Posts Tagged ‘hajj’

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Improper pilgrimage profits: selling hajj visas

October 16, 2011

In a scandal that reaches into the Saudi embassy in South Africa, an undisclosed number of South African hajj operators are under investigation by the South African Haj & Umrah Council (SAHUC) for selling visas to people outside of South Africa’s hajj quota who have not been properly accredited to participate in the hajj.

During an Oct. 5 broadcast, SAHUC secretary general Shaheen Essop told Radio Islam that the matter “goes beyond a hajj scandal; it’s actually a disgrace.”  Take a listen to this three-minute exchange:

Apparently, the hajj operators were bringing paperwork on behalf of non-accredited hujjaj (pilgrims) to the Saudi embassy in South Africa for visas to be issued.  When pressed by the Radio Islam interviewer on whether Saudi embassy employees were involved in the improper visa issuance (which they most certainly were), Essop carefully avoided implicating the Saudis, saying that SAHUC’s investigation will not penetrate the Saudi embassy due to an “administrative issue related to that.”  However, Essop did disclose later in the interview that the Saudi embassy is conducting an internal investigation.

Selling hajj visas for trade is considered impermissible, although the hajj is well-known to produce enormous annual business for tourism and hospitality sectors both in and outside Saudi Arabia.  Hajj swindles have already been uncovered this year in Tajikstan and Lebanon.

Although the hajj will not take place until early November this year, many South African Muslims, including ones who improperly purchased their visas, have already departed for Saudi Arabia.

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Muslim advice to mourning daughter: pay Islamic taxes in honor of your dead parents

December 17, 2009

An anonymous writer seeking to help her friend whose parents apparently died before conducting the hajj contacted a Muslim-American newspaper in Anaheim, California.  She wanted to know if the hajj could be performed in her parents’ behalf.

InFocus News (IFN) published its answer earlier this month.  After addressing the hajj question, IFN’s “religious advisory board” couldn’t resist adding this unsolicited extra instruction:

It is highly encouraged to offer Sadaqa, Zakat, Udhiya, and perpetual Du`aa’ Maghfira (forgiveness) on behalf of your deceased parents. Rituals performed by a child on behalf of a deceased parent are among the few blessings that continue to count in the book of the deceased even after they have passed.

Zakat is Islam’s compulsory wealth tax of 2½ percent.  Sadaqa is giving beyond that minimum.  (Udhiya is blood sacrifice of an animal, but we’ll leave that aside.)  How would you like it if you wrote a Christian publication for advice on coping with the loss of your parents, and you were instructed to pay extra taxes on their behalf?

It is worth repeating that the beneficiaries of zakat aren’t just charities or the poor.  It has been well-established through the Koran 9:60 and interpretations of Islamic scholars over the centuries that jihad is a legal use for zakat and sadaqa revenues.  (Incidentally, comparing the zakat to Christian tithing is inappropriate for the reason explained on our FAQ page here.)

One hopes that the SoCal readers of this newspaper ignored the advice to give the zakat, which all too often continues to be funneled through Islamic charities in the United States to terrorist organizations abroad.

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Hajj is cash cow for Saudis

December 8, 2009

This weekend Gulf News reported that the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca accounts for 7 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product.  That’s saying a lot considering Arabia’s massive, oil-enriched GDP.

So today’s post is not about jihad or terrorist financing.  Instead, its about the massive moneymaker that the hajj has become, particularly in terms of zakat payments to the Saudi government.

How does the hajj generate tax revenues for Saudi Arabia?  All the businesses and individuals that cater to the pilgrims (including airports, hotels, retailers, etc) are making income from the hajj.  Saudi Arabia, with its Islamic zakat tax, collects 2½ percent of individual Saudi wealth including anything that was generated from the hajj industry.  Here are the details:

According to a field study, the monetary value of activities related to the Haj and Umrah exceeds $30 billion (Dh110.2 billion).

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