The Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam, and it is the obligation of every Muslim to undertake the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge in Mecca in the week of the Hajj.
They perform series of rituals where each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka'aba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims), runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars.
It is worthy of note that apart from H.E. J.J. Rawlings who gave Muslims Islamic holidays in the calendar of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama has been the champion of Muslim welfare in the recent history of our country, and I will prove it.
During his tenure as president of the Republic, Muslims enjoyed an almost problem-free Hajj. No pilgrim was stranded in Ghana from 2013 till the time he left office. Additionally, he built a Hajj Village with modern facilities to make pilgrims much more comfortable.
To forestall a situation whereby some pilgrims lost their lives in previous trips through ill-health, pilgrims went through stringent medical checks at the Hajj Village before embarking on the trip. Also, doctors and nurses accompanied every flight that left the shores of Ghana.
Another thing of considerable interest is the Mahama government's expansion work on the Tamale Airport into an international one which made it possible for our Muslim brothers and sisters from the northern part of the country to comfortably fly from Tamale to Mecca without travelling to Accra.
To further demonstrate his love for Muslims, President Mahama made it a tradition to see first flight of pilgrims of every Hajj off when he was president. This is absolutely fantastic and Muslims will forever be grateful to him.
There is another terrific news for our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Addressing a gathering of chiefs and farmers of Brohani in the Tain District of the Bono Region, His Excellency John Mahama promised government support for Muslim farmers to observe the Hajj Pilgrimage if he becomes president of Ghana in January, 2025.
It must be noted that farming not only entails the cultivation of crops, but also animal husbandry as well as aquaculture. So, our Muslim friends who are into animal rearing are also qualified to benefit from this policy.
There is an Akan proverb which says that if someone who has chewed and swallowed a calabash says he will chew a crab, we should never doubt him or her.
Insha'allah! Ghana is going to experience the influx of Alhajis and Hajias from 2025, and I want our Muslims friends to take note.
Anthony Obeng Afrane