THE WIDER IMAGE

Resumption of haj pilgrimage brings joy and sorrow for Indonesians

THE WIDER IMAGE

Resumption of haj pilgrimage brings joy and sorrow for Indonesians

Resumption of haj pilgrimage brings joy and sorrow for Indonesians

Filed

Filed: July 06, 2022, 2 p.m. GMT







For Indonesian teachers Sutrisno and Sri Wahyuningsih, embarking on the once in a lifetime haj pilgrimage stirs bittersweet emotions.

After waiting more than a decade, Sri's parents were supposed to make the trip to Mecca, Islam's holiest site located in Saudi Arabia, in 2020 but that was cancelled because the coronavirus pandemic halted most international travel.

Making the haj is one of the foundational requirements of the religion and for Muslims who make the journey it is among the most important displays of their commitment to their faith.

Sri sits at her desk on the last day of work before departing for haj, June 10, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Sutrisno and Sri read the Koran after the evening prayer, at home, June 8, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Sri's father will never make the journey after dying from a stroke in March and her mother, whose health is deteriorating, was denied permission to attend after Saudi Arabian authorities imposed an age limit of 65 as part of new rules to resume the intake of pilgrims this year.

Sutrisno, 54, and Sri, 51, are joyful at undertaking the haj in the place of Sri's parents but they are saddened by the loss of Sri's father and the possibility her mother will never complete the pilgrimage.

“It’s such a huge moral burden to me,” said Sri.

“But my mother has given her blessings to me and I have to think that this is a journey I have to go through, everything is Allah's decision, and I have to go on the haj.”

Sutrisno prays inside Al Jadid mosque after work, June 8, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Since last week, thousands of pilgrims have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia ahead of the peak of the haj on the Eid al-Adha holiday on July 9, part of an eventual 1 million that are expected to attend.

Under the quota system Saudi Arabia uses, the average wait to complete the haj for people in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, is 35 years.

This year, just over 100,000 Indonesians are making the trip, about half of the usual number, according to the Indonesian religious affairs ministry.

Preparations began in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta in May, with pilgrims attending a preparatory briefing about the haj and the manasik, or the rites and ceremonies to be performed around Mecca, at what is one of the world's biggest religious gatherings.

Prisetiawan cries as he prays with other pilgrims, before departing for haj,  June 12, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

"We didn't expect the pandemic to come so fast and stay for so long," he said.

Sutrisno, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, gave an emotional speech to the students at his school in Jakarta, as part of a ritual pre-haj celebration.

He sold his car and saved up 105 million rupiah ($7,019) over nine years to fund the trip for his wife's parents but the two-year hiatus cost them their chance to go together.

Many Indonesian Muslims are disappointed by the age cap and lower quota.

Indonesian pilgrims practice prayers before departing for haj, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, May 24, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

"Honestly, it breaks my heart as the haj organiser," said Cecep Khairul Anwar, an official at Indonesia's religious affairs ministry.

"But I hope this regulation only applies to this year."

Sri still holds out hope for the next haj for her mother, who is 71.

"My first wish I would make is to pray for a long life for my mother, that she can stay healthy and can go there," she said.

($1 = 14,960.0000 rupiah)


















A worker prepares luggage tags for the haj pilgrimage, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 12, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Yakub, a pet parrot, belonging to Sutrisno, 54, and his wife Sri Wahyuningsih, 51, is seen among other belongings inside the trunk of a car, to be looked after by Sutrisno's son, before they leave for haj, June 11, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Rudy Cahyadi, 38, a vendor sells shoes and clothing to pilgrims during a briefing ahead of their journey to haj, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, May 24, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Indonesian pilgrims attend a briefing before their haj trip, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, May 24, 2022.

A pilgrim receives an oxygen saturation test before departing for haj, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, June 12, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

 Sutrisno walks towards Al Jadid mosque for evening prayer, June 8, 2022.   REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Sri shows a picture of her father who died last March, June 8, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Sutrisno sits at his desk at the 122 Junior High School, June 2, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

 A decoration with the word "Allah" depicted in calligraphy, hangs on a wall, inside Sutrisno Sri's house, June 8, 2022.    REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Indonesian pilgrims wait for a final health screening and luggage check before departing for haj, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, June 12, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Nur Illahi Rabbani, 39, leads in a Jamratul Aqabah practice, a stoning ritual for the haj, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 24, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Kindergarten students practice Jamratul Aqabah, the stoning ritual, during haj pilgrimage practice at the Nurul Iman mosque, June 9, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Sri and Sutrisno eat dinner at a food court, June 8, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Indonesian pilgrims practice prayers before departing for haj, at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory, May 24, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Kindergarten students gather near a replica of Ibrahim's foot print, while practicing the haj pilgrimage, at the Nurul Iman mosque, June 9, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Muniroh, 62, says goodbye to a family member as she departs for haj, June 12, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Askia Saufah, 7, hugs her grandfather as they say goodbye to her grandmother who is departing for haj, June 12, 2022.  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Pilgrims say goodbye to their relatives before leaving for haj, June 12, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Suyono waves to his wife, Muniroh as she departs with other pilgrims for haj, June 12, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Sutrisno reads the Koran at the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 2, 2022.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Sri drinks Zamzam water at the Grand mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 2, 2022.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Sri and Sutrisno sit in the Grand mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 2, 2022.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem


The Wider Image

Photography by: Willy Kurniawan

Reporting: Willy Kurniawan and Yuddy Cahya Budiman

Writing: Stanley Widianto

Picture Editing: Kezia Levitas

Text Editing: Martin Petty and Christian Schmollinger

Design: Marta Montana Gomez