Filipino ‘Guests of King’ pilgrims thank Saudi’s King Salman for Hajj hosting program

Thirty (30) pilgrims from the Philippines who recently performed Hajj under the “Hajj Hosting Program of the Guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” expressed their sincerest gratitude to H. E. Saudi’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud for enabling them to perform pilgrimage to the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah.

“Our profound gratitude to King Salman for the opportunity given to us to perform the fifth pillar of Islam,” said Under-Secretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Lagunzad III is the highest Philippine government official and is one of the three Filipino reverts to Islam who were served by the King’s hosting program in this year’s hajj season.

“It is the most memorable journey I had been for my whole life,” said Sharief M. Dares, a guest pilgrim from Lanao del Sur. “I would like to thank the Almighty for giving me the chance to perform Hajj through the said program,” he added.

Like the rest of the Filipino guest pilgrims, Sharief expressed his gratitude to King Salman and the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the Philippines H. E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bussairy for facilitating their spiritual journey.

The Filipino Guest Pilgrims personally meet the Saudi Ambassador last August 22 prior to their departure to the Kingdom. Dr. Albusairy disclosed the good intention of King Salman’s generosity through Hajj hosting program which is to strengthen unity among the Muslim nations.

“It is indeed a great fulfilment for us Muslims to complete the fifth pillar of Islam - to perform Hajj,” said Datu Salman Sapal, Sultan sa Biwang and a staunch advocate against illegal drugs and violent extremism.

“May the Creator reciprocate the kindness of His Excellency, King Salman, for giving us the opportunity to avail this noble program,” he added.

The Filipino guest pilgrims were also thankful for the warm welcome and accommodation accorded on them by the officials and members of the hosting program for their utmost efforts to complete their journey.

H. E. Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh, Minister of Religious Affairs, Call and Guidance and also the General Supervisor of the Guest Program of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, said in his message the keenness of the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman to support constant communication between Islamic nation’s peoples, their leaders and scholars and bolstering fraternal ties among them.

“May this program of the King continue and that more Muslims from around the globe will be served to help their lifetime dream to perform Hajj shall be realized,” said John Paul Quiano, a Balik-Islam from Luzon who is active in Da’wah activities. 

Aside from performing the Hajj rituals, the guest pilgrims were toured to the sacred and tourist sites.

The pilgrims also noted the abundance of provisions, elegant hotel facilities and the accommodating members of the Hajj program’s workforce who guided and assisted them from the moment they arrived at Jeddah International Airport until they departed. The pilgrims were able to perform the Hajj rituals with ease and comfort.

The King’s Hajj Hosting Program has been running for 21 years serving more than 42,000 guest pilgrims from more than 80 countries.

Around 3,300 men and women Umrah and Hajj pilgrims were served this year which included 1,000 pilgrims each from families of martyrs of Egyptian Armed Forces and Palestinian martyrs.

The Filipino pilgrims further conveyed their thanks to Sheikh Faris Almutairi, Saudi Embassy’s Religious Attache, together with the embassy personnel for their guidance and coordination for the smooth processing of the documentary requirements enabling them acquire the Hajj visas.

The program not only aims to provide opportunity to those who cannot afford to perform Hajj but also to unite the followers of Islamic faith from all over the world.