Surprised and moved to be a guest of Allah along with my parents for our pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” said Muhammad Na'im Naqiuddin Abdul Halim, a graphic design student.

The 21-year-old and only child of Abdul Halim, 61, a retired army officer, and Hasni Hasan, 59, left for the Holy Land early Sunday morning with the first group of 284 Malaysian pilgrims.

They left Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for Madinah on Malaysia Airlines flight MH8056 at 2.05 am on Sunday.

Speaking to Bernama, Muhammad Na’im, who hails from Sungai Petani in Kedah said that he did not believe at first that he had been chosen for the Hajj, but he was very fortunate.

"I only hope for my parents to be selected for the Hajj because of their age, but when I found out that my name was on the list, I bowed my head in gratitude and thought it was a good omen," said the student of Sultan Abdul Halim Mua'dzam Shah International Islamic University (UniSHAMS ), Kuala Ketil, Kedah.

Yaakop Murad, 64, describes the opportunity to perform Hajj as a pride for him as a Muslim who can fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam, not to mention that he was accompanied by his 62-year-old wife Che Sarimah Endud.

"It's exciting. I do not know what to say it. It's a matter of pride to be able to perform Hajj. The children were happy to see us off," said the former medical laboratory technician from the Ministry of Health.

Tabung Haji (TH) group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said a total of 31,600 pilgrims, who are the country's official full quota, will depart for the Holy Land in stages.

He said information about the current weather in Saudi Arabia and other measures had been briefed during the Hajj course, which has been held since the beginning of the year.

"We are emphasising on health care for every pilgrim and also the safety aspect as the temperature is expected to reach 50 degrees Celsius," he said at a press conference here today.

“Any group activities organised by TH will take place at night so that the pilgrims are not exposed to the hot weather. Only in Medina and Mecca, especially during the Masyair which takes place in Arafah, Mudzalifah, and Mina, they will sit in tents and will most probably expose to the hot weather," he said.

He, however, said that TH has a medical team ready for any eventuality and to take care of all pilgrims.

This year, the day of Wuquf, 9 Zulhijah, is expected to fall on Tuesday, June 27.

Meanwhile, he expressed special appreciation to the Saudi Arabian government for continuing the 'Makkah Route' programme, which allows potential Malaysian pilgrims to travel to Mecca without having to go through time-consuming procedures upon arrival at the country's airport.

Under this initiative, Saudi immigration officials will check the pilgrims' passports at the KLIA counter. Upon arrival at Madinah or Jeddah airports, Malaysian pilgrims will then no longer have to wait for immigration and customs clearance in the country.

This year, a total of 98 special charter flights of Malaysia Airlines and Saudia Airlines will be used to carry all Malaysian pilgrims, compared to 48 in 2022.

The first flight of Malaysian pilgrims began on May 21, while the last return flight is on Aug 1.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency