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#1516 [Permalink] Posted on 9th November 2012 03:28
Quba Mosque revamp plan


9 November 2012 - 24 Thul-Hijjah 1433 H

Pilgrims throng the Quba Mosque in Madinah, Thursday. The foundation of Quba, the first mosque ever built, was laid by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) upon his arrival in Madinah from Makkah. The historic mosque, about three km from the Prophet’s Mosque, was completed in 622 C.E.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has this year approved a SR100 million revamp plan of the historic mosque. The ministry began the 8,000 sq. meter expansion project in February that is scheduled to complete in 24 months.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121109142214
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#1517 [Permalink] Posted on 9th November 2012 03:39
KSA raises SR62 billion
 
from pilgrims


9 November 2012 - 24 Thul-Hijjah 1433 H

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has raised about SR62 billion ($16.5 billion) from Muslim pilgrimages this year to Makkah and Madinah, religious tourism sources have said.

A total of 12 million pilgrims visited Islam’s holiest sites during this year’s Haj or for the year-long Umrah, or minor pilgrimage, according to sources quoted by local media Thursday.

The pilgrims — including 3.1 million who performed the Haj, according to official figures — spent SR62 billion, a rise of 10 percent over 2011 because of increased costs, sources were quoted as saying.

It represents three percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), sources said.

The revenue earned this year positively reflects on the services utilities including hotels, money exchange outlets, retail shops, telecommunication and eateries in the Western Region, economic experts said. They stressed on the need to employ more Saudi youth in religious tourism sector so as to reduce dependence on expatriate workers who are hired temporarily during the season.

This, the experts said, can be done gradually and in the meantime Saudi youth can be trained to perform different tasks related to Haj and Umrah.

On an average, a pilgrim spends SR7,000 to SR15,000 during his stay in the Kingdom.

This year’s Haj, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah region and Chairman of the Central Haj Committee said, was one of the most successful pilgrimage seasons despite the huge number of illegal pilgrims.

“Everything went very well,” Prince Khaled said, adding that this year’s pilgrimage was “the most successful Haj season ever.”

The Emir said the number of pilgrims this year was between 3.16 to 3.65 million, blaming the inaccuracy on the enormous number of unregistered pilgrims.

There were between 1.3 to1.4 million pilgrims with no Haj permits this year and they used services they were not entitled to, the Emir said, adding that this huge number of unregistered pilgrims caused many problems for the Haj organizing committee.

About 120,000 police were deployed throughout the five-day pilgrimage, along with an equal number of health and sanitation employees.

Though marred in the past by deadly incidents including floods, stampedes and fires, the Haj has become nearly incident-free in recent years because of multi-billion dollar projects.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121109142213
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#1518 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 03:40
Haj a life-changing experience
 
for Indian writer
 
 


 
Friday 9 November 2012

JEDDAH: The spiritual journey of Haj is sprinkled with incredible experiences that put us in touch with our real self, says prominent Urdu writer, critic and translator Rakhshanda Jalil.

“It has been a life-changing experience for me. I feel lighter, more grounded and internally transformed,” she said in an exclusive interview about her experiences during Haj this year.

Jalil, who is known for her activities as coordinator of the cultural center in Delhi’s Jamia Millia, first visited the Kingdom as part of India’s cultural delegation some years ago and is now fully engaged in literary activities. She translated several books including poems of Shehriyar Khan from Urdu to English and researched the progressive literary movement in India.

She said Haj was an internally transformative experience. “It is too early to say how it will affect my life or work. I see the Haj as a personal, inner experience. I’m not sure if in my case it will manifest in any outward way. It isn’t as though I‘ll start wearing a hijab or my husband will grow a beard. Instead, I think inwardly we will be stronger. Hopefully I will pray more regularly than I did before.”

Jalil said when pilgrims stay in Mina, they don’t think about worldly matters. “My cell phone was off for two weeks. I didn’t read newspapers or watch TV and I haven’t felt like I missed anything. My only contact with the real world was daily calls to my two children in Delhi. I enjoyed the feeling of communion with Allah. Sitting in the Grand Mosque facing the Holy Kaaba and praying, you feel you are communicating your deepest feelings to Allah.”

Jalil was highly impressed by the volunteer service extended by the Indian community during Haj. “I was told around 2,000 Indians, mostly from Kerela, come from all over the Kingdom to serve the Hajis. They gave directions, helped consular staff and did many things to reduce the difficulties of Hajis.” She praised office manager Mamdouh Mohammad for his selfless services to pilgrims.

