This is the number of people that Makkah has welcomed for Hajj this year.
Over two million faithful Muslims from all over the world have come to express their faith.
Millions of men and women of Islam have come together to offer their submission to Allah.
A holy journey
Hajj, the yearly pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest city, has called forth multitudes of believers over the years. Muslims strive to be physically and financially able to make this trip at least once in their lifetime.
Robed in their simple white attire, pilgrims flock to the central city of Islam, simultaneously saying their prayers, united as equal brothers and sisters in the eyes of Allah.
The Hajj takes place every end of Dhu al-Hijjah or the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. It is part of the five pillars of Islam that includes shahada (belief in the oneness of God and in Mohammad), salat (worship prayers), zakat (almsgiving), and sawm (fasting).
Making it count
Every year, an astonishing number of people converge in Makkah to take part in this momentous event. One of the world’s largest gatherings, it requires considerable effort on the part of the government ministry tasked to oversee and manage the occasion.
For the year 1439H in the Islamic calendar, the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially released the figures that will further guide future preparations. These statistics are crucial in planning for the care and welfare of the pilgrims during their Hajj visit.
Here are some of the jaw-dropping numbers, as well as other general nuggets of information, that make the Hajj pilgrimage a global event of epic proportions:
- 100 Billion for Masjid Al-Haram
The Grand Mosque sits at the heart of Makkah where pilgrims say their prayers around the clock.
Over the centuries, it has gone through renovations and enhancements. It has indoor and outdoor spaces that cover a total of 400,800 square metres of space. According to The Telegraph in its World’s Most Expensive Buildings report, the sacred mosque’s total cost of construction is $100 billion.
There are nearby hotels in Makkah near Al-Haram that offer exquisite experiences to heighten one’s Hajj journey. Travellers can ensconce themselves in a cocoon of comfort and convenience when staying at one of these well-appointed accommodations.
- 8 Million Litres of Zamzam Water
Located within the walls of Al-Hara, the Well of Zamzam is said to have sprung thousands of years ago. According to Islamic mythology, God miraculously made this well to quench the thirst of Ibrahim’s infant son Isma’il when he was left in the desert with his mother.
Today, this well of natural spring water is distributed to pilgrims through drinking fountains and roving containers. It is offered in the holy mosques through sterilized containers – with 2 million disposable cups used daily. This 2018, pilgrims are reported to have consumed 8,505,623 litres during the Hajj season.
- 13 Million Loaves of Bread and Pastries
Along with millions of litres of water, the Ministry of Trade and Investment also provided 13 million loaves of pastries and bread to pilgrims. This is in addition to the four million meals and 2.3 million ready-made “happy meals” that were also made available to Hajj devotees.
Travellers to Makkah can also enjoy sumptuous fare in restaurants near Al-Haram including new hotel dining destinations and family-friendly lounges where traditional tea is served.
- 1 Million Sheep
One million sheep are slaughtered in preparation for the Hajj season. In just 48 hours, the meat is cut, packed, frozen, and distributed to beneficiaries from around the globe by the Islamic Development Bank Group which has taken on the responsibility of carrying out the odhiyaritual from beginning to end.
This also ensures that the meat has passed stringent Shariah and health standards before it is given away to the needy in holy sites like the Grand Mosque as well as in other charitable Muslim communities.
The sheep sacrifice is part of the sacred rituals observed during the Eid Al-Adha. This is to commemorate Ibrahim’s readiness to sacrifice his son Isma’il to God before a lamb replaced it.
- SR22 Million for Kaaba’s Kiswa
Made out of 670 kilograms of pure silk dyed in black, 100 kilograms of silver thread, and 120 kilograms of gold thread, the kiswa – the intricately embroidered cloth that covers the Ka’aba in the Grand Mosque – costs 22 million riyals or $5.9 million.
Made by 160 skilled technicians, this cloth weighing over one tonne and emblazoned with Quranic verses, is replaced annually.
More than the numbers
Mind-blowing statistics and jaw-dropping facts aside, the Hajj is a sacred voyage of devotion. Its meaning lies beyond what is seen by the naked eye. Its significance is felt and truly ingrained in one’s soul.
More than the number of people, the amount spent, or the figures involved, the Hajj is a shining beacon of faith and devotion. It is an exhibition of equality in the eyes of God. It is a symbol of a continuing journey that ultimately leads to the loving arms of Allah.
Mohammed Ghanem is the General Manager of Shaza Hotel in the Makkah Governorate in Saudi Arabia. The newly opened 5-star Shaza Makkah is an intimate cocoon of serenity and contemplation to compose oneself for all that life’s greatest journey would require.