Over 5,000 volunteers in action to serve Guests of God


Saudi Gazette

— Islam is a religion which considers serving people and giving them succor as a great worship to God. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that those who are keen to alleviate the suffering of people are very dearer to Allah. Needless to say then about the rewards for serving the Guests of God.

There were more than 5,000 volunteers, who rendered selfless and dedicated services to the Guests of God during the recent annual pilgrimage of Haj. Almost all of them worked in complete coordination and support of the Indian Haj Mission, headed by Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh and Deputy Consul General and Haj Consul Mohammad Shahid Alam, apart from the Saudi authorities and agencies associated with the Haj operation. Within a few days after the pilgrims started to arrive, the consul general convened a meeting of leaders of all the major organizations on July 27 to review their preparations and arrangements to serve the pilgrims in coordination with the Haj mission. This meeting, organized by IPWF, was instrumental in streamlining the voluntary service of these organizations in order for their services to benefit not only Indian pilgrims but to pilgrims from all over the world.

There were thousands of volunteers in action to render help to Haj pilgrims at the holy sites of Mina and Arafat as well as at airports and holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah ever since their arrival in the holy land until their departure. This time, the presence of a large number of women and children was especially noticeable. These volunteers belonged to different Indian social, cultural and religious forums and organizations, such as the Indian Pilgrims Welfare Forum (IPWF), Jeddah Haj Welfare Forum, Haj Cells of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Center (KMCC), India Fraternity Forum (IFF), Risala Study Circle, Overseas Indian Cultural Congress, and the Indian Dawa Center (IDC). Their services included distributing rice soup, assisting weak and elderly pilgrims to reach their tents after performing stoning ritual, helping them to perform stoning, providing wheel chair help for those who are unable to walk, guiding those who lost their way or got separated from their mahrams, and providing of medical services by taking the sick pilgrims to hospitals.

The credit for fielding the largest number of volunteers went to the Haj Cell of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Center (KMCC), which had mobilized as many as 2,500 volunteers from all over the Kingdom. Women volunteers, students’ wing, medical team with ambulance service, and teams to distribute rice soup among the pilgrims were the major highlight of the KMCC Haj cell.

India Fraternity Forum had also a strong presence at the holy sites with their volunteers exceeding 1,200. IFF began the Haj service by conducting awareness classes, educating the pilgrims on performing the rituals of Haj in a safe and healthy environment in various cities in different states of India well before starting their lifetime journey. It has compiled the Haj guide that provided the details about health and safety tips to help perform the rituals in ease and comfort. Before deploying the volunteers to the designated locations in the holy sites, they were given all necessary training for locating the tents and to help guide lost or stranded pilgrims to their destination very easily.

Risala Study Circle (RSC) deployed around 1,000 volunteers to serve the Haj pilgrims. They came from various regions of the Kingdom after receiving intensive training in offering various types of voluntary services. They were involved in dedicated and selfless services in supporting the pilgrims in different ways. The volunteers distributed over 4,000 umbrella hats among the pilgrims. They were instrumental in locating a missing woman pilgrim at Al-Jisr Hospital. The volunteers, who were equipped with updated map of Mina, guided many pilgrims who lost their way or got separated from their mahrams into their camps.

Jeddah Haj Welfare Forum, an umbrella organization of all Keralite organizations in Jeddah, fielded 650 volunteers. It deployed volunteers in 30 locations to guide pilgrims who lost their way. There were a number of teams at major hospitals at the holy sites to serve the pilgrims. The volunteers distributed more than 10,000 packets of rice soup and pickles, and around 8,000 packets of bread and curry at the pilgrims tents in Mina.

Overseas Indian Cultural Congress (OICC) had its presence with more than 250 volunteers. They offered various types of services for the pilgrims. It is for the first time that OICC volunteers were serving pilgrims in Haj after creating its own volunteer cell.

Thanima Cultural Forum and Jeddah Islamic Dawa Council (IDC) were among the other organizations that rendered volunteering service during the Haj days. IDC volunteers distributed over 7,000 packets of rice soup and 15,000 packets of juice, laban (fermented milk) and mineral water among the pilgrims.