JEDDAH- Flocking to Mekkah to join hundreds of thousands of forgiveness seekers, more than 11,000 Chinese pilgrims have arrived the holy land to perform hajj and fulfill one of Islam's main pillars.
"Chinese pilgrims have now arrived in Makkah and Madinah. They are all in good health," Mustapha Young Jee Poo, chief of the Chinese Hajj mission was quoted by Arab News.
The Chinese hajj mission announced that 11,800 Chinese pilgrims will perform hajj this year 9,300 pilgrims are in Mekkah and 2,500 in Madinah, he added.
”We commend and appreciate the efforts of the Saudi government for the service to the guests of God,” he added at an event to welcome the Hajj delegation of People’s Republic of China at the Chinese Consulate.
“In particular, we commend the expansion projects being implemented in Makkah and Madinah."
The expansion of the mataf (the circumambulation area in the Grand Mosque) greatly helps to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims, he added.
Distributed among 37 flights, Chinese pilgrims benefited the direct flights of Chinese airlines from Beijing to Madinah, Poo explained.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, which is expected to draw more than 3 million Muslim this year.
Hajj consists of several rituals, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Most pilgrims come earlier to visit the holy mosques in Makkah and nearby Madinah, where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) was buried over 1,400 years ago.
Praising the Saudi's efforts to facilitate Chinese pilgrims journey to the holy sites, the chief of the Chinese hajj mission emphasized that Chinese pilgrims receive support from the very moment they arrive at the Kingdom until they leave.
"Staff at the Ministry of Hajj, the Passports Department, officials at King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad International Airport in Madinah have been cooperative,” Young Jee Poo said.
"Processing was smooth and we faced no difficulties.”
However, officials at Chinese hajj mission expressed their wishes that Saudi authorities would offer 'more space' to accommodate the increasing numbers of pilgrims at the holy land.
"I wish they install more camps. Chinese pilgrims find it difficult to find accommodation because there are not enough camps," Poo said.
"I would recommend that Saudi authorities build two-story camps in order to accommodate as many pilgrims as possible. In addition, there are not enough WCs in the area."
Citing official data, China has 20 million Muslims, most of them are concentrated in Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai regions and provinces.
More than 2.25 million Hui live in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, accounting for more than one-third of the total population of the region.
Smaller Muslim communities can also be found throughout interior China.
Unofficially, Muslim groups say the number is even higher, stating that there are from 65-100 million Muslims in China — up to 7.5 percent of the population.
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