JEDDAH – All Malaysian pilgrims have been vaccinated against the deadly H1N1 virus and other diseases and now feel safe to perform Haj.
Talking to some of the Hajis onboard a recent Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah, Saudi Gazette learned that to qualify for a Haj visa, it is mandatory to have a number of vaccines: Anti-Menningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine ACYW – 135, Infuvac vaccine, and Peneumo 23.
Kamaruddin Abdullah Sai, 57, a retired dental technologist from Selangor, who is accompanied by his wife, sister-in-law and her husband, said the strict Saudi rules for vaccinations had enhanced his respect for Saudi Arabia.
“This shows care and concern for the health and welfare of pilgrims,” he added.
Rozani Saleh, 44, of Kuala Lumpur, who has been teaching commerce at a government school for the last 16 years, said he feels at ease with the mandatory vaccinations.
“It is a good step from the Saudi and Malaysian authorities, in the interests of individual Hajis and for all other pilgrims coming from various parts of the world,” he said.
He said that he came for Umrah two years go, and found good facilities for pilgrims.
“I am excited. Alhamdulillah my dream to perform the Haj has come true,” he said. His wife, Norma, coming for her first Haj, was also excited.
Abdul Dalib Mahmood, 59, of Ledang in Johor, who is on Haj with his wife and sister, said they all feel safe with the vaccinations.
Mahmood, an artillery gunner and Warrant Officer in the Malaysian Army, opened a driving school in his home town after retiring in 1991.
Muhammad Kodry Bin Haj Ridzwan, 58, from Rumah, near Kuala Lumpur, who is accompanied by his wife Tina Safuan is also happy with the plans to counter swine flu.
“The Saudi and Malaysian governments have laid down strict and clear guidelines for the health, safety and security of pilgrims,” he said.
“I am very excited. It is the journey of a lifetime, an ultimate journey. My dream has come true,” Safuan said and added that she was glad proper vaccinations are administered against diseases.
“It is always good to be prepared to be among a crowd, and there is no bigger and varied gathering than the Haj. It is also our duty to cooperate and help the authorities in containing viruses” she added.
Ridzwan, who has been working in logistics at Petronas for the last three years, has spent 35 years flying transport aircraft for the Malaysian Air Force.
He said that Saudi Arabia is a big country, with a strong standing and reputation in the Muslim world.
“As a pillar of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), it can do much for the Muslim Ummah at the United Nations and other international forums,” he said.
Ridzwan, who performed Umrah with his wife in 2006, said Madinah is a well-planned city and a prime example of urban planning. “Makkah, because of its geographic location amid hills and mountains, presents many challenges.
But the Saudi authorities are involved in making continuous improvements to provide better facilities and services to the pilgrims. “Mina and Arafat need more facilities. One can understand the constraints imposed by the shortage of space. I hear and read that many projects have been carried out. For example, the Jamaraat area has been made safer for stoning, for which the Saudis deserve thanks from all pilgrims.”
“Successive Saudi Kings have devoted much time, money and effort in developing the Holy Sites and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is shouldering the responsibility not only for the Hajis but for the welfare of the Muslim world at large, in education, social and human resources development,” Ridzwan said.
Saharuddin Omar, 43, of Pahang, a mechanical engineer with Organic Gain Ltd., who also worked for Proton for 10 years, said he performed his first Haj in 2001.
This time he is accompanied by his wife Noorlain, a teacher of Islamic studies at a government school. She said that she was very excited. They both said having vaccinations gave them a “sense of relief.”
All of the Malaysian Hajis received 10 days training in Ledang before departing for the Kingdom. – SG