GENERAL SANTOS City – The 30 Filipino pilgrims who recently performed Hajj under the “Hajj Hosting Program of the Guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” thanked to Saudi’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud for enabling them to perform pilgrimage to the Holy Cities of Makah and Madinah.
Under-Secretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said, “Our profound gratitude to King Salman for the opportunity given to us to perform the fifth pillar of Islam.”
Lagunzad III is one of the three Filipino reverts to Islam and the highest Philippine government official and who were served by the King’s hosting program in this year’s hajj season.
Sharief M. Dares, a guest pilgrim from Lanao del Sur said “It is the most memorable journey I had been for my whole life,” and added “I would like to thank the Almighty for giving me the chance to perform Hajj through the said program.”
The Filipino guest pilgrims expressed their gratitude to King Salman and the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Abdullah bin Nasser Albusairy for facilitating their spiritual journey.
The Filipino guest pilgrims were also grateful to the General Supervisor of the Guest Program of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, H. E. Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh, Minister of Religious Affairs, Call and Guidance.
In his message, the Religious Affairs Minister said that the keenness of the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman to support constant communication between Islamic nation’s peoples, their leaders and scholars and bolstering fraternal ties among them.
The pilgrims further conveyed their thanks and appreciation to Sheikh Faris Almutairi, Saudi Embassy’s Religious Attaché, as well as to the embassy personnel for their guidance and coordination for the smooth processing of the documentary requirements enabling them acquire the Hajj visas.
On his part, Datu Salman Sapal, Sultan sa Biwang and a staunch advocate against illegal drugs and violent extremism said “It is indeed a great fulfilment for us Muslims to complete the fifth pillar of Islam and that is to perform Hajj.”
Sapal wished that the Almighty will reciprocate the kindness and benevolence of King Salman for initiating the free Hajj program.
The Filipino guest pilgrims noted the warm welcome and accommodation accorded on them by the officials and members of the Hajj hosting program.
A revert to Islam who actively engages in da’wah activity, John Paul Quiano, said “May this program of the King continue and that more Muslims from around the globe will be served to help realize their lifetime dream to perform Hajj.”
The guest pilgrims were also given the opportunity to visit sacred and tourist destination sites.
They were accommodated in a world class hotels with abundant provisions of food, drinks and even load for their mobile units. With the special treatment accorded on them, the guest pilgrims were able to perform the rituals with ease.
For more than two decades of the Hajj hosting program, there were more than 42,000 guest pilgrims from more than 80 countries who were served.
This year, there were around 3,300 men and women who performed Umrah and Hajj. It included 1,000 families of martyrs of Egyptian Armed Forces.
The program aims to provide opportunity to those who cannot afford to perform Hajj and unite the Muslims from all over the world.
Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is required to those can afford and in good physical condition.