"Some 27,500 Iraqi pilgrims were selected by ballot to perform hajj this year, a large majority of whom are young men and women," Mohamed Adnan of the Iraqi Sunni Waqf authority told IslamOnline.net Wednesday, December 28.
This year, some 38,000 Iraqis applied for the spiritual journey.The Sunni official said that priority was giving during conducting the ballot to select old people to perform the Islamic ritual.
"But the results showed that large numbers of young Iraqis were among the hajj winners."
He stressed that among the Iraqi pilgrims were also 1,500 relatives to victims of the bloody Shiite stampede in last September.
Up to 1,005 Shiites were killed in a stampede as they marched to Al-Kadhimiya mosque in Baghdad 's Al-Kadhimiya district to commemorate the death of the seventh imam, Musa Al-Kadhim, a revered religious figure among Shiites.
Many of the dead drowned after falling off the Al-Aaimmah bridge into the river in a surge of panic triggered by rumors that suicide bombers were in the crowd.
Hajj is one of the "five pillars" of Islam, and thus an essential part of Muslims' faith and practice on the condition of physical and financial ability.
It consists of several ceremonies meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
After selection to perform hajj, many young Iraqi pilgrims expressed their joy and happiness.
"Under the former Iraqi regime, only the elderly were allowed to perform hajj," Hussein Majeed told IOL.
"But this year, pilgrims were selected by ballot, allowing many young Iraqis to perform the Islamic ritual."
Omar Mo'aed, 32, agreed.
"The high numbers of young Iraqis applying to perform hajj this year came after removing restrictions placed by the deposed Iraqi regime on performing the Islamic ritual."
He stressed that the government subsidies for hajj were also instrumental in encouraging large numbers of young Iraqis to apply for hajj.
He, however, said that the government subsidies were only part of a propagation campaign to win the country's parliamentary elections, held on Dec. 15.
The Iraqi government of Ibrahim Jaafari announced that it would pay some $1100 as subsidies per Iraqi pilgrim.
Hajj costs range this year between $1600 for land travel to Makkah, while it costs $1700 for air flights.
In the past two years, Hajj costs ranged between $1000 to 1200 per person, without any government subsidies.
Encouraging Iraqis to apply for hajj, the Iraqi hajj-organizing companies proposed to allow Iraqis to pay on installment for hajj on.
"The move was to help the low-income Iraqis to perform the Islamic ritual," Al-Baneya firm, a hajj-organizing company, told IOL.
Source: IslamOnline.netLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16