THE National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has called on Islamic clerics to assist the commission in educating those intending to be part of the 2018 hajj on new Saudi Arabia policies on pilgrimage.
The Executive Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad, made the call during a town hall meeting for intending pilgrims and ulama (clerics) organised by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board (FMPWB), in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Saudi authorities had introduced some new policies for hajj.
They include Value Added Tax (VAT), biometric data capture of pilgrims and 2,000 Saudi Riyals charges for hajj and umrah second timers.
Muhammad said the essence of the meeting was to involve all imams, who were critical stakeholders in hajj affairs, in the enlightenment and sensitisation of intending pilgrims.
He said clerics were closer to the intending pilgrims because they lead Muslims in both Juma’ah and the five daily prayers.
“So, we feel and believe that carrying you along, explaining certain things to you will help us to convey the message down the ladder to the pilgrims.
“Human beings have a particular behaviour: the person you know, who teaches you moral values and teaches you who your God is and how to worship him, you are bound to accept what comes from him more than any government officials.
“That is why the commission decided that this kind of engagement with the ulama, Juma’at imams will continue to take place in all states in the country and at the zonal level of the federation.
“We will make sure we involve as many imams as possible so that they can help us convey the message down to the pilgrims,” the NAHCON chairman said.
He said based on Saudi Arabia’s new policy, all pilgrims must undergo biometric data capturing before they could be issued Saudi visa.
He said pilgrims would be charged five percent VAT for all their transactions while in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which underscores the need for enlightenment of intending pilgrims.
The chairman of the FCT Council of Imams, Dr Tajudeen Adigun, advised NAHCON to explore the possibility of creating more centres for biometric data capture of intending pilgrims.
He said the 10 centres created could not be enough to accommodate a larger number of intending pilgrims in Nigeria.
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