MAKKAH, Sept 1 – A 104-year-old Indonesian woman, one of the oldest Hajj pilgrims this year, said on Friday that reaching the Holy City of Makkah was “a dream come true”.
Ibu Mariah Marghani Muhammad said that it was not easy to find a travel company to take her because of her age. “Allah is great. And I am very thankful to Him for being able to achieve a lifelong dream,” said Ibu Mariah, who was clad in a white head-to-toe Islamic dress.
“I can’t complain about anything. It’s been an experience I will never forget and I am lucky to have been here in Saudi Arabia and to perform Hajj. I never thought I would ever be here in all my dreams,” she said, speaking in Bahasa Indonesian. She said that she had come to perform Umrah in Makkah when she was 90.
Asked about her experience and expectations at Hajj, she said, “I had no expectations at all. I never thought I would ever be able to come to Hajj. Seven years ago, I registered for Hajj. In Indonesia, we have such a high number of people traveling each year for Hajj that it’s very difficult to secure a spot. Finally, two years ago I was given a spot, but no travel company was willing to take me as they were worried that my age would be a problem and something may happen to me. Then finally one company agreed.”
Ibu Mariah, who is among some 221,000 pilgrims from Indonesia, arrived in Jeddah late on Saturday, on her way to Makkah. Indonesian consulate officials had said she was in good health and would be able to perform the rituals without any problems.
“When I arrived at King Abdulaziz Airport [in Jeddah] I was shocked to see photographers and people waiting for me,” she said, speaking in Arafat near Makkah. “To be honest, I was scared, but once I knew that they were there because I was the oldest pilgrim this year, I smiled.”
Saudi authorities said more than 2.35 million pilgrims from more than 80 countries are performing Hajj, which runs from August 30 to September 4.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that every able-bodied Muslim is supposed to perform at least once in their lifetime, as it is the culmination of a spiritual journey.
Hajj is a huge logistical operation which Saudi Arabia undertakes successfully each year. Among the many aspects of Hajj operations that get priority are safety and security, emergency measures, visas and logistics, as well as hospitality, food and medical services, including catering for elderly pilgrims.