Over 16,000 Russian Muslim to go on pilgrimage to Mecca this year
Over 16,000 Russian Muslims will make a Hajj to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, this year, Rushan Abbyasov, the first vice-chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia and the Russian Mufti Council, told TASS on Friday. "Some clarified figures have appeared: 16,200 Russian pilgrims have left on a Hajj," he said. Previous reports said that 15,500 pilgrims would travel to Saudi Arabia according to a quota set by Saudi Arabia. The Russian quota of 16,400 may be used up this year. The Saudi Arabian authorities have cut the quotas by 20% for all countries this year. "Instead of 20,500 persons before we have 16,400 this year. As a result, the Russian quota was used up sooner than in the previous years," Russian Hajj Mission Head Magomed Gamzayev said on August 20. Due to the changing dollar rate and soaring prices, Russia did not use all of its quota last year: several thousand places remained non-demanded. The cost of the cheapest and most popular Hajj trip in Russia stands at $1,800 this year. The main rituals of the Hajj, which every Muslim must make at least once in his life, started on Thursday. The pilgrims are visiting the holy sites in Mecca, including the Al-Haram Mosque (the Holy Mosque), in which the Kaaba is located. Millions of Muslims from all over the world stream to the Kaaba every year. The pilgrims also visit the Muzdalifah Valley, which lies to the southeast of Mina, an outskirt of Mecca.