As part of the pilgrimage ritual for the year 1444 of the Hegira (2023), the first Moroccan pilgrimage group departed from Rabat-Salé airport on Friday. They were headed for the Islamic Holy Places.
Before this first group left, Ahmed Toufiq, the minister of awqaf and Islamic affairs, read aloud the message that King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, had given to Moroccan pilgrims.
The King urged Moroccan pilgrims in this message to uphold the ideals of openness and tolerance, which are emblematic of their country’s long history and cultural identity, and to abstain from all debates and causes for conflict in order to be honorable representatives of their country.
The Sovereign urged Moroccan pilgrims to epitomize Islamic fraternity, moderation in matters of faith and conduct, and rejection of all manifestations of radicalism, extremism, or any cause of discord or strife in order to be honorable representatives of their religion at this sublime gathering.
Since “there is no better provision for this journey than devoutness,” the King, Commander of the Faithful, likewise exhorted travelers to demonstrate their religiosity.
In this grand assembly, where Muslims are required to keep in mind two fundamental truths that complement one another, the Sovereign also urged Moroccan pilgrims to exhibit exemplary moral behavior. These two truths are their proclamation of faith in the Oneness of God the Most High and their desire to demonstrate their unity and unwavering adherence to God’s unchanging Law.
The Sovereign emphasized that in Islam, pilgrimage stands for the equality of the faithful who, on the occasion of the Hajj, are gathered in one location—the Sacred Kaaba, Mina, and Arafat—wearing the same symbolic Ihram cloth (the solemn entry into the sacred universe of the Hajj) and blending in with one another without any distinction of title or status.
The King also emphasized to Moroccan pilgrims that observing the responsibilities and canonical laws of pilgrimage required the highest discipline and sincerity during their time spent in the Holy Places.
In a news release on this occasion, Toufiq stated that 81 flights were scheduled as part of the pilgrimage this year, noting that the final departure flight would occur on June 22 and that return flights would begin on July 3 and end on July 23.
In order to save pilgrims the difficulties of driving, the Minister stipulated that 49 of these aircraft, or more than half, will land in Medina.
Toufiq also disclosed that 10,500 pilgrims would profit from the new “Route to Mecca” strategy, which was introduced by the Saudi authorities last year and departs from Casablanca’s Mohammed V airport.
According to the Minister, there are 35,000 pilgrims this year, of whom 22,800 are under the supervision of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, and 12,200 are under the supervision of travel agencies. The Minister also mentioned that 51% of pilgrims are women and 15% are over 80 years old.
He stated that 460 attendants and 725 administrative employees, in addition to ulemas and medics, are in charge of keeping an eye on these pilgrims.