Indonesian Hajj Pilgrims Must Pass Medical Screening Before payment of Hajj Fare – Minister

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Minister of Religious Affairs Yaqut Cholil Qoumas announced the ministry’s new Hajj policies for 2024, emphasizing the health aspect of the potential pilgrims. Minister Yaqut explained that this new scheme will mandate the pilgrims to conduct a medical screening before paying off the Hajj fare amounting to Rp56.04 million.

“Since there are many pilgrims who die during [Hajj], the ministry along with Commission VIII of DPR takes measures to improve the situation, one of which is the istitha’ah initiative as a requirement before paying off the Hajj fare,” the minister said during a press conference held after a working meeting in Jakarta on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023.

Citing the Hajj Health Center by the Health Ministry, Istitha’ah is an Islamic term to define the ability of someone including physical, mental, and financial capabilities to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The government does not limit the age of potential Hajj pilgrims, as long as they fulfill the health criteria set out for Istitha’ah. However, Minister Yaqut explained that the pilgrimage of those failing to meet the criteria will be postponed for a year.

“Istitha’ah becomes the requirement to pay off the Hajj fare. Before this, people pay off the fare first ahead of the medical screening. Those who failed Istitha’ah will receive certain treatments to be screened again later to decide if they could embark on the Hajj pilgrimage or postpone for the year,” he added.

Stern measures will be taken due to the high number of Indonesian pilgrims who passed away during Hajj the previous year, amounting to 775 people.

Medical screening for potential Hajj pilgrims will start in the first week of December 2023. In his explanation, Minister Yaqut mentioned that his ministry has cooperated with the Health Ministry for the past month for the technical preparation. Minister Yaqut also said his side will keep coordinating with Saudi Arabian authorities.

Meanwhile, the head of Commission VIII of DPR Ashabul Kahfi expressed full support for this measure. According to him, previous Hajj medical requirements were not strict enough and were the reason for so many deaths during the Indonesian Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.