The only problem Jalil found in Mina was the accumulation of garbage. “We stayed in the camp of the Indian Consulate. The arrangements were very good. But I wondered about the piles of rubbish out on the streets. The Saudi government must do something to address this problem,” she said.

Jalil’s new book on the progressive writers movement is being published by Oxford University Press. She recently finished a biography about Rashid Jahan, a feminist and Urdu writer and is currently writing a history of Wynberg Allen, a 125-year-old school in Mussoorie, and the contribution of Anglo-Indian schools to the Indian education system.

http://www.arabnews.com/haj-life-cha...-indian-writer
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#1519 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 03:41
Mobily’s calls from
 
holy sites up 32% during Haj

 
8 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 23, 1433

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) confirmed a 32 percent increase in the number of outgoing calls in its network within the holy sites since the beginning of the Haj season until the end of October, compared to the same period last year.

Mobily’s MD and CEO Khalid Al-Kaf said the increase in Mobily’s network during Haj and the great success in absorbing local and international calls effectively came within Mobily’s strategies during the annual Haj season, taking into consideration the steady increase in the number of pilgrims year after year and providing offers designed to serve pilgrims accordingly.

Al-Kaf confirmed that the advanced infrastructure provided by Mobily in Makkah, (with the optical fiber network that links the fixed and mobile towers, including those on the Jamrat bridge), along with seven major circuits in addition to international circuits, all contributed significantly to ease the communication process.

Also, Mobily’s technical and marketing plans have achieved great success, which leads Mobily to continue the march of success achieved in each Haj season.

This Haj season, Mobily’s increase in the size of the data capacity amounted to 502 percent over the same period last year. Calls from around the Holy Haram have witnessed an increase of 101 percent in the data capacity compared to last year.

Mobily has adopted a number of creative marketing plans during this year’s Haj season that contributed significantly to pilgrims to benefit from the excellent services provided by the company, in addition to the availability of point of sales at different locations.

http://www.arabnews.com/mobily%E2%80...-32-during-haj
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#1520 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:00
Space odyssey makes astronaut
 
 
appreciate divine creation

8 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 23, 1433

RIYADH: Circumambulating the Holy Kaaba during tawaf may be compared to the planets going round the sun, said Malaysian astronaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who has been in outer space in 2007.

In an interview with Arab News on the occasion of the 25th Annual Association of Space Explorers Congress (ASE) and the second Saudi International Space and Aeronautics Technology Conference, Shukor said that when he performed Haj two years ago, “I saw how the people circumambulate around the holy Kaaba and I felt as if I was in space again. All planets are similarly moving in the same direction. This is the reason why we perform tawaf in a symbolic act that shows Allah is the focus of the universe and also its creator. You feel the greatness of Allah while you are up there.”

Shukor is the second astronaut from Southeast Asia after his counterpart from Vietnam went up in 1990. Among Muslims he is the ninth astronaut to go into space, while Prince Sultan bin Salman was the first Muslim to have that distinction. Others were from Syria, Kazakhstan and Iran, to name a few.

“When I was chosen for the space mission, I wanted to do research in the field of medical technology. I tried to reach out to the people and spread the message of Islam in relation to science. Muslims reached the peak of their glory in the past only when they combined the study of science with other subjects in their educational system.”

Shukor said a careful study of the Holy Qur’an could help in a better understanding of science. “When I was describing this to the people in Jordan, someone said this was mentioned in the Qur’an. He said that Allah would open your heart and mind, so that you could understand and appreciate the mysteries of His creation. I felt the same way when I was traveling in outer space.”

The space odyssey changed his perspective on life and made him realize how all aspects of life are mentioned in the Qur’an. “The problem is that we don’t study Qur’an in a scientific way. We have to study it thoroughly and apply it in the field of research and in our life. We should change our perception on how we study the Qur’an.”

A space mission is a costly affair. For this reason, Malaysia is not thinking of sending another astronaut in the near future. “At the moment we are focusing on education, science and technology. But the space trip has ignited interest among the people. In the near future we expect to have thousands of scientists in our country.”

Shukor hoped Saudi Arabia would be a leader of the Islamic world when it came to science and guide Islamic countries in their exploration of outer space. “The starting point of this exercise could be the setting up of an Islamic Space Agency. To me, this would be a very important step that could help unite all the Islamic scientists around the world to work as one group,” he said.

Since the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALESCO) already exists, the world seems ready for Shukor’s proposed Islamic Space Agency.

Asked how he prayed in the outer space, he replied: “Although there is no way of knowing the Qiblah, you can pray in any direction while you are floating. After all, the whole universe belongs to Allah. Also, I had to do tayamum (the Islamic act of dry ablution using sand or dust) instead of using water.”

He continued: “I believe Islam is a way of life. You can pray standing or lying down. You can move your body and even your eyes. So there is no excuse for not doing your ibadah (worship). This is the message I am trying to send out to all Muslims: no matter where you are, you have to shoulder your responsibility as a Muslim,” said Shukor.

http://www.arabnews.com/space-odysse...ivine-creation

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor

Sheikh Muszaphar Shuko (Jawi: شيخ موسزڤهر شكاورالمسري بن شيخ مصطفى; born Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie bin Sheikh Mustapha on July 27, 1972) is a Malaysian orthopaedic surgeon and was the first Malaysian to go into space. He was launched to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-11 with the Expedition 16 crew on October 10, 2007.[1][2] Sheikh Muszaphar flew under an agreement with Russia through the Angkasawan program, and returned to Earth on October 21, 2007, aboard Soyuz TMA-10 with the Expedition 15 crew members, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Muszaphar_Shukor
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#1521 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:04
Preserving spiritual
 
gains from Haj


Pilgrims leave after throwing stones at pillars symbolizing Satan, as part of a Haj pilgrimage ritua
8 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 23, 1433

Allah the Almighty legislated acts of worship and obedience for great wisdom and sublime objectives. They strengthen one’s faith, purify soul, correct the attitude and refine the morals. If acts of worship do not achieve these objectives, then the Muslim would not benefit from them properly. In such a case, acts of worship might turn into lifeless rituals that one performs without any actual influence on his reality and attitude.

This rule applies to Haj. When the believer performs Haj properly realizing its objectives and feeling its meanings, it will be of great influence upon him in this life and in the Hereafter.

Thus, dear pilgrim, Allah the Almighty honored you with the blessing of visiting His House and enabled you to perform His obligation. Therefore, you have to stop and contemplate your conditions, review the state of your heart and correct the course of your life.

The first thing you have to realize is the greatness of the blessing that Allah the Almighty bestowed upon you when He facilitated your affairs and enabled you to perform this great duty. Certainly, this necessitates you to praise Allah the Exalted for this blessing, of which many people are deprived, despite their longing for it. Praising Allah the Almighty for this blessing entails preserving it, adherence to obedience to Allah the Almighty and compliance with His religion and Shariah.

The most important thing that you should maintain after your Haj is the issue of steadfastness and guarding this great deed (your performance of Haj) against things that could nullify it. You should ask Allah the Almighty ceaselessly to help you adhere firmly to His religion and guide you to obey Him, and make you avoid His disobedience so that you “will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions.” (Qur’an, 4:69)

Allah Almighty gave people examples illustrating this issue to warn His slaves of invalidating their deeds and losing them when they need them urgently. Allah the Almighty says: “Would one of you like to have a garden of palm trees and grapevines underneath which rivers flow in which he has from every fruit? But he is afflicted with old age and has weak offspring, and it is hit by a whirlwind containing fire and is burned. Thus does Allah make clear to you [His] verses that you might give thought.” (Qur’an 2:266)

This example speaks about those who did good deeds and then regressed replacing good deeds with evil ones. We seek refuge with Allah the exalted from this. In his commentary on this verse, Ibn ‘Abbaas, (may Allah be pleased with him), said: "This is an example of a rich man who does good acts out of obedience of Allah and then Allah sends him the devil whereupon he commits sins till all his good deeds are lost.” (Al-Bukhari)

Dear pilgrim, remember that the accepted Haj has signs. The most prominent of these signs is the continuity of uprightness and obedience to Allah the Exalted. Furthermore, your relationship with Allah the Almighty should be better than before. Al-Hasan Al-Basri, May Allah have mercy upon him, was told that the accepted Haj is rewarded by Paradise. He said, “The sign of this is to return (from Haj) renouncing this world and aspiring to the Hereafter.”

I wish that you, dear pilgrim, would finish your Haj while you realize that its most important objective is to train the Muslim in worshipping Allah the Almighty alone, to comply with His commandments, avoid His prohibitions and follow the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace be upon him). These objectives are not confined to a certain time; rather, the Muslim should adhere to them as long as he is alive. Allah the Almighty says: “And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (death).” (Qur’an 15:99)

Your condition after doing good deeds should be like those about whom Allah the Almighty says (what means): “And they who give what they give while their hearts are fearful because they will be returning to their Lord.” (Qur’an 23:60)

Although they try to get closer to Allah the Almighty through various acts of worship, they fear that their deeds may be rejected. That is why Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “Be more concerned about the acceptance of your deeds than about the deeds themselves. Have not you read the Qur’anic verse in which Allah the Almighty says: (Indeed, Allah only Accepts from the righteous [who fear Him]?” (Qur’an 5:27)

Hence, Allah the Almighty commanded the pilgrims to seek His forgiveness after departing from Arafat and Muzdalifah saying: “Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart and ask Forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is forgiving and merciful.” (Qur’an 2:199)

Finally, dear pilgrim, you stood at Arafat, you shed tears and you showed remorse over your previous misdeeds. Allah the Almighty emancipated you from Hell, so beware of regressing to sins after being forgiven by Allah or drawing near Hell after being saved from it.

Be determined to make your Haj a turning point in your life, reckon yourself and determine what influence your Haj had upon your heart, attitude, words and deeds.

Keep doing good deeds even if they are little, because regular small deeds are better than interrupted greater ones. You should know that deeds, which Allah the Almighty loves most, are the most regular and constant ones even though they were little.

We ask Allah the Almighty by His names and most beautiful attributes to accept your Haj, forgive your sins and reward you for your efforts. We also ask Him to accept our good deeds and provide us with steadfastness and uprightness until death.

http://www.arabnews.com/preserving-spiritual-gains-haj
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#1522 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:06
Seen from space,
 
only the two holy cities stand out

http://www.google-directions.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/kaaba-mecca-saudi-arabia.png
Makkah
9 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 24, 1433

The three Russian astronauts who came to visit the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) told Saudi students that while taking a picture of some beautiful cities from outer space, the brightest and beautiful cities he saw were Makkah and Madinah, specifically the spots in the centers of the two holy cities. These astronauts came as part of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) program during their 25th Assembly in Riyadh this week.

“When you are in outer space, we take photos during the day for good visibility and shot, but at night it is difficult to take pictures because you have to use a special technique. In spite of this, I managed to take many pictures of various cities at night. I was amazed to find that the cities of Makkah and Madinah outshone other cities around the world,” observed astronaut Anatoly Ivanishin during an interaction with the students.

The astronauts were hosted at the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) by the PSSO’s Supervisor General Khalid Abdul Gader Taher who briefed his guests on the activities of the oasis.

Ivanishin said that other cities do not look bright at night but the view of Makkah and Madinah from outer space was a breathtaking and unprecedented spectacle.

The four Russian astronauts who visited the oasis are Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and their interpreter Boris Meshcherykov.

PSSO is a nonprofit organization charged with developing an interactive science center. Through the science center and associated activities, PSSO aims to improve public awareness of science and to promote scientific knowledge and its practical applications in terms of promoting peace and how this knowledge can benefit mankind as a whole.

Oasis seeks to inspire people with the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge and technology in ways that respect cultural diversity and freedom. PSSO is affiliated to Riyadh Philanthropic Society for Science, a nonprofit organization headed by Crown Prince Salman. An executive council for PSSO was established to supervise and guide the development of this project and provide the necessary support at both private and government levels.

This council is headed by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and founding member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the host of the 25 the association assembly.

In his welcoming note, the mayor of Madinah said : "You are not Russians, you are earthlings, I am not a Saudi man, I am an earthling and we are brothers in the service of humanity. You people are so blessed because out of seven billion people on Earth you were able to go to space and understand the universe around you."

"This is the difference, you see the big picture. I am not blessed as you but I am trying to see the picture, you see the big picture through your hearts and through your eyes. I only see the picture from my heart. You are blessed that's why when you say that you have that bright picture of Madinah you are showing me something very precious. You are going through the philosophy of life to make a difference in your research in medicine, helping communication, transportation and environment and so on " he added.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Taher told Arab News that the Russian astronaut’s observation was inspiring from a spiritual point of view. He said the noteworthy point was how, amid thousands of cities on the Earth, the brightest lights he saw from space were the ones coming from Makkah and Madinah.

“To me spiritually we understand that and we realize it. And I really wish and ask the Almighty Allah to help us that the light he saw up there as shiny for him will also be shiny for the rest of the world,” said the official, who was a former mayor of Madinah.

He said: “The visit of these astronauts means a lot for our country. We should really admire, respect and praise so highly the efforts of the Kingdom and Custodian of Two Holy Mosques for his vision and his continued work not only to serve his own people or the Muslims but the entire world. We see every day a new initiative,” he observed.

