In Indonesia’s ‘Makkah porch,’ Hajj rekindles centuries-old bond with Arabia
JAKARTA: As they depart for Hajj, pilgrims from Aceh put together for a transformative and spiritually shifting 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 positioning 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 check with it as “Serambi Makkah,” or “Porch of Makkah” — a time period that’s nonetheless utilized by the Acehnese right now.
Now, the chance to depart for the actual Makkah and carry out Hajj is one thing they look ahead to 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, advised Arab Information.
“They’re actually 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, completely happy, and in disbelief. All these feelings yow will discover in nearly all of the individuals.”
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 heart of the Grand Mosque, Masjid Al-Haram, in Makkah.
“I don’t know the right way to specific how completely happy I’m to see Kaaba,” she stated. “It looks like I’ll by no means need to depart it.”
Like different pilgrims, Kamariah has been getting ready for the journey, particularly spiritually.
“Earlier than we go to the holy land, we should have already cleansed our hearts,” she stated. “We hope to develop into good Hajj pilgrims.”
One among Islam’s 5 pillars of religion, the Hajj was restricted over pandemic fears to only one,000 folks dwelling in Saudi Arabia in 2020. In 2021, the Kingdom restricted the pilgrimage to 60,000 home individuals, in contrast with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million.
However this yr, 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 have now been referred to as this yr to go for Hajj,” Amalia Sabrina, a physician from Sigli city within the Pidie regency of Aceh, advised Arab Information.
“I as soon as had a dream of the occasion that has now taken place, and it feels nearly 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 folks,” 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 yr,” he stated. “Aceh is sometimes called a ‘Makkah porch,’ so with 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 strengthened 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 wonderful enthusiasm amongst Acehnese to go for Hajj.”
What has not too long ago 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 advised Arab Information.
Saudi Arabia was one the most important single donors to the reduction response, when the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami devastated Aceh, killing greater than 160,000 folks — almost 5 p.c of the native inhabitants.
Saudi charities helped rebuild homes, medical services and the Seventeenth-century Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh — a logo of faith and id of the Acehnese.
Nurlinda Nurdin, a radio reporter from Banda Aceh, who carried out the pilgrimage in 2006 and spent two months protecting Hajj preparations in Saudi Arabia, stated that earlier than the journey she would usually fall sick, however all her illnesses had been gone when she was there.
“Once I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I used to be all the time wholesome. I used to be totally working, didn’t really feel exhausted in any respect, I used to be having fun with myself, I used to be comfy,” she advised Arab Information.
“I simply felt tremendous shut, as if my home was good behind the mountain. My coronary heart was simply relaxed.”