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Mecca beckons

By Zhang Zhilong (Global Times)

09:32, November 02, 2011

Muslims outside the Donggu Mosque in Xining, Qinghai Province. (Global Times Photo)

Hua Jieying, 53, had a deeply religious experience last year when he became one of the lucky ones to live the dream of all Muslims.

To make his pilgrimage to Mecca to participate in the annual Hajj, Hua had to meet three conditions. The Koran says all Muslims should make the journey at least once in a lifetime if they are financially and physically able. Muslims in China also need to apply to join a limited number of officially sanctioned pilgrimage groups to Mecca.

Hua and his wife were both lucky to get a place on an official Hajj tour, which this year will allow 13,700 Chinese Muslims to travel to Mecca. Statistics indicate there are 20 million Muslims in China.

"The experience was beyond words. My grandparents and parents could never imagine going to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the Hajj. I'd like to go again," said Hua, who runs a small shop at the gate of the Great Mosque of Xi'an, capital city of Shaanxi Province. He won't be able to apply to return to Mecca as part of an official tour group for another four years.

This year 279 Muslims from Shaanxi Province, mainly from Xi'an's thriving Muslim community of 60,000, were selected to take part in the official Hajj tour. There are an estimated 150,000 Muslims in the province, according to

Muslims in Shaanxi Province paid 31,600 yuan to travel to Mecca for this year's pilgrimage. The price includes a chartered direct flight, accommodation and meals during the five-day Hajj experience. This year's Hajj runs from November 5-9.

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