Chinese Muslims About to Set Out Pilgrimage to Mecca
More than 2,600 Chinese Muslims from northwest China's Gansu province are currently preparing for their upcoming pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, local religious officials said on Oct. 7.
About 5,000 Muslims from Gansu and nearby Qinghai province are expected to fly to Mecca via charter flights from an airport in Gansu's capital of Lanzhou, according to Ma Youcheng, deputy director of the Islamic Association of Gansu.
Since many of the local Muslims are from remote rural areas and have little travel experience, the association is offering short training courses to prepare the travelers for their journey, as well as educate them on common pilgrimage rituals, Ma said.
The pilgrimage to Mecca will last for about one month. Imams, interpreters and doctors who have traveled to Mecca before will accompany them during their trip, Ma said.
"The training and accompaniment will allow us to be more absorbed in our pilgrimage and make our trip more comfortable," said Xiao Jintian, a Muslim from the city of Dingxi.
The Mecca pilgrimage, also known as hajj, is a religious tradition that demands all able-bodied Muslims who can afford to travel to Mecca to make such a trip at least once in their lives.