Saudi Gazette report
THE historic Aisha Mosque in Taneem, outside Makkah, attracts more than 20 million visitors every year. Citizens, foreign workers and pilgrims however say the mosque lacks many of the basic amenities required by such large numbers of visitors around the year. The have called on the authorities to establish an exclusive healthcare center on its premises.
“The mosque, which is named after Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and mother of the believers, lacks a health center and other public facilities, said Abdullatif Eraqi while speaking to Al-Madina Arabic daily.
The spokesman for Makkah Health Affairs has insisted that there are two health centers within a distance of two kilometers from the mosque and they provide integrated healthcare services to the pilgrims and visitors.
However, Eraqi emphasized the need to establish a health center inside the vast mosque, considering the large number of pilgrims who visit it every year. At least 20 million pilgrims from around the world come to the mosque annually in order to enter ihram, a special state of purity, to perform Umrah.
According to Islamic scholars, residents of Makkah as well as pilgrims already in the holy city who intend to perform Umrah must travel outside the holy precincts to don ihram clothes and make the intention. The closest such point is Taneem, where Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked by the Prophet to go to enter the state of ihram when she wanted to perform Umrah, which she was unable to do along with the Prophet and other Muslims because of her monthly cycle. This was during the Farewell Pilgrimage of the Prophet. The mosque built in Taneem later for the convenience of pilgrims who go there to don their ihram came to be known in her name because of this journey.
Eraqi urged the municipality to improve the condition of the mosque’s surroundings by establishing gardens, resting places and parking areas.
Mohammed Al-Shahri criticized the municipality and other government departments for their negligence toward the historic mosque. “The mosque lacks cleanliness and its toilets are dirty,” Al-Shahri said.
Mohammed Ishaq, a Pakistani pilgrim, said he came to the mosque to put on ihram in order to perform Umrah on behalf of a dead relative. He stressed the need for a health center at the mosque to take care of pilgrims, especially the elderly and the sick.
Ishaq commended the government’s outstanding services to the guests of God and urged the authorities to improve the services to pilgrims who visit the mosque daily.
“Pilgrims often find difficulty to get transport to Makkah from the mosque during night,” he said and urged the authorities to arrange enough bus services between the Aisha Mosque and the central area of Makkah.
Abdul Rahim Abdul Ghafour, another pilgrim, commended the government’s efforts to expand the two holy mosques and improve the services to the pilgrims. He proposed the opening of train service between Aisha Mosque and the Grand Mosque.
Abu Abdul Rahman, a French pilgrim, said he came with a group of pilgrims to Aisha Mosque with the intent of performing Umrah on behalf of his father.
“We see hundreds of pilgrims visiting the mosque every day and they include people suffering from various diseases including diabetes, hyper tension and heart ailments,” he said while stressing the importance of opening a health center inside the mosque.
Dr. Atif Munshi, imam of the Aisha Mosque, confirmed that more than 20 million faithful visit the mosque annually. “We need a health center at the mosque and it should operate around the clock to meet the health requirements of the pilgrims.”
He said some pilgrims having high blood pressure and diabetes have collapsed inside the mosque and they had to call the Red Crescent to take those pilgrims to hospitals.
According to Health Affairs spokesman Hamad Bin Faihan Al-Otaibi, there are two clinics at Muqrah and Buhairat, which are located a few kilometers away from the mosque.
“These health centers have a dental, obstetrics and pediatric clinics, in addition to general physicians. The clinics also extend first-aid services and vaccinations,” he said.
“During the peak Haj and Umrah seasons, the Haj Ministry operates a health center inside the Aisha Mosque,” he added.