In Indonesia’s ‘Makkah porch,’ Hajj rekindles centuries-old bond with Arabia
JAKARTA: As they go away for Hajj, pilgrims from Aceh put together for a transformative and spiritually transferring expertise, which for a lot of of them additionally rekindles a particular, centuries-old connection they really feel for Saudi Arabia.
The westernmost province of Indonesia, Aceh is the location of the earliest Muslim kingdoms in Southeast Asia, which started to type within the late thirteenth century.
It was the final Southeast Asian port of name for pilgrimages to the holiest metropolis of Islam, and within the Seventeenth century courtroom chronicles of Aceh rulers started to confer with it as “Serambi Makkah,” or “Porch of Makkah” — a time period that’s nonetheless utilized by the Acehnese as we speak.
Now, the chance to depart for the actual Makkah and carry out Hajj is one thing they sit up for for years, if not many years.
“In Aceh it’s about 30 to 31 years,” Mizaj Iskandar, who has been tasked by the native authorities with organizing the pilgrimage, instructed Arab Information.
“They’re definitely very emotional as a result of they’ve been ready for therefore lengthy,” he stated. “By the point they obtain the decision, they should be moved, glad, and in disbelief. All these feelings you could find in virtually all of the members.”
One of many pilgrims, 58-year-old Kamariah from Aceh Besar regency, couldn’t discover the phrases to explain how moved she was that she would have the ability to see the Kaaba on the middle of the Grand Mosque, Masjid Al-Haram, in Makkah.
“I don’t know how one can specific how glad I’m to see Kaaba,” she stated. “It seems like I’ll by no means wish to go away it.”
Like different pilgrims, Kamariah has been getting ready for the journey, particularly spiritually.
“Earlier than we go to the holy land, we will need to have already cleansed our hearts,” she stated. “We hope to turn out to be good Hajj pilgrims.”
One among Islam’s 5 pillars of religion, the Hajj was restricted over pandemic fears to only one,000 individuals residing in Saudi Arabia in 2020. In 2021, the Kingdom restricted the pilgrimage to 60,000 home members, in contrast with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million.
However this 12 months, because it has already lifted most of its COVID-19 curbs, Saudi Arabia will welcome 1 million pilgrims from overseas. Greater than 100,000 of them are arriving from Indonesia — the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. And amongst them, 2,022 are from Aceh.
“My household and I’ve not stopped expressing our gratitude to Allah, as a result of we now have been known as this 12 months to go for Hajj,” Amalia Sabrina, a health care provider from Sigli city within the Pidie regency of Aceh, instructed Arab Information.
“I as soon as had a dream of the occasion that has now taken place, and it feels virtually like deja vu to be in the identical place as in that dream.”
She arrived within the Kingdom final week and was having fun with the hospitality with which pilgrims have been obtained.
“Whether or not it’s the lodge service, meals, laundry, service on the outlets, or the individuals,” she stated. “Everybody has been pleasant.”
Sabrina’s youthful brother Miftahul Hamdi, a soccer participant, was additionally grateful to be within the Kingdom.
“I’m so grateful to get this chance to go for Hajj this 12 months,” he stated. “Aceh is also known as a ‘Makkah porch,’ so having the ability to go for Hajj right here is simply very fulfilling and makes me really feel very grateful.”
The keenness Acehnese have for the Hajj pilgrimage, a sacred milestone for Muslims, is bolstered by their historic hyperlinks to Saudi Arabia.
Marzuki Abubakar, researcher and lecturer at Ar-Raniry State Islamic College in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, stated that Islam in Aceh has revolved round Arabia ever since its introduction in Southeast Asia. The coastal area additionally related the remainder of the islands that represent present-day Indonesia with the Center East.
“Aceh was a transit level for Hajj pilgrims to go to Makkah from everywhere in the archipelago,” he stated. “There’s superb enthusiasm amongst Acehnese to go for Hajj.”
What has lately strengthened the bond was the assistance the Acehnese obtained from the Kingdom throughout one of many darkest intervals within the area’s historical past — the 2004 tsunami.
“They’re emotionally connected to Saudi Arabia due to the assistance they obtained after the tsunami,” Abubakar instructed Arab Information.
Saudi Arabia was one the most important single donors to the aid response, when the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami devastated Aceh, killing greater than 160,000 individuals — practically 5 % of the native inhabitants.
Saudi charities helped rebuild homes, medical amenities and the Seventeenth-century Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh — a logo of faith and identification of the Acehnese.
Nurlinda Nurdin, a radio reporter from Banda Aceh, who carried out the pilgrimage in 2006 and spent two months masking Hajj preparations in Saudi Arabia, stated that earlier than the journey she would typically fall ailing, however all her illnesses had been gone when she was there.
“Once I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I used to be at all times wholesome. I used to be absolutely working, didn’t really feel exhausted in any respect, I used to be having fun with myself, I used to be snug,” she instructed Arab Information.
“I simply felt tremendous shut, as if my home was good behind the mountain. My coronary heart was simply comfortable.”