Clerics in UP welcome Centre’s decision to do away with VIP Haj quota

Lucknow: The Centre’s recent decision to do away with the discretionary Haj quota has had a positive response from the Muslim clerics who said that it will end discrimination among pilgrims.

Registration for the upcoming Haj pilgrimage will start in a couple of days.

The discretionary Haj quota was available with people in top constitutional posts and the minority affairs ministry. Union minister Smriti Irani had last week said the step to end the quota has been taken as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resolve to end ‘VIP culture’.

“This is certainly a welcome move and a positive development since there is no place for any VIP culture in Islam. In the ‘darbar’ of Allah, everybody is equal,” Mohsin Raza, the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh State Haj Committee told PTI.

He also said of the 1,75,025 Haj pilgrims this year, around 31,000 are from Uttar Pradesh. Last year, the number of pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh was around 8,700.

Welcoming the Centre’s move, prominent Muslim cleric of Lucknow and Eidgah Imam Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali termed the decision “positive”.

“This will end discrimination. The number of Haj pilgrims will increase. Most importantly, if one has to visit the home of the almighty, then one does not need any source or seek any form of discrimination,” he told PTI here.

General secretary and spokesperson of All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Yasoob Abbas welcomed the Centre’s move, saying it will enable a poor Muslim to undertake the Haj pilgrimage.

Drawing a comparison between Haj and Namaaz, Nasir Qureshi, media co-ordinator of Bareilly-based Ala Hazrat Dargah told PTI, “There should be no quota for Haj, similar to the practice in ‘Namaaz’ where there is no VIP quota.”

Uttar Pradesh’s minister of state for minority welfare, Muslim Waqf and Haj Danish Azad Ansari told PTI, “Islam teaches that everyone is equal and there is no VIP. During namaaz in mosques, the rich, the poor, the rickshaw pullers and the vendors offer it together.”

The state government is doing everything possible to make the Haj pilgrimage smooth and a better experience for the pilgrims, he added.

However, no comment on this matter was available from A P Abdullakutty, the chairman of the Haj Committee of India.

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