It was an emotional day yesterday morning for several families at the Piarco International Airport who gathered to bid their loved ones farewell before they began their journey to the sacred Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Sixty Muslim pilgrims left yesterday afternoon on a Caribbean Airlines flight to Toronto where they would have spent a night before departing on a 13-hour flight to Saudi Arabia. Before departing, their family members hugged and cried with them while some prayed for their safe return.
Caribbean Hajj Limited’s group leader Samir Hosein said a total of 300 pilgrims were expected to make the journey. He said the only challenge he had this year was that members of his group did not get their Canadian visas, so an alternate route was planned for them.
He said in his group there were many first timers and every year he tries his best to ensure everyone is comfortable.
“Because they are in a foreign land, we have to try and make it as homely as possible for them,” he said.
Hosein said this trip was a very important one as it was one of the five pillars of Islam.
“They are believing there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his messenger, giving zakat, praying, fasting in the month of Ramadan and making the Hajj, once you have good health, strength and the wealth,” he said.
The trip, he said, is over three weeks and they will return on September 12 at about 4.40 am.
Newsday spoke to a few people who were making the trip for the first time. They expressed that they were going through a range of emotions.
Sherida Mohammed of Warrenville fought back tears as she said she was leaving her three children, aged 25, 22 and nine.
“I’m a bit worried to leave them but they will be with my mom and dad. On the other hand I’m happy because I would be fulfilling all the wishes of my religion so it’s an experience of a lifetime so I am looking forward to it,” she said.
Annie Khan said she was excited but at the same time was sad because she was leaving her family.
“It’s a mix of emotions. I’m excited because I’m following one of the pillars of Islam and you’re also going with expectations that your Hajj will be an accepted Hajj and just being the closest you are to Allah. At the same time, it’s sad because with Hajj you never know if Allah will send you back...it’s a happy/sad moment,” she said.
She said making this trip was very important.
“Once you have completed the Hajj you have done your best towards Allah in fulfilling that pillar of Islam. You put everything that you have learnt and practice from the time you are born until this time in your life, it all comes together now,” she said.