254 pilgrims depart on first Umrah flight

National 3 minutes, 17 seconds


A TOTAL of 254 pilgrims departed for Saudi Arabia – through Straits Central Agencies (B) Sdn Bhd – yesterday to perform Umrah.

The pilgrims, the first batch of Umrah pilgrims from Brunei this year (1436 Hijrah), flew on Royal Brunei flight BI081 to Jeddah.

More Bruneian pilgrims are now looking at Umrah to perform ibadah at Mekah and Madinah following the quota limitation for Haj.

The Haj quota for Bruneian pilgrims is currently fixed at 400 due to the ongoing upgrading project of the two Mosques – Masjidil Haram in Mekah and Masjid Nabawi in Madinah.

Abdul Ghani Hj Matusin is heading a group of 12 people, comprising family members to perform the pilgrimage.

This is his fifth time performing Umrah. Some from his group have performed Umrah before, while it will be the first for others.

The group’s youngest member is 14 years old and the oldest is his 60-year-old mother-in-law.

“December is the school holidays so we decided to bring the children to perform Umrah, to bring them to Masjid Nabawi and Mekah, and to perform ibadah (religious deeds),” he said. “Alhamdulilah we have the rezeki to perform Umrah. If possible, we want to do it every year.”

Asked whether there are plans in the near future to perform Haj, Abdul Ghani said they have applied to perform Haj, but are on the waiting lists.

“We prayed that we would have the rezeki to perform Haj. InsyaAllah, we will have our chance,” he said.

For Hj Serbini@bini Sunggoh, this year marked his 27th time performing Umrah.

Accompanied by seven of his children and grandchildren, the 80-year-old said he wanted to perform Haj and Umrah every year because he would feel that something is missing if he did not go.

Hj Serbini has also performed Haj 26 times, his first in 1971. The last time he performed the pilgrimage was in 2007.

He added Masjidil Haram in Mekah is always on his mind and he dreams of going again and again.

“Now I am not feeling well... My children asked me not to go but I am tawakal (to submit ourselves in to Allah and to trust in Him) to Allah SWT,” he said.

Meanwhile, a first-timer in performing Umrah said it was his intention to go to the Holy Land (tanah suci). He will be performing Umrah with his wife and two children.

“We want to see how it really is over there and we want to be closer to Allah SWT,” said the 46-year-old father of six who opted for anonymity.

“The plan was to bring my eldest son to perform Umrah because he just recently graduated and coincidently my second child is also on semester break. Alhamdulilah, we can bring them both. I wish that we could take all of them, but that is not possible,” he said.

“Hopefully everything will run smoothly. Hopefully our health will allow us to perform Umrah to its fullest. InsyaAllah, with all the doa (supplications) from our family members and friends, we all (the pilgrims) will come home with Umrah that is accepted by Allah SWT,” he said.

The pilgrims were led by Straits Central Agencies’ (SCA) Operations Manager Hj Rafiuddin Hj Nooruddin.

They will be in Mekah and Madinah for 12 days to perform their Umrah rituals and obligations before returning to Brunei on December 28, said a statement from SCA.

The statement added, “The departure was the inaugural exclusive Umrah flight for SCA and RB’s collaborative effort which marks the opening of the Umrah season for 1436H.”

Charge D’ Affairs for the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Tariq Mohammad Ali Bahhah, was present to see off the pilgrims.

Also in attendance were Royal Brunei officials led by Head of Commercial Services Joan Lim; Country Manager Brunei Evelyn Ang and Sales Officer Hj Mohd Shamiruddin Hj Sharbini.

A ‘Doa Selamat’ was led and recited by Imam Hj Ahmad Tarmizi upon departure at Brunei International Airport for a safe and blessed journey.

The Brunei Times