MADINAH – The National Pilgrim-Guide Foundation in Saudi Arabia announced on July 25 that as many as 207,546 Muslim pilgrims have arrived in Madinah to start Hajj which begins by the mid of next August, Al-Arabiya reported.
“The nationalities of pilgrims now present in Madinah are 42,028 Indonesians, 47,671 Indians, 28,192 Pakistanis, 27,808 Turks, and finally 12,604 Afghans,” the announcement of the Madinah-based agency read.
According to the foundation, the vacancy in Madinah has now reached 49%. There has been a substantial increase in the number of Hajj pilgrims during the last 92 years.
The number of foreign pilgrims has increased by approximately 2,824%, from just 58,584 in 1920 to 1,712,962 in 2012.
According to the official estimates, around two million Muslim pilgrims will perform Hajj this year.
Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, the holiest city in Islam. It’s one of the Five Pillars of the Islamic faith.
It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey and can support their family during their absence.
Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God. In Arabic, the word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Hijri Calendar.
Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Hijri year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year.