by Afreen Baig
What Saudi Arabia magnanimously spends in return upon the pilgrims, pilgrimage and the Holy Mosques is way beyond the 3% impious critics boast of spending and advocate for boycotting Hajj.
Every year as Hajj approaches, secular irreverents creep out of nowhere, to publish blasphemous articles against a pillar of Islam—Hajj.
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar that Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said, Islam is based on the following five principles:
To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger in Sahih Al-Bukhari 8, Vol.1, Book-2, Hadith 8.
- To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
- To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
- To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Makkah).
- To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.
ALLAH almighty says in Surah Al-Baqara Verse 196, “And complete the Hajj and Umrah for ALLAH”.
Only the most nefarious of individuals like Moazzem Begg, Waeza Shamsia and Fadhel Achour – could sell an ideologue contrary to Quran and Sunnah – urging Muslims to boycott the 4th pillar of Islam that is Hajj.
Imagine, urging Muslims to boycott a pillar of Islam—Hajj, whereas our righteous Caliphs were ready to fight to preserve all the pillars of Islam.
Nothing could be as vile as intellectual dishonesty – especially when that comes from men like Fadhel Achour who is not opposed to gay marriages in Tunisia, or Moazzem Begg who proclaims to have held interactions with extremist organizations in Syria and was declared as a “terrorist risk”, and Waeza Shamsia Afzal who calls the “Saudi regime evil because they disallow LGBTQ rights”.
These self-righteous censurers call Saudi rulers “sycophants” who live a treacherous “ultra-luxurious lifestyle” off oil and pilgrimage, concluding “boycotting Hajj is a powerful weapon in their collective hands” to punish and destabilize the Saudi government. Benightedness of highest order!
FACT is—Hajj spending makes a negligible 3% of Saudi GDP and revenues.
- Projected Hajj spending in 2015 amounted to Sr. 17 bn ($ 4.5 bn).
- Saudi Arabia had set a state budget for 2015 with total revenues projected to reach Sr. 715 bn ($190.7 billion).
- Critics assert the Kingdom earns from Pilgrims. These stats contradict them.
Hajj Revenues / Total Revenues = Percentage Earnings — $ 4.5 bn / $ 190.7 bn = 2.35%
- 2013 — Revenue from pilgrims makes 3% of Saudi GDP.
- 2017 — Saudi Study says Hajj Revenues Touch on $4 Billion.
FACT is—What Saudi Arabia magnanimously spends in return upon the pilgrims, pilgrimage and the Holy Mosques is way beyond the 3% impious critics boast of spending and advocate boycotting Hajj.
The Kingdom ensures flawless facilities, safety and security enabling the pilgrims to perform their rites in perfection.
According to Saudi Health Ministry, during this ongoing Hajj of 2019 – 25 state-of-art hospitals and 156 clinics were set up at the holy sites of Mina, Arafah and Muzdalifah.
So far—685 cardiac catheterizations, 29 open heart surgeries, 1948 dialysis procedures, 103 endoscopic operations and 532 general surgeries – have been conducted during this ongoing Hajj of 2019. Total 363,567 patients treated. Saudi government dedicated 80 well-equipped large ambulances and 30,000 doctors and nurses on duty. ALL FREE OF COST.
350,000 airconditioned tents. 300,000 Security officers. 32,000 Scouts. 25,000 buses and drivers. 60,000 Engineers. 36,000 toilets. 600 water dispensers.
13,776 telecommunication towers, 5,400 wifi zones to serve pilgrims. 4000 cleaners equipped with 400 machines deployed for the Grand Makkah Mosque only.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had started massive SR500 billion ($133 bn) projects, which are underway and on-track in Madinah. Mega projects include expansion of Prophet Mosque at a cost of SR. 70 billion ($18.6 billion), Dar Al Hijra housing and services project worth SR. 55 billion ($14.6 billion), the Madinah Haramain high speed rail project at a cost of SR.60 billion ($16 billion), Knowledge City at SR.25 billion ($6.6 billion) and the expansion of Prince Mohammed Airport at SR.6 billion (1.6 billion).
Since 2008, Makkah expansion and construction projects for pilgrims, surrounding Makkah began as a three decade $227 billion plan. The largest single project is of $60 billion Grand Mosque Expansion.
FACT is—Kingdom has hosted and served over 95 million Hajj pilgrims in the last 50 years.
These random stats should put ingrates calling for boycott to shame! The Kingdom serves selflessly without motives, without flaunting or bragging – testimony to the generous expenditure it has endured since decades. May ALLAH bless and aid them as Custodians of the two Holy Mosques!
Furthermore, to encourage non-pilgrimage tourism the SCTH under the initiatives of NTP 2020 shall implement 79 projects. Rehabilitation and operation of 15 handicraft centers, 28 urban heritage sites, establish 18 regional museums to 24 in Kingdom.
SCTH will rehabilitate 80 archaeological sites, bringing their total to 155, in addition to registering three more sites on UNESCO World Heritage List, bringing Kingdom’s total registered acclaimed sites to seven.
More than 5,200 construction projects worth $800 billion are currently rolling out in all major cities of Saudi Arabia.
Vision 2030, the $500 billion NEOM expected to generate an annual income of $100 billion, and multi-billion dollar Al-Qiddiya Projects are testimony to Kingdom’s resolve to diversify tourism sector, reform Saudi economy for post-oil era and become an innovative force.
Saudi Arabia is ranked 3rd globally – after Russia and USA – in terms of natural resources wealth, with the total value of natural resources valued at $34.4 trillion. Let that sink in!
Saudi Arabia is the world’s richest oil producer, largest proven oil reserves, and the $2 trillion Saudi Aramco’s $111 billion profits dwarf all mega rivals of this world.
Saudi Arabia has the world’s 6th largest proven Gas reserves of over 7 trillion cubic metres (250 trillion cubic feet).
Saudi Arabia has one of world’s largest Gold reserves, with 600 gold deposit sites identified for mining.
Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources identified 1,270 sources of precious stones and 1,170 sources of other industrial minerals. Phosphate deposits potentials to become amongst 5th largest producer.
Kingdom has already been blessed enormously by ALLAH Almighty! It is of zero importance to the pious rulers and the benevolent government of Saudi Arabia what the “pilgrimage industry” contributes to the vendors of Makkah and Medinah.
Last, I wish to put the arrogance of these critics in place who declare “as for Hajj and Umrah, it is in our hands”. No, it is not! Read Surah Al-Hajj and repent.
It was reported in at-Tabari (18:605-607) from Ibn Abbas that Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him said: “O Lord, how can I convey this to people when my voice will not reach them?” It was said: “Call them and WE will convey it.”
So Ibrahim peace be upon him stood up and said: “O Mankind! Your Lord has established a House so come on pilgrimage to it.” The mountains lowered themselves so that his voice would reach all regions of the Earth, and those who were still in their mother’s wombs and their father’s loins would hear the call. The response came from everyone in the cities, deserts and countryside, and those whom Allah decreed will make the pilgrimage until the Day of Judgment, as Allah said:
“And proclaim to the people the Hajj (pilgrimage); they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass”- [Surah Al Hajj 22:27]
O’ Muslims, protect your Faith and Hajj even if it costs the world!
Afreen Baig is a regular writer on contemporary issues of Middle-East and the Arab World. She writes for The Milli Chronicle. She can be followed under @baig_afreen.