The first batch of 206 Bruneian Haj pilgrims returned home safely yesterday after performing the fifth pillar of Islam in Mekah, Saudi Arabaia.
A total of 400 Bruneians performed the pilgrimage to Mekah this year. The final group of Brunei Haj pilgrims is expected to arrive home today.
Yesterday's flight, which was scheduled to arrive at 8.35am, was delayed by two hours but that did not dampen the joy of the pilgrims and their loved ones.
Pilgrim Hj Salim Hj Abd