Turkey helps Ghanaian Muslim Realize Hajj Dream

ISTANBUL – A poor-Ghanaian elderly villager who asked a Turkish TV crew if “a drone can take him to Makkah” had his dream fulfilled after his story went viral on social media.

“I am grateful to God and I pray to everyone who helped this dream come true,” Al-Hassan Abdullah told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday, August 18.

The far-fetched dream for the poor villager came true after he met a Turkish film crew flying a drone with a camera in his village in Ghana.

Abdullah naively asked if they had “a bigger one of this that would take him to [Saudi Arabia]” where millions of Muslims go every year for the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

As his story went viral on social media, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu intervened and helped arrange a hajj journey for Abdullah.

He arrived in Istanbul from Accra on Friday and was welcomed by a Turkish charity whose work focuses on Ghana.

Cihad Gökdemir, deputy chairman of the charity, who welcomed Abdullah at the airport, said Abdullah’s story made the headlines after a TRT World employee tweeted the image.

“Then, people started to seek a way to reach out to him, from businesspeople to companies. Finally, a Turkish police officer from Turkish embassy in Ghana contacted him. He is grateful to Turkish people,” Gökdemir said.

For Abdullah, the long awaited dream was finally coming true.

“Turkish state’s assistance is valuable for me and I believe this will help improve friendship, brotherhood between Muslims,” he said.

Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Hajj consists of several rituals, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

Hajj is officially expected to fall this year between August 30 and September 4, with the climax falling on August 31 when the faithful descend the Mount `Arafat.