|Notes from the International Conference on Hajj in Makkah al Mukarramah|
|Written by Mudjia Rahardjo|
|Friday, 01 November 2013 04:19|
Following the invitation from Ministry of Hajj, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend the hajj conference, not to waste the moment I took some steps to prepare the visit as scheduled, on the 8-10 October 2013. Staff in the international office has arranged to get my visa by going to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Jakarta. Within 2 days, the visa has been on my hand. I thank Allah the Al Mighty who has made my visit to the conference in Makkah run well, without any significant handicaps. The only small handicap was the delay of my departure, from the 4th till the 5th October, 2013 due to the ticket re-arrangement. When the ticket was fixed, I endelessly thanked Allah the Almighty, because I finally could go to Saudi to attend the conference and at the same time perform hajj. This is the 3rd time of my pligrimage, after my first pilgrimage in 2000 and 2010 for the second.
Early in the morning, around 8, the 5 October 2013, I already arrived at the international airport of Jakarta. At 13.00 local time of Jakarta, I departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta by Saudi Airline together with other pilgrim candidates. I saw some groups of them from several parts of Indonesia with their special wearings. My departure was full with joy and exitement. When the plane to board, my heart was reciting a sentence of talbiyah “Labaik, Allahumma labaik, labaikala syarika lakalabaik. Innal hamda, wa ni’mata, laka wal mulk, la syarikalak”. This is is the sentence recited by every muslim who performs hajj.
It took 9 hours to fly from Jakarta to Jeddah. The plane flew very smoothly above the Hindian Ocean. I made use of those long hours in the plane to make some articles, including the journey to this 3rd pilgrimage and conference. At 18.00 local time of Jeddah, the Saudi Airline arrived very smoothly and I saw the sun was almost dawning. The weather was very nice with lamps sparkling the Jeddah international airport that evening. When we arrived a big bus was ready to pick up the passangers and send to the international arrival gate. Before leaving the airport, we were led to the immigration gate to check the visa, fill out the form provided by the immigration office of Saudi. It took some hours in the immigration before finally one by one of the passangers was let to leave.
When my turn to have my visa checked, the immigration staff asked me to show all my travel documents. Reading my documents, the staff , a big man with dark ski and loud voice, seemed to be surprised and asked me to stay away from other passangers who were standing in a long queue. I saw him call his friend to specially check me with my documents. A young and looking man soon came to pick me up to go to a special place to set up my further arrangement. I just followed him. With an invitation from the Ministry of hajj, I began to know that I was such a special guest. The man treated me with sympathy until all was settled and asked me to wait for the car to send me to the hotel where I would stay during the conference and hajj in Makkah. While waiting for the car, a couple of guests, a husband and wife, came. They were also invited guests, like me, from Uni Emirate Arab, the husband, named DR. Mahir, is a lecturer in the University in Dubai. Some time later, another man came, so with me there were four.
The last man was named Alfredo, an Italian, who is now leading a European Muslim League. We soon went into the car who brought us to the hotel in Makkah and began to know each other. Alfredo is an Italian muslim who used to be a Chatolic. He excitedly told us why and how he finally converted into a muslim. He converted into a muslim after he acquinted with a man from Saudi whom he found him good; he did not drink alcohol, always behaved well to anybody he met, etc. All these made Alfredo interested and asked him why so. He got the answer why he was so because he is a muslim. Alfredo soon wanted to know more about Islam. After some time, he converted Islam with full belief about the truth of Islam, and changed his name into ....
It took almost an hour to the hotel. In the middle of the journey, my friend from Uni Emirat reminded me to soon change my wearing with ihram wearings I already prepared from home. We all came to the hotel with ihram wearings. After putting all belongings and bags into the rooms, we left for Haram Mosque to perform umrah that evening. I was, of course, so tired after two-day travel from Jakarta. But my being tired was covered by excitement and joy to visit the Haram Mosque, inside which there is ka’bah, to where muslims all over the world direct their prays.
When we came to Masque Haram that evening, I saw the mosque was already full with the pilgrimage candidates. However, we were making some efforts to be able to get close to the ka’bah. Though with hard eforts, we finally came to the center of the mosque and started the umrah, beginning the first step from the green line to start the first round of tawaf, done until 7 rounds. We finished the umrah around 23. 00 local time before we finally went back to the hotel.
The following day of our stay in Makkah was used to visit the Ummul Qura University. We were guided to visit the University, especially the Medical Faculty. It seems that the Medical Faculty is the pride of the University. Therefore, guests who visit the university are always led there. The dean of the Faculty proudly showed us the networking of the University. We visited some libraries in the faculty. After visiting the Univesity, I spent the day to go to the Haram Mosque to perform some prayers from ashar till isya’ with full heart of devotion to Allah.
The third day was scheduled for the hajj conference which lasted for three days (8-10 October). The opening was attended by the very influencing Saudi Ulama, mufti .. , the ministry of Hajj, and the Haram imam of praying, Abdurrahman Sudes. All participants from all over the world, 200 hundred in number, were listening to the opening speeches by all speakers. The participants are mostly ulama, eminent scholars, thinkers, intellectualls, islamic organization leaders, and muslim writers from all over the world.
While following the opening speeches, I tried to find if anyone from Indonesia also came to join the conference beside me. I asked Dr. Hisham Abbas if there was anybody else from Indonesia. He said actually he invited 5 participants from Indonesia, But he did know why they did not come and, therefore, I was the only one who came. He told me that one of the invited was the Rector of Sebelas Maret University (UNS) Surakarta, who happens to be my good friend. I myself do not know why they did not respond this very important invitation. It is understood that Dr. Hisham Abbas was a bit disappointed with the case why there was no response.
The conferfence was fully conducted in Arabic. The papers of the conference are all in Arabic, but the abstracts are provided in English. With limited Arabic, I got troubles to understand the presentation. However, I have some closed friends I can ask when I do not understand, especially Dr. Mahmoud Attia Sakr, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Computer Science and Information Systems, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. We soon got closed and began to know each other wery well. During the diner time, we discussed political issues happening in our respective countries.
This conference this year was discussing “The Jurisprudence (the fiqeh) of Priorities in Hajj”. From the conference documents, I foud that this is the 38th conference, beginning from 1977. Every year a different topic is discussed. Choosing the above-mentined topic, this conference aims at regulating the performance of the hajj ritual and to facilitate it the best way possible so as to achieve the objectives of performing hajj, by seeking the priorities of deeds performed by the pilgrims and leaving the minor ones. Since the number of pilgrims increases from year to year, whose knowledge of hajj varies, and to give more guidance, the selected title is proper. This is supposed to be the greastest symposium on hajj attended by scholars, researchers, scientists, ulama from parts of the world presenting 26 papers.
Regardless of the contents of the presented papers, I feel happy and honored to invited in the three-day conference because I could get acquinted with other participants, share knowledge and experiences, and finally perform hajj. May Allah bless and accept my hajj.
Makkah, Saudi Arabia,
October 9, 2013