Posted tagged ‘momin’

Haj hijacked: But, secular India continues!!

ஒக்ரோபர் 21, 2009

Haj hijacked


India is among the top 10 countries sending most Hajis. Until early 1960s when Bombay was connected to Jeddah by air, most pilgrims went by boats run by Mogul Line Ltd., a British-controlled company. In 1975, the Shipping Corporation of India, a government undertaking, took over Mogul Line. The oil crisis of the early 1970s made the cost of sea fare higher than air fare, so the ships were abandoned. Instead, the GOI gave Air India monopoly over Haj travel in 1975. The oil crisis further escalated the cost of air fare forcing the government to introduce “Haj subsidy” to Air India, not to the individual, pious pilgrim.

Deregulating Haj

Who exactly pays the Haj subsidy to Air India? Is it the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) or the Ministry of Civil Aviation? What is the exact amount? Does it change annually? These are matters of detail, but irrelevant to the principle that State should not subsidise religious pilgrimage of any kind to any place irrespective of religion.

In this particular case, the canard that the State is paying Muslims to perform Haj has done immense damage to an already demonised community. A senior Muslim leader like Syed Shahabuddin and the young Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi, have both expressed the will of the community to terminate the subsidy. The impediment to Haj subsidy abolition lies squarely with Air India, a state corporation. The Government of India, through the Central Haj Committee, should invite biddings from various airlines in India for Haj group travel and designate the lowest bidder as the official carrier of the Haj passengers.

The second matter in which the GOI is involved in Muslim pilgrimage is the Haj Goodwill Delegation. It originated in the aftermath of 1965 war with Pakistan. During the Haj, Pakistani diplomats and officials used the occasion of the international Muslim gathering to present their perspective on the Kashmir conflict. The MEA decided to counter the Pakistani version of the conflict by sending a Haj Goodwill Delegation to Mecca, obviously at state expense. Since its inception in 1966, it is led by a union minister who meets his Saudi counterpart and others.

No goodwill generated

The delegation consisted of five members. Now its numbers have shot up to 70, including spouses of the delegates. The corridors of power, the chambers of ministers and the houses of MPs in New Delhi are filled with aspirants to Haj delegation. The aspirants are mostly self-seeking politicians, unemployed, unemployable maulanas and maulavis seeking a free ride at the tax-payers’ expense. This year, the Centre has budgeted as much as Rs. 6 crores for the delegation’s cost of travel, accommodation, and incidental expenses. The official Haj delegation strains the resources of the Indian Consulate General in Jeddah, whose primary duty during the Haj is to look after the well-being of pilgrims. Instead, they are compelled to tend to the whims of the rich and powerful politicians masquerading as Muslim leaders. It is time to abolish the Haj goodwill delegation. There must be more imaginative ways of accomplishing the original purpose– countering Pakistani versions of the Kashmir conflict. The delegations are not earning the goodwill of Indian Muslims.

Haj subsidy: let Ulema spell out its stand

NAWAB MOHAMMED ABDUL ALI‘Haj hijacked,’ by Omar Khalidi, (The Hindu, Open Page, October 4, 2009) was meaningful, interesting and informative. On several occasions I have raised my voice against subsidy for the Haj.

From a religious point of view, let me quote two Hadith (authentic sayings of the Holy Prophet, PBUH) from the book Haj, Umrah and Ziarath, by an eminent Islamic scholar from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Bin Baz:

“One should arrange for his expenses of Haj and Umrah out of his or dependent progeny lawful earnings, as commanded by the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”, “Allah is pure and He accepts only what is pure” (page 14).

“A pilgrim should avoid the earnings of others and not seek others monetary help” (page 23).

Every Muslim who wants to go for Haj must keep in mind these two Hadith. Further, in the Holy Koran in Sura Imran (Sura 3) verse 97 it is clearly stated that Haj is incumbent on those who can undertake the journey. The words “can undertake” prohibit going to Haj on subsidy assistance, because it is not pilgrim’s lawful earnings, but someone else’s earnings.

The question is: “Is it morally and ethically correct to undertake Haj pilgrimage on subsidy?” Let the learned Ulema, Islamic scholars and Muslim intellectuals clarify whether performing Haj by availing of the subsidy is permissible or not under Shariat (Islamic Law).I am writing this with the utmost respect to every individual Muslim, and it is not my intention to embarrass anybody embarking on Haj pilgrimage, at any level. It is disturbing to religious beliefs, and should be corrected by the Ulema by issuing the right fatwa in the light of the Holy Koran and Hadith. No country in the world, including Muslim countries, perhaps offers Haj subsidy.

Even the High Court of Lahore in a 1997 judgment said it is un-Islamic to avail of subsidy and perform Haj. I am sure the authorities concerned will agree that spending about Rs. 400 crore (which may go up in future) for 0.06 per cent of Muslim population is justifiable.

The Government has to devise some other alternative if it really wants to help Muslims, and let the subsidy amount be used for constructive and meaningful welfare measures for the community.

One of the senior Indian politicians recently asked me what was wrong in offering Haj subsidy?The question is not what is wrong but whether it is right.

(The writer is Prince of Arcot.)