By Andy Sambidge
Association of British Hujjaj UK urges action to end 'financial exploitation' of pilgrims
An organisation working for the wellbeing of hajj and Umrah pilgrims from the UK is calling for action to stop their "financial exploitation" when buying package to visit Saudi Arabia.
The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) has voiced its concern regarding what it calls the "extortionate increase" in Hajj package prices demanded by operators.
The main pilgrimage season begins in October this year but hundreds of thousands also visited the kingdom during the holy month of Ramadan.
A statement read: "It is highly regrettable that these service providers do not have any regard and respect for the values and teachings of Islam.
"They are preying on vulnerable pilgrims including sick, elderly and the disabled cheating and charging them at extortionate and unjustified prices for the Hajj & Umrah packages and the profits made by these service providers are absolutely outrageous."
The association did not give any specific details regarding price hikes but called them "a total rip-off".
The statement added: "This situation has worsened significantly in the last few years to such an extent that the Muslim Ummah is now looking towards the Custodian of the two Holy mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to take stern action to stop financial exploitation of millions of pilgrims from around the world by these unscrupulous service providers.
"It is vital that the Kingdom makes every effort to eradicate the corruption, malpractice and exploitation."
Its seems they are on the right track, except that they should include some comparison figures of Hajj packages over the last few years.
It is Kingdom income, how come they take action against their income. If actions need to be taken, it should be on Oil, Fertilizers used to cultivate food, and Ammunition sold by all five big super powers to create wars and terror in the world.
It is about time someone notices, and we shoudl appreciate an action and some kind of regulation against this financial exploitation. The greed of concerned authortities, Saudi included, and related operators has overtaken the spiritual importance of the ritual.
It is not Kingdom Income. It is the dodgy so called "religious" tour operators outside Saudi Arabia who charge the ludicrous amounts (more than ten times the the normal fees in some cases if they know you are not familiar with the travel). The Kingdom have very fair rates.
Best option is to do your homework thoroughly.
It is business as usual like peak season in a tourist hot spot. They rip-off because they know they can do and get away with it. Added to that locals attitude to foreigners you got it, no religion, no teaching matters it is pure materialism.
I would like to share my personal experience...Last year before doing Hajj, I asked for offers from tour operators. I couldn't believe the luxury packages & its high charges. Hajj is a journey once in a life time for each Muslims who can afford it.But with the ongoing high prices its just impossible for poor to perform Hajj. Luxury Luxury..its everywhere. People need luxury tour operators so that they don't face much difficulties, But without pain how one expect reward? Kindly make arrangements for economic & affordable Hajj specially for poor people...Make accommodation near to the Holy place for them so that they don't get everyday trouble in commuting. If strong actions are not taken, I personally afraid the Hajj will be only for rich & wealth. Jazak Allah
What Happened to not profiting from religion ??
I think that these holy places, Mecca and Madinah should be ruled by a council representing all Muslim countries and they operate all these matters. The Vatican city isn't ruled by Italy, but seperate state. This will need strong will and determination from everyone.
It is mainly due to pilgrims own attitude, as they wish to avoid maximum of HAJ hardships, which are the essance of the whole ritual.