For the second year in a row, the Sudanese government has erected a miniature of the Mecca holy shrine to train would be pilgrims for Islam’s annual rituals and one of its five pillars.
As the time for pilgrimage draws near ─ with the numbers of pilgrims expected to reach 10,000 this year ─ the Sudanese Ministry of Guidance and Endowments and the General Association for Hajj and Umra in the state of Khartoum has erected a miniature of al-Masjid al-Haram, Islam’s holiest site located in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The miniature, located in the Green Square in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, aims to equip pilgrims on the different steps of Hajj, which proves more efficient than theoretical instructions, said Minister of Guidance and Endowments, Osman al-Kabashi.
The pre-pilgrimage training initiative cost more than $20,000, which raised concerns over a possible rise in pilgrimage fee imposed by the ministry and the General Association for Hajj and Umra.
However, an official at the association stressed that the project was fully paid for by the government and is not going to affect pilgrims’ rights or the amounts they pay.
The project has seen a remarkably high turnout as many find this a useful opportunity to learn about the rituals and ensure they don’t make mistakes.
The idea of Hajj training is very common in Malaysia where annual sessions are free of charge and conducted by Islamic scholars, mosque imams and a guide.
(This article was translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)