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Saudi Arabia reproaches Kazakhstan for small number of pilgrims

10 september 2011, 13:49
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Photo courtesy of bar-guzin.com
Photo courtesy of bar-guzin.com
Saudi Arabia is blaming Kazakhstan for small amount of people willing to make Hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia), Chairman of Kazakhstan Agency for Religion Kairat Lama Sharif told Tengrinews.kz.

“We have an annual quota for 4 thousand people, even though, according to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, we could obtain a quota for 10 thousand people, based on the number of people that constitute one percent of the Islamic part of the population. Every year we have the problem of not having enough people to fill in the quota and we always hear different reproaches and are getting blamed by the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia for this. Available quotas are not enough Muslims of Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey; many of them have to wait for years. It is vice versa in our country. Some people make the Hajj every year ten times in a row and we do not forbid them,” Lama Sharif said. This year the Ministry of Hajj gave Kazakhstan a quota for 4 thousand people.

According to Kairat Lama Sharif, there is currently a surge of interest to religion in Kazakhstan. “There has never been such thing in Kazakhstan. There are actually many problems in this area. That is why creation of the Agency for Religion was very timely. We are studying different scenarioss of development of various religions,” Lama Sharif commented.

Replying to the questions why there are not many people willing to make a Hajj and if the number of Muslims constantly grows in Kazakhstan, head of the Agency said: “Islam stands on five pillars and Hajj is one of them. But Quran states that Hajj can be made only by those who can afford to it. 70 percent of our residents are Muslims, but not everyone is ready for a Hajj. It is not a tourist attraction. A person has to prepare spiritually. That is why many of our Muslims forego the Hajj.”

Kairat Lama Sharif could not give the number of Kazakhstan residents professing Islam. He said that the Agency has ordered a sociological survey to a private institute to find out the exact number.

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