choose what is both solidly based and easier for the pilgrims.

What happens on that day is that the minimum requirement of stoning the Jamrat and staying in Mina has been completed and the pilgrims can go back to Makkah to do their outstanding tawaf (circumambulation) and leave. However, it is even better to stay another day in Mina and do another round of stoning on the following day before departure to Makkah. Moreover, haste is made essential because the pilgrims are told they have to leave before sunset.

All pilgrims whose departure from Makkah is free of time constraints want to proceed to Makkah where they have to do their tawaf of farewell and leave. Those of them who have not performed the tawaf of ifadah want to do this tawaf. These may also have to do the sa’ie if they have not done it earlier. This applies in the first place to pilgrims from Saudi Arabia, who wish to return to their cities and towns as soon as possible. It also applies to pilgrims from overseas, particularly from the member states of the GCC, who have made arrangements for early departure. The two groups are estimated to be around one million pilgrims every year.

Yet the problem is much more complicated because all other pilgrims are advised to depart from Mina so that they have time to complete their tawaf of ifadah if they had not done it since, according to some schools of thought, its time range expires the following day. Therefore, about 95 percent of the three million pilgrims want to leave Mina in the few hours between midday and sunset. Considering the limited road space available and the fact that the distance is short, the congestion is very severe. Pilgrims often spend several hours in their buses which are not moving.

It seems that one way to drastically reduce congestion and traffic blockages is to organize the departure from Mina on the basis of certain priorities. This should allow all pilgrims from Saudi Arabia and the GCC, as well as other pilgrims with confirmed early return journeys, to leave Mina on 12th Dul Hijjah. All pilgrims who travel later should be required to stay in Mina one additional day. This means that one third of the pilgrims will have finished their pilgrimage and set on their way back to their towns and cities before the other two thirds begin their departure from Mina. The movement of this second group will not be rushed, as there is no stipulated requirement to leave Mina before sunset on that day. Careful organization will ensure that their movement proceeds much more smoothly.

Such organization should be coupled with better education for the pilgrims and their guides to reassure them that they will finish their rituals and their pilgrimage on time.



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