China Issues Muslim Hajj Travel Regulations

Chinese hajj Pilgrims (photo: Courtesy)

Beijing, MINA – The Chinese government released a regulation on Hajj-related matters for Muslim citizens on Monday. Rules are made to ensure travel safety and provide better service.

The regulation has a total of 42 articles regarding the administration of affairs related to Hajj. One of the reasons is that the Chinese Muslim pilgrimage must be regulated in accordance with the law.

Not only that, the government also established the Chinese Islamic Association as the only organization authorized to organize the travel of Chinese Muslims to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj.

Reported in the Global Times on Tuesday, the government ensures that no other organization or individual can arrange the worship trip. Chinese citizens are also determined to meet the basic requirements when registering for Hajj.

People who go abroad to perform the pilgrimage must obey the laws and regulations of China and the country of destination. The same regulation clearly states against religious extremism. Relevant departments are asked to fulfill their responsibilities and prohibit illegal Hajj activities.

The regulation will come into effect December 1, 2020. The aim is to facilitate the pilgrimage of Chinese Muslims and ensure their safety during the trip.

The 42 articles were issued jointly by eight Chinese Ministries/Agencies. The ministries/agencies in question include; The National Administration of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the National Health Commission, the Central Administration of Customs, the State Administration for Market Regulation, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

A source with knowledge of Hajj-related affairs in China said the Chinese Islamic Association has a separate office for Hajj affairs. This association will take a major role in organizing Hajj.

Other Islamic associations across China are extensions, offering assistance under the guidance of the Chinese Islamic Association in facilitating Hajj procedures for local Muslims.

The Chinese government itself has arranged charter flights every year to fly to Makkah, helping Chinese Muslims perform the pilgrimage.

Historically, Muslims in remote areas of China were poor and few of them were able to perform the Haj. After 1949, due to security concerns, Muslims who wanted to carry out the Hajj gradually turned to local governments and Islamic organizations for help.

Zhu Weiqun, the former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said that in the 1990s China began organizing the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

“The decision to arrange the pilgrimage was welcomed by Muslims in China, as better services were offered during the trip. China’s well-organized annual pilgrimage trip was also welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which faces great pressure on transportation and other infrastructure during the Hajj,” he said.

Muslims contacted by the Global Times also said they welcome organized travel for the pilgrimage, as it helps them avoid language and other problems. During the trip, the government ensured that the congregation was also accompanied by a medical team and cleric. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)