Ef­forts made to in­crease num­ber of hajj pil­grims

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By CUI JIA cui­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As Mus­lims around China cel­e­brated Eid al-Fitr on Wed­nes­day mark­ing the end of Ra­madan, the coun­try is mak­ing ef­forts to take 1,000 more Mus­lims to the Saudi Ara­bian city ofMecca this year to par­tic­i­pate in the holy pil­grim­age.

The num­ber of Chi­nese pil­grims al­lowed into the holi­est city of Is­lam has re­mained un­changed for years.

In 2015, 14,500 Chi­nese pil­grims from 27 prov­inces and re­gions went to Mecca for the hajj, which falls in Septem­ber this year.

“We have ap­plied to the Saudi gov­ern­ment for per­mis­sion to take 1,000 ad­di­tional pil­grims to Mecca. That ap­pli­ca­tion is still be­ing pro­cessed,” said Ma Xi­ubang, the China Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tion’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive is­sues.

To make the pil­grim­age a re­li­gious duty Chi­nese Mus­lims must reg­is­ter at the web­site of their lo­cal re­li­gious af­fairs bureau. The an­nual quota of pil­grims from each prov­ince and re­gion de­pends on the size of it­sMus­lim pop­u­la­tion.

Ma said the as­so­ci­a­tion will ar­range an ad­di­tional char­ter flight to take more Mus­lims from the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion this year to re­duce the long wait­ing time to make the hajj — of­ten five to 10 years, and­some­times longer.

Xin­jiang is home to 51 per­cent of China’s Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Zhang Chunx­ian, Xin­jiang’s top leader, said the an­nual pil­grim­age should be treated as an im­por­tant part of peo­ple’s lives.

Chi­nese pil­grims will wear elec­tric wrist­bands so their for hajj-re­lated lo­ca­tion can be tracked and they can be alerted of pos­si­ble dan­gers.

In 2015, a stam­pede oc­curred in­Mecca as pil­grims per­formed one of the hajj rit­u­als. Saudi of­fi­cials said the ac­ci­dent left 769 dead and 934 in­jured.

Ear­lier, in Septem­ber, 111 pil­grims were killed and 331 oth­ers in­jured when heavy wind tipped over a crane out­side the GrandMosque.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Eid al-Fitr prayers were said in mosques around China fol­lowed by a feast. The prayers at Doudian Mosque, in Bei­jing’s Fang­shan district, were crowded with peo­ple from near and far.

“Mus­lims can take the day off on Eid al-Fitr, so I was able to come to Doudian Mosque for the prayers,” said Ma Fu, 28, an IT worker in Bei­jing.

In heav­ily Mus­lim-pop­u­lated au­ton­o­mous re­gions, like Xin­jiang and the Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion, Eid al-Fitr is a pub­lic hol­i­day. Xin­jiang res­i­dents have the day off, and in Ningxia there is a three-day hol­i­day.

As Bei­jing has be­come more in­ter­na­tion­al­ized, Doudian Mosque has seen an in­creas­ing num­ber of for­eign Mus­lims at­tend­ing its re­li­gious ser­vices.

Abudulka­deer and Milun from Al­ge­ria were pass­ing their first Eid al-Fitr in Bei­jing, af­ter work­ing near Doudian Mosque for three months. “The mosque and or­ga­ni­za­tion are re­ally good,” Milun said.

They snapped pho­tos of the prayer hall and the Chi­nese style feast with the mo­bile phones to later share the mo­ment with their fam­i­lies back home.

Hu Anqi con­trib­uted to this story

Check out an video re­lated to this ar­ti­cle.

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