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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Pilgrimage of the disabled

Haj is mandatory for Muslims who are capable with respect to health, finances and safety, once in a lifetime. Thanks to the excellent arrangements made by the Kingdom, we witness a large number of pilgrims on wheelchairs performing Haj. Even those who come here for Haj and fall sick are facilitated in the performance of their religious rituals. Like every year, hundreds of pilgrims were taken to Arafat on ambulances this year to complete their pilgrimage. These pilgrims had fallen ill or suffered heart attacks, strokes and were unable to go to Arafat in a normal way. Saudi authorities made arrangements to ensure that they complete this important Haj ritual of staying at Arafat by taking them on ambulances.

The Kingdom's excellent arrangements also enabled many physically challenged persons to perform Haj with ease. One hundred physically handicapped persons performed their pilgrimage this year. They were accompanied by another 100 people — their parents or companions — who helped them in performing Haj rituals. This means a total of 200 pilgrims whose wishes were fulfilled by the grace of Allah Almighty.

A number of groups are active in the Kingdom in multifarious charity work, including organizing Haj or Umrah at very low costs and sometimes free.

An organization, Al Ibrahim Charity Foundation, had arranged Haj for these handicapped persons in collaboration with the Association of Physically Handicapped (Harakiya). The support by Fahad bin Khalid Al Ibrahim to this initiative — arranging the pilgrimage of people with special needs — speaks volumes about the feeling of brotherhood shared by prominent families in our country.

In fact, this initiative is not new for Al Ibrahim family. Fahad has learned good deeds from his father Khalid Al Ibrahim and his late grandfather Sheikh Ibrahim.

We are telling this story to motivate others to follow this model and increase brotherhood and solidarity in our society.

I met some of the physically challenged people on their return from pilgrimage and every one of them had a story to tell. But all of them were in agreement that services and facilities were very good and that minute details were taken into consideration to make them perform pilgrimage smoothly in the midst of over two million other pilgrims.

One of them said he had thanked God for this blessing because "I didn't feel during the pilgrimage that I am lacking anything."

It is not surprising to see many people in our country who support the needy and help others to perform pilgrimage, but what has made this experience memorable for these people is that the organizers had truly followed the saying of our Prophet (peace be upon him):

"Gods loves those who when they do any work, they do sincerely and accurately." Therefore, supporting and funding such initiatives is a great thing to do, but what is greater is to carry it out in the best possible way.

This noble gesture by Harakiya and efforts of the association board's chairman Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Almutawa Alotaibi to perform charity activities in the most proper way is really commendable.

Going by this experience, I think more people with special needs should perform Haj every year. I also suggest formation of a body where people with special needs and traffic officials could meet regularly and the disabled people should be informed about the Traffic Department's new campaigns and programs. This will help people with special needs carry out their daily activities with ease and comfort and help them integrate into the society in a better way and become productive members of the society.

Source : Arab News , 12th Oct 2015

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