Taher also paid tribute to Prince Salman for his support for PSSO and his dedication to the cause of strengthening the Kingdom’s security and development. “Prince Sultan bin Salman himself has set a good example for the Saudi youth through his dedication, creativity and commitment. These people are coming to our country for the second time. The first time was when the association was launched. Prince Sultan as founding member maintains good relations with these renowned scientists and astronauts for the benefit of the younger generation in the Kingdom.”

He attributed the Kingdom’s progress to the long-term vision and far-sightedness of the Kingdom’s leadership. They have relied on the Islamic law to steer the country on the path of progress, modernity and prosperity without losing its cultural ethos.

http://www.arabnews.com/seen-space-o...ties-stand-out
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#1523 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:07
New system reduces
 
processing time for pilgrim departures

10 November 2012 - 25 Thul-Hijjah 1433 H

MADINAH – The Ministry of Haj can now process documents of pilgrims who want to travel from Makkah to Madinah in record time, thanks to an automated system installed recently.

The new system allows the ministry to simultaneously contact the General Cars Syndicate, transport companies, relevant Tawafa establishments and other pertinent authorities and get the departure procedures for each bus to be completed in just three minutes. In the past, this process took a considerably long time due to lengthy paperwork.

Issa Rawas, undersecretary for Umrah affairs at the ministry, said as a result of paperwork, pilgrims often had to wait for hours before they could depart. However, the ministry’s new automated system allows simultaneous exchange of information among several pertinent bodies. “The ministry has tested out the system several times before using it to make sure it is reliable, fast and capable of reducing processing time,” he said.

“The information exchanged on the system included the number of pilgrims who want to depart to Madinah at a particular time. Once the cars syndicate receives this information, it makes available sufficient number of buses for the job, of course, after cross-checking all information,” he added.

The ministry has also set up checkpoints at all exit points from Madinah to verify travel information of all departing pilgrims.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121110142322


Egyptian pilgrim dies fulfilling a wish

10 November 2012 - 25 Thul-Hijjah 1433 H

MADINAH — An Egyptian pilgrim died on board a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane bound for Cairo after suffering a heart attack.

Muhammad Alaam died after fulfilling his wish to perform Haj. He had a heart attack when the airplane was flying over Madinah and the captain made an emergency landing at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport.

The Egyptian died before the airplane was able to land. According to a source at the airport, Alaam’s body was taken to King Fahd Hospital in Madinah.

Alaam’s son said his father, who used to work as a police officer in Cairo, had always dreamed of performing Haj.

“My father had undergone open-heart surgery before departing for the Kingdom to perform Haj. He got tired after Haj and we had to admit him into Al-Shumaisy Hospital in Riyadh where he stayed for a few days before being discharged,” he said.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121110142325
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#1524 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:10
Talking to foreign media
 
 
is ''haram''
 
- Saudi Grand Mufti

 
Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has issued a religious edict prohibiting contact and cooperation with foreign media outlets seeking to “spread chaos and strife in Muslim lands.”

He urged people instead to address their concerns through writing directly to responsible authorities.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh told worshipers during a Friday sermon held in a mosque in the capital Riyadh that people should not contact foreign media outlets to “divulge the country’s secrets or address various matters” because these outlets “are only concerned with dividing people and striking the unity of the nation.”

He said doing so was tantamount to “treason and major crime.”

The kingdom’s Grand Mufti warned against covering up or sheltering criminals who threaten the country’s security. “It is not permissible and is considered betrayal and assistance to the enemies of Islam.”

“A believer has to help keeping security, that of his nation and community, and protecting his religion,” he said, as quoted by the Saudi daily newspaper Okaz.

He also said that people working in public institutions should protect the secrets of their professions.

http://english.alarabiya.net/article...11/248823.html
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#1525 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:11
A lucrative black magic market

Many black magic practitioners
had arrived in the Kingdom on pilgrimage visa

11 November 2012 - 26 Thul-Hijjah 1433 H

The Ministry of Justice has released statistics on black magic cases its courts reviewed this year.

According to the report, Arab black magic practitioners arrested over these cases hailed primarily from six countries: Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Palestine. Black magic practitioners from Asia hailed from eight East Asian countries while those from Africa came from three African countries.

Based on this report, Indonesians do not dominate this craft as previously believed; it is the Sudanese. About 45 percent of the black magic cases the courts looked into this year involved Sudanese nationals.

What is really frightening about this report is the fact that 88.6 percent of the cases courts in Makkah region considered this year involved non-Saudis and the rest Saudis. This proves that so many people resort to black magic throughout the year. There is a big demand for black magic practitioners in the Kingdom, especially during Haj because many of those people arrested had arrived in the country on pilgrimage visas. Most of them pretend that they want to perform Haj and get visas to enter the country. This means that every Haj season we will see many of them here.

