Three Ghanaian Hajj pilgrims partaking in the 2017 Hajj Pilgrimage have died in Saudi Arabia.
According to Graphic.com reports Thursday morning, the Hajj Board has confirmed the deaths, saying they have already informed the respective families of the deceased in Ghana.
The 3 Ghanaian Hajj pilgrims comprise two females and one male. The two females reportedly died from natural causes, with one of them dying in her sleep and the other at the hospital. The one male who also gave up the ghost at a medical facility was said to have died from a medical condition.
According to the Deputy Communications Director for Hajj Board, Hajia Marian Cissey, their families have given consent for them to be buried in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, it has been gathered that the death of these Ghanaian Hajj pilgrims may be connected to the following factors:
1. Difficult Living Conditions at The Holy City
Deputy Communications Director for Hajj Board, Hajia Marian Cissey hinted that ill health and death of the Ghanaian Hajj Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia could have a link with the very stressful and uncomfortable living conditions associated with the Haj pilgrimage.
Speaking in a radio interview with Neat FM, Thursday morning, Hajia Cissey disclosed that another elderly man was admitted at a medical facility today [Thursday August 31].
Enumerating the very many rigorous processes attached to the Hajj rituals including long distance walks, traveling on camel back, and so on, Hajia Cissey pointed out that the Muslim pilgrimage is not a tourist vacation “because you have to go through all the processes the Prophet went through, it is for the fit and able [persons]”.
2. Hajj Board Inefficiencies
Hajia Marian Cissey also revealed that the Saudi Hajj Board did not organise this year’s pilgrimage well as they failed to provide pilgrims with adequate accommodation facilities.
According to her, the board notified Ghana of their intentions to cut down the number of pilgrims making it to the Holy City just two days before their take-off; an action she described as unfair. The same experience was also said to be the case in so many other countries.
Owing to this development, the board failed to provide enough shelter and beds to accommodate the pilgrims at Arafat and Mina, resulting to overcrowding which forced some of the pilgrims to sleep outside.
Note that it is part of the Hajj rituals for pilgrims to live in tents in Arafat and Mina. Aside these two places, people are allowed to lodge in hotels other areas such as Madina and Mecca.
Hajia Cissey however disclosed that some of the pilgrims seen in the photos and videos sleeping outside under bridges circulating on social media are indeed Ghanaians but are not part of the delegation that left Ghana. According to her, some of them are Saudi residents, hence the Hajj Board was not responsible for providing accommodation for them.
3. Overcrowding at Hajj
It may not be an overstatement if one says that the issue of overcrowding at the Hajj pilgrimage is as old at the celebration itself which sees over 3 million Muslims throng Saudi Arabia to observe the rituals every year.
This year, a total of 6350 Muslim pilgrims moved from Ghana to Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj religious rituals. About 5000 Muslims made it to Saudia Arabia from Ghana in 2016, showing that the number is actually on the increase.
This increasingly overwhelming number contributes to the difficulty in management and provision of basic amenities for the pilgrims.
Hajj, known as the fifth pillar of Islam, is a very important Islamic festival which every adult Muslim is obliged to perform at least once in a lifetime. The pilgrimage which is a 5-day religious celebration takes place during the last month of the Islamic year, called “Dhul-Hijjah” in Mecca, Saudi Arabia – the holiest place in Islam.
The 2017 Hajj started on Wednesday, August 30, and ends on the evening of Monday, September, 4.