The Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) under the Government of Tajikistan has announced a competition to select heads of groups for Hajj 2018. 

The competition will be held from January 22 to February 22 and applicants should speak Arabic or English, be aware of Sharia law, know Hajj performance rules, be communicative, and have managerial abilities and leadership qualities, an official source at CRA told Asia-Plus in an interview.

According to him, nationals of Tajikistan aged 30 to 60 may participate in the competition.  

Under new rules, those who wish to perform the Hajj for a second time over the past five years will have to pay US$500 more than those who will perform the Hajj for the first time or those who performed the Hajj for the last time five years ago, the source added.  

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s APA news agency reported on January 17 last year that according to the decision passed by the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia in September 2016, the second entry of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims is charged extra $500 US dollars.  However, the Ministry of Hajj later eliminated an additional fee for Umrah pilgrimage, APA said.  

6,520 Tajik nationals (including service staff) performed the Hajj last year.  In 2017, the cost of Hajj for Tajik nationals was set at some 33,000 somoni (equivalent to 3,630 U.S. dollars). 

Recall, Tajik authorities in 2016 introduced new age restrictions for those who want to perform the Hajj.  Citizens under the age of 40 are no longer allowed to perform the Hajj.  The aim of the decision to introduce new age restrictions is reportedly to give older people an opportunity to achieve their dream to perform the Hajj.

The new age limit of 40 has been raised from the limit of 35 that was instituted in April 2015.

For the first time the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) under the Government of Tajikistan introduced age restrictions on those who want to perform the Hajj in 2010.  Only citizens aged 18 to 80 were able to perform the Hajj.

In 2011, the CRA designed a new Hajj uniform; men don two-piece suits, while women wear long-sleeved dresses complete with headscarves.  The Tajik Hajj uniform is embroidered with the country’s symbols.

Each year, Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslims from abroad traveling on Umrah and Hajj.  Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca which adult Muslims must make at least one in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God.  The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.  Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.