My question is: Why does the number of these black magic practitioners increase every year? Why has the demand for them gone up?

A reporter once asked a narcotic farm’s owner in South America about the losses he sustained after President George Bush Snr. declared a war on drugs. His answer was: “The extensive mass media campaign has made our profits multiply because our sales in fact increased following this media spotlight. More people now know about drugs.”

Do we now have a bigger market for black magic practitioners because the media gave too much attention to the issue? Or is there another reason that needs to be explored? We should find out the reasons behind these people coming to the holy places to perform black magic (which Islam denounces as one of the seven mortal sins).

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121111142433
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#1526 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:15

Holy Mosque in Makkah









 

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#1527 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:18
Report evaluates conduct of Haj


Pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand Mosque during Tawaf al-Wadaa (Farewell Tawaf)
on the last days of the annual Haj pilgrimage in Makkah on Oct. 29, 2012. (Reuters)
11 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 26, 1433

JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal stressed the need for all departments and agencies serving the Haj pilgrims to review and update their plans continuously in a meeting of the Central Haj Committee in Makkah on Saturday.

“The committee meets every year at this time to review the reports on the conduct of the Haj. The positive aspects are reinforced and further developed while the negative aspects are corrected and prevented to occur in future,” said the prince, who is also chairman of the Central Haj Committee.
The meeting also wanted to review the high cost of domestic Haj service.
The prince said the committee would hold periodic meetings through out the year to monitor the preparations for the next Haj season.

A few of the positive aspects registered in the season were the absence of contagious diseases and accidents, uninterrupted availability of services and utilities to pilgrims in Makkah and the holy sites, the smooth arrival and departure of pilgrims at the Kingdom’s entry points especially at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

The report also noted that the new tunnels in the holy sites helped a lot in thinning crowds and averting stampedes at the Jamarat, where pilgrims throw stones at pillars. The inspection of buildings that needed to accommodate more than two million pilgrims was completed well ahead of time, the report said. Other achievements of the Haj this year included the reduced traffic congestion in Makkah because of permitting only buses at locations close to the Haram area. Another achievement was the partial opening of the Haram Mosque Expansion Project for worshippers.

Most notable unpleasant development during the Haj, according to the report, was the increase in the number of unregistered pilgrims who slept on pavements leading to the holy sites and at empty spaces close to the Grand Mosque. They resorted to various ploys to enter the locations of Haj.
Their sheer number was an obstacle to offer the highest level of services to the legitimate pilgrims, the committee noted.

Although the illegal pilgrims caused a challenge to keep the holy sites clean at the desired level, the environment was kept cleaner than the past seasons, the report said.

The illegal pilgrims caused crowding at toilets and obstructed a smooth flow of traffic. There was a notable increase in the number of beggars and street vendors who sold unhygienic meals. The number of motorcyclists, who smuggled illegal pilgrims to the holy sites, was also on the rise during the season.

Undersecretary at the Ministry of Haj Eisa Rowas said in a statistical report presented to the prince that 938,000 pilgrims left the country until Friday. He added that while 655,000 pilgrims left from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the rest boarded their planes from Prince Muhammad International Airport in Madinah.

The meeting recommended further raising of the level of pilgrim service, increasing facilities to check pilgrims at the entry points to Makkah and the holy sites, implementation of the fourth phase of the chain bus service to the Grand Mosque, improvements in Muzdalifa and commissioning the first phase of a toilet project in the holy sites. The committee also stressed the need to make more land available to accommodate more pilgrim tents in Mina.

http://www.arabnews.com/report-evaluates-conduct-haj




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#1528 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:20
Haj agency acts to
 
thwart overstayers

 
12 November 2012 - 27 Thul-Hijjah 1433 H

JEDDAH – The United Agents Office has adopted a new strategy to prevent pilgrims from overstaying their Haj visas.

The office said it was comparing names on lists of pilgrims leaving the country with lists of names in the arrival phase with the cooperation of various authorities at 16 different exit points from the Kingdom, including airports, seaports and border posts.

Saleh Abu Zeid of the United Agents Office in Madinah said the office is the authority responsible for receiving and seeing off pilgrims at airports and seaports as well as border points.

He said Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah is playing an important role in reducing pressure on King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah during the departure stage for pilgrims.

He said the branch office in Madinah is similar to the head office in Jeddah. Its function is to decrease the waiting period for pilgrims, prevent crowding and facilitate their procedures to enable them to return to their countries.

