NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – For the first time ever, Kenya is sending a record number 4,500 Muslims to Makkah for Hajj, among them an elderly man who has been saving up for 15 years to make the pilgrimage.
“I promised myself that I will not leave this world before making the trip to Makkah,” Abdi Mohammed, 62, told Anadolu Agency. “I have been selling spices in Eastleigh –also known as little Mogadishu – for over 15 years now. Business has not always been good. Sometimes I had to sleep hungry, but I always saved in a separate account for this trip.”
“Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, and I am sure once I make the trip, Allah will shower me with blessings for He is Great,” he added.
Mohammed said he started saving while he was still a young man. He said he knows of people who are very old, but are still saving for the trip.
“I know of people who are above 70 [and] are still saving for Hajj,” Mohammed said. “The government should be able to help us so that at least the elderly can be able to make the trip. They should talk to the Saudis to also increase the number of people traveling to Makkah.”
– Hajj quota
Sharriff Hussein, vice chairman of the Kenya Hajj Mission, which is handling the travel of the pilgrims, told Anadolu Agency that all 4,500 slots granted to Kenya have been filled.
“The immigration department at the Saudi Embassy has fully cooperated with us and many Kenyans are traveling to Nairobi to prepare for the trip,” Hussein said.
Hussein said the Kenya Hajj Mission in Nairobi is pleading with the Saudi government to increase the quota for the number of pilgrims by 500.
“We received a message from the Saudi government telling us that the issue is under consideration, but as of now, the situation has not changed,” Hussein said. “The number of Muslims in Kenya is growing very fast [and] that’s why we are asking for additional slots.”
Hassan Omar, a pilgrim from Nairobi, told Anadolu Agency that he is looking forward to make the trip to fulfill his religious obligation.
“I have been saving for two years now and I am glad that I will be able to make the trip, but it saddens me that only 4,500 Kenyans are allowed to make the trip,” Omar said.
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