More haj places for Muslim pilgrims this year

Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim joins pilgrims to the Haj in prayer at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Sept 22, 2013. Dr Ibrahim announced on Sunday morning that Singapore has received another 136 places for the haj. -- ST FILE PH
Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim joins pilgrims to the Haj in prayer at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Sept 22, 2013. Dr Ibrahim announced on Sunday morning that Singapore has received another 136 places for the haj. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

More Muslim pilgrims will be able to make the haj this year.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim announced on Sunday morning that Singapore has received another 136 places for the haj. This means 680 pilgrims will make the trip this year, instead of 544 initially. The additional 136 places have already been allocated.

Saudi Arabia had reduced the number of places this year for pilgrims from abroad by 20 per cent this year to allow for expansion work at the Holy City of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

On Tuesday, it sent a letter stating that it has reinstated the number of places for Singapore to 680.

An appeal by Dr Yaacob to Saudi Arabia to raise the number of places to 800 in light of Singapore's larger population is still pending.

The haj is one of Islam’s five basic requirements that all Muslims must carry out at least once in their lifetime, if they can afford to do so.