Muhammad Noor Turki, in charge of the land crossing points in the office, said the employees oversee the final stages for pilgrims’ departure. They also ensure that all the service charges have been paid to Tawafa establishments. They make sure the pilgrims’ luggage has been loaded and departure procedures completed in the same speed as they were received.

He said the office makes arrangements for transporting the pilgrims’ luggage when they reach the border posts.

The office also receives the passports from them so as to complete their travel procedures and register the required data. These include the pilgrim’s name, nationality, passport number, embarkation point, the means of transport, the port of entry, his Tawafa establishment, date of arrival and date of departure. All these are carried out in coordination with the Passport Department.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121112142568


Board of Tawafa Est.
for South Asian pilgrims dissolved

11 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 26, 1433

JEDDAH: Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar has ordered the dissolution of the current board of directors of the Tawafa Establishment for South Asian Pilgrims. He also announced a new board.

The minister appointed Ra'afat Ismael Badr as chairman and Osama Abdullah Danish and Zaki Omar Hariri as deputies.

The new board members are Shaikh Safi Jamal Allail, Hashim Abdurrahman Shali, Khalid Sami Mohammad Hussain, Mohammad Saleh Sa'ati, Adel Abdullah Attas, Alawi Mohammad Saeed Kamil, Mohammad Ameen Attas, Naif Siraj Akbar and Omar Siraj Akbar.

Hajjar said the current board will continue its work until the new board receives its mandate.

The minister also reappointed a new disciplinary board and its secretariat.

The new disciplinary board will be chaired by Sahl Abdullah Sabban under the minister of Haj for transportation, projects and holy sites. His deputy is Abdullah Marghalani, director of ministry of Haj office in Jeddah. Members of the disciplinary board are judge Obaid Abdullah Al-Obaid, representative of Court of Grievances; Salah Saqur, representative of the Ministry of Interior; and Ayman Ibrahim Al-Qurashi, legal adviser in the ministry of Haj. The new board will start working from 1/1/1434. Its mandate will on 30/12/1435.

The secretariat of the disciplinary board will be headed by Basem Mohammad Saeed, a legal researcher at the Ministry of Haj. The secretary is Thamer Al-Otaibi and Khalid Al-Harbi in the data entry.

The Ministry of Haj had successfully capped plenty of paper work that would have taken colossal amounts of time and effort on the part of staff to transfer pilgrims from Makkah to Madinah. In the past, papers used to circulate among the Ministry of Haj, Tewafa companies, car unions, transportation companies and guidance offices in Madinah.

The ministry also succeeded in transferring a greater number of pilgrims from their accommodation in Makkah to Medina in comparison to previous years thanks to the new electronic systems installed this year. The bus-registering procedure now takes no more than three minutes.

“The great efforts made by everybody since the end of the last season ended with an achievement that we all are proud of,” said Essa Rawas, a Haj Ministry official.

He said that the old system was slow and caused inaccuracy in the exchange of information. He added that workshops conducted by the ministry helped it to come up with an accurate, secure and fast electronic system.

He said that all tewafa companies now are linked with guidance offices and a car union in Madinah through the Internet.

“This helps us to determine the exact number of seats needed to transfer pilgrims from Makkah to Madinah according to electronic orders coming from tewafa companies in the field."

http://www.arabnews.com/board-tawafa...rims-dissolved
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#1529 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:21
Jeddah hospitals struggling
 
to cope with post-Haj illnesses

 
11 November 2012 | Dzulhijjah 26, 1433

JEDDAH: Many hospitals and polyclinics in Jeddah are struggling to cope with patients suffering from post-Haj related illnesses. Doctors, and general physicians are preoccupied with treating patients experiencing respiratory infections, as well as other communicable diseases common during Haj season.

Post Haj illnesses are a common phenomenon that Jeddah residents experience annually, whether the illness is due to residents performing Haj, receiving pilgrims or due to sheer proximity to the holy sites.

Expatriate residents, receiving visiting pilgrims have also been busy attending to their sick pilgrims and providing medical attention to them. There is a surge of outpatients in nearly 100% of the polyclinics in Jeddah, and the situation may persist for another two weeks. Physicians and paramedics attending to the sick patients also fall sick sometimes, due to heavy exposure to infections and viruses, as their immunity weakens.

The Saudi Ministry of Health, has demonstrated it’s commitment to mitigating health diseases during Haj by providing great medical care to the pilgrims, and by taking all the necessary precautionary health measures. However, the intensely crowded conditions of Haj, as natives from more than 150 countries converge in the holy sites, still poses health issues, with respiratory infections most common among patients.

Symptoms of illness usually appear at the end of the Haj season, characterized by coughing, sore throat, fever, fatigue, and malaise.

If coughing persists for several weeks, accompanied by purulent sputum, it is recommended to visit a doctor, as it could be an indication of a superimposed bacterial infection.

According to a report by Dr. Abdulaziz H. Alzeer of King Khalid University Hospital in Riyadh, 1 in 3 pilgrims experience respiratory infections during Haj season.

Haj pilgrims are given three vaccines: the meningococcal vaccine, which is mandatory for all Haj pilgrims to protect against meningitis; the seasonal influenza vaccine, which is essential to reduce the risk of flu; and the pneumococcal vaccine, which is required for people with heart, kidney and liver diseases, to protect them against pneumococcal diseases. All pilgrims are required to get immunizations, 14 days or more, prior to their arrival to the Kingdom, as it is a mandatory condition for obtaining their Haj visa.

Meningitis and seasonal influenza vaccines are also administered concurrently to residents.

Health issues vary from one pilgrim to the other, depending on their country of origin. For instance, African pilgrims suffer from yellow fever, whereas that type of illness is not found among Asian pilgrims. Pilgrims from Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, which comprise nearly half of the foreign pilgrims, typically experience common cold symptoms and pharyngitis, upon arrival in the Kingdom. Pilgrims from these countries have exclusive medical facilities for their Haj missions in Makkah and Madinah.

In addition, a total of 25 hospital and 141 medical clinics were established by the Saudi Ministry of Health, to attend to pilgrims in the holy cities.

http://www.arabnews.com/jeddah-hospi...-haj-illnesses
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#1530 [Permalink] Posted on 13th November 2012 04:23
Saudi refuses $4 million
 
 
for sacred stone

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Saudi man on a hunting trip in the rugged mountains near the border with Yemen stumbled across a little dark stone, which he instantly recognized as that mentioned in the holy Koran. A year later, he was offered $four million for the stone but he refused.

Saleh Musfer Al Gamdi said the stone, which carries drawings of birds and elephants, weighs 131 gm, exactly the same number of words in the Koran verse that mentioned the stone-- “Surat Al Fil (elephant).”

According to that verse, God the Almighty sent Ababil birds to throw Sejil stones (pebbles of hell) to destroy an army led by Yemen’s warlord Abraha just before the advent of Islam to knock down Kaaba in Makkah, now the Moslems’ holiest shrine.

Gamdi said he found the hard black-grayish stone in the southern Jarb valley, previously known as the Green Wadi, where Abraha and his soldiers and elephants stayed for a period of time before heading for Makkah.

 

He said experts estimated that the stone dates back to nearly 1,442 years, adding that he found it just a day after dreaming of his father and grandfather.

“A year after I found the stone, I asked an Egyptian friend whose relatives work in the archeology field…they contacted me and asked me to send them pictures of that stone,” Gamdi said, quoted by the Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq.

“After a series of messages and phone calls, they told me they would buy the stone for $four million but I refused to sell it….a while later, the tourism department in Baha (southern Saudi Arabia) asked me to hand the stone over but I again refused.”

The story of Abraha begins when he feels envy of the town of Makkah in Saudi Arabia because Kaaba (House) was visited by many Arabs who wanted to make the pilgrimage every year before Islam. He has a great desire to destroy and divert Arab worshippers to Yemen, which has a large temple built by Abraha.

Before the offensive on Mecca, he first sent a messenger to inform them of his aims and desires. The messenger was suggested for the people of Mecca to perform their pilgrimage in Yemen only. If not, then the Kaaba will be destroyed.

Because they were disobedient, finally Abraha was really mad and ordered all troops to be getting ready to attack Mecca and destroy the Kaaba.

Abraha's army had complete war equipment, armour, and the elephants that will be used to knock down kaaba. Abraha told the messenger that the purpose of attack is not intended to fight, but just wanted to destroy the Kaaba.

At that time Mecca residents, led by Abdul Muttalib could not do anything to stop Abraha. There was no choice but to surrender and give up.

Some time before the arrival of Abraha’s army, Abdul Muttalib instructed his people to shelter and evacuate immediately behind the hill near Mecca.

Abraha was convinced that he will be able to destroy the Kaaba very easily. But what happens next? God's help arrived according to the Koran. These birds threw many, many stones of baked clay at the elephants and the people, which led to their defeat and destruction before they manage to knock down Kaaba.

http://www.emirates247.com/news/regi...11-11-1.482567

 
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