Safari Wukuf to help very ill pilgrims complete haj [NSTTV]

Sofea Chok Suat Ling

MINA: Tabung Haji's Safari Wukuf programme helped 117 critically ill Malaysian pilgrims complete their haj this year, something they will not have otherwise been able to do going by their frail condition. The programme, which involves ferrying the pilgrims in converted buses to the Plain of Arafah, enabled them to perform a compulsory rite of haj, wukuf, on Monday. Failure to be present or stay in Arafah on 9 Zulhijjah, even if they had performed other rituals, would invalidate their haj.

Tabung Haji's Safari Wukuf programme helped 117 critically ill Malaysian pilgrims complete their haj this year, something they will not have otherwise been able to do going by their frail condition.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, said eight buses were converted into ambulances equipped with beds and hospital equipment for the purpose. "This year's Safari Wukuf involved the highest number of patients," he said, adding this was Tabung Haji's (TH) initiative to ensure pilgrims complete their haj by any means possible. The pilgrims were taken on the converted buses to Arafah to pray and make supplications on the auspicious day for two hours, and then returned to Syisyah Dar Al-Mubarak, the biggest TH medical center in the Holy Land. It is said that during wukuf or the Day of Arafah, the skies will open up and God will accept the sincere repentance and prayers from pilgrims. The final part of haj rites, the stoning ritual, is delegated to others for these pilgrims. Before Safari Wukuf was introduced in 2016, it was difficult for critically ill patients as they could not withstand being moved from the hospital to Arafah to stay in tents. "So it was decided that they be placed in converted buses to Arafah instead. This way they remain stabilised and we have managed to cut down the rate of deaths during wukuf," he said after visiting Syisyah Dar Al-Mubarak. With him was TH head of the Malaysian 1439H haj delegation Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman. Mujahid said accompanying the buses were two ambulances in case of emergency. "The patients on the buses received one-on-one care by medical personnel. An uztaz followed too to lead them in prayers." Mujahid said, however, that four pilgrims could not wukuf this year as they were in a coma in hospital. There are a total of 266 Malaysian medical personnel from various disciplines in the Holy Land during the haj season. Mujahid said 149 pilgrims were hospitalised at TH medical centres here while 16 were warded in Saudi hospitals. He said 10 pilgrims have died, one after wukuf from heart problems. In expressing condolences, he said family members of pilgrims have been informed. "They succumbed to, among others, chest infections, heart problems, and in one case cancer," He said the rate of hospitalisation and deaths have been lower compared to the corresponding period in previous years, but cautioned all parties not to be complacent. "We have more public health specialists going from room-to-room this year who are tasked with identifying pilgrims with health issues. This is the first line of defence. Air-conditioned tents in Arafah this year also helped a lot." Pilgrims, he said, should take care as the weather was very hot and they needed to seek early treatment so they would be well during the crucial Masyair period. Masyair refers to the massive movement of pilgrims from Makkah to Arafah for wukuf, and then onwards to Muzdalifah, and Mina. Mujahid urged pilgrims to heed TH's rules to ensure there were no untoward incidents in the last few days of Masyair. "Everything has run smoothly so far. For the stoning ritual, please abide by the schedule for Malaysian pilgrims which is from asar prayer time onwards in the evening." Malaysian pilgrims are now performing the stoning ritual here. This symbolic gesture, signifying the renunciation of the devil, takes place over four days until Friday at the massive, three-storey Jamarat Complex, a 3.5km walk from the Malaysian tents here.

The Safari Wukuf programme helped 117 critically ill pilgrims complete their haj this year.

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