MAKKAH: Haider Hassan Jamel Al-Lail, head of office No. 19 of the Tawafa Establishment for South Asian Pilgrims, is responsible for serving 5,000 pilgrims this year, and will provide pilgrims with four daily meals during Haj from 8 to 12 Dul Hijjah, including tea and coffee.
On the day of Arafat when pilgrims leave their tents in Mina and go to Arafat, they will be supplied with hot meals. His office will also supply packed meals to pilgrims before their departure to Arafat to eat in Muzdalifah. Sleeping arrangements will be made in Muzdalifah, where pilgrims will spend the night after leaving Arafat.
Haidar said a new support service section has been launched by his office. An agreement has been made with the Saudi Arabian Boys Scout Society to supply youths to guide pilgrims in buses in Mina and Arafat, and at the Jamrat Bridge, he said, adding that his office will recruit more Saudi youths to work this year.
He said his office has a 250-strong visitors' lounge equipped with computers, Internet and telecommunications facilities, and that they plan to employ as many Saudi women as possible. There are already 25 women working to prepare and pack snacks for pilgrims, he said.
Helping pilgrims is a tradition that has been carried out by the people of Makkah for hundreds of years. This has been passed from generation to generation. I inherited the profession from my father, and have a special interest in offering the best service possible, he said.
The word Mutawwif has been used since ancient times for anyone who guides a pilgrim to circumambulate the Kaaba, and instructs them to recite prayers and carry out relevant rites within the Grand Mosque.
The guiding of pilgrims was considered a honor even by qadis, religious scholars and the notables of Makkah who kept their houses open around the year for pilgrims who wanted to stay close to the Grand Mosque or students for free. he said.
Later, pilgrims coming from different regions were assigned to different Mutawwifs, he said. There are separate Mutawwifs for pilgrims from India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Europe and America, he added. The Kingdom's founder, King Abdul Aziz, issued a statement to the people of Makkah and its environs, including its population, pilgrims and Bedouins, when he entered Makkah on Dec. 9 1924, said Al-Lail.
The statement, which is known as the Makkah Statement, authorized the religious functionaries in Makkah to continue at their posts, he said, adding that the text authorizing Tawafa establishments and Mutawwifs to continue their service occurs in Article 4 of the Royal Decree published in the first issue of the Umm Al-Qura newspaper on Friday, Dec. 12, 1924.
All religious scholars in this land, service providers in the Grand Mosque and Mutawwifs can continue their service as they used to do in the past with a remuneration, which we will not reduce even if we will not raise it. However, anyone whom the people proved is unfit for this work will not be allowed to work anymore. Similarly, we will grant the right of anyone, who has an eligible claim from the public treasury of Muslims, in full, he said.