The National Hajj Commission of
Nigeria (NAHCON) stated yesterday
that it would transport back to Nigeria
all the 1,000 female pilgrims detained
in Saudi Arabia during their pilgrimage to Hajj.
For those of you who don’t know what Hajj is, the Hajj “pilgrimage”, is the
Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi
Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the
5th pillar of Islam, a religious duty
that must be carried out at least once
in the lifetime of every able bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season and it is just an amazing spectacle to witness. But that’s beside the point…the deportation story….
Every Hajj, thousands of Nigerian Muslims travel to Mecca. This year, over 1,000 female pilgrims had no idea what awaited them in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Rather than realising their aspirations as Muslims, the female pilgrims were denied entry into the Holy land. Why? Because they travelled without a “Maharam” (i.e. a male companion).
In Saudi Arabia, life for a women without a male companion is somewhat different, to say the least. Under Saudi law, women are minors who require permission from a male relative to work, leave the country, etc. But hey, I’m sure the the Qur’an has an explanation for this. Right? My beef today is with the deportation issue.
Yes, my main gripe (I have a few) with this deportation situation is the fact that it wasn’t handled professionally. I mean, to start, if it’s that important (deportation important), why not make it SUPER clear before these women travel all the way to Mecca. I mean, you tell me there were absolutely no points of intervention before these ladies’ pilgrimage started? The Saudi officials there couldn’t accompany the women so they could perform their rites? Most of these women have been saving up for this pilgrimage for most of their lives. You tell me the only solution to this issue was to deport them? Over 1,000 of them?
The Nigerian officials, say only Nigerian pilgrims were deported. Whether or not this is the case, the whole situation has been handled very badly and extremely disappointingly. Deportation can’t be your first and only solution.