Be like Japanese fans during World Cup, Mujahid tells pilgrims

Sofea Chok Suat Ling

MAKKAH: In conjunction with the start of Masyair this Sunday, a massive cleanliness campaign has been launched here for the first time to ensure tent sites occupied by Malaysians served as an example to be emulated by other countries. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, threw a challenge to Malaysian haj pilgrims and urged them to be like Japanese fans during the recent World Cup in Russia who impressed by cleaning up the stadium after a match. Equipped with large rubbish bags they brought along, the fans marched through the stadium rows picking up rubbish, leaving the place just as neat as they had found it. "Let us serve as a benchmark to other countries. Cleanliness is, after all, a reflection of our faith as Muslims," he told Malaysian pilgrims at the launch of the campaign called 'Kempen Kebersihan Perdana Masyair' at the Land Premium Hotel here. Mujahid gave out garbage bags to maktab managers during the launch to be distributed to pilgrims.

The launch event of 'Kempen Kebersihan Perdana Masyair' at the Land Premium Hotel, Makkah. Pix courtesy of Tabung Haji

Also present were Tabung Haji (TH) head of the Malaysian 1439H haj delegation Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, and Malaysian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Datuk Zainol Rahim Zainuddin. Masyair refers to the massive movement of pilgrims from Makkah to Arafah for wukuf, and then onwards to Muzdalifah, and Mina. In Muzdalifah, pilgrims will collect pebbles for the stoning ritual to be carried out in Mina. Pilgrims will stay in tents overnight in Arafah and around three nights overall in Mina. Mujahid said the campaign, which would involve a gotong-royong from 8am to 9am every day in the tent city of Mina, would help Malaysian pilgrims maintain their widely acknowledged image as the most well-behaved and disciplined in the world. The exercise to ensure cleanliness, will involve all 30,200 Malaysian haj pilgrims, and also cover Arafah and Muzdalifah. "Pilgrims will be advised to carry garbage bags and keep their respective areas clean. "The tagline this year is 'Kebersihan Mencerminkan Kemabruran Haji' so we need to live up to it." He said it was crucial for Malaysian pilgrims to retain their reputation as it has resulted in many benefits conferred by the Saudi government. It had been announced earlier that Malaysian haj pilgrims would enjoy a more comfortable and less dusty living space with ceramic tile flooring inside their tents in Mina this year, as well as new double storey toilets in Arafah and Muzdalifah. These are among efforts, together with air conditioned tents in Arafah, to make the Masyair period less trying for Malaysian pilgrims. Mujahid said while the haj had its challenges, he waa grateful that certain aspects of it had been alleviated for Malaysian pilgrims. Pilgrim Zahrah Ab Kadir lauded the effort and said she would start colllecting garbage bags to bring along with her for Masyair. "I have also encouraged roommates to cultivate the cleanliness habit from here at our accommodation buildings so it will already be second nature when we are staying in tents." Another pilgrim Ruslina Ahmad said at the moment, there was already friendly competition among the maktab on which was the cleanest. "We will certainly carry this spirit with us to Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina. Hopefully, our maktab won't just be the winner but the Malaysian tents emerge the cleanest overall among all nations. Let the others talk about us like how they talk about the Japanese during the World Cup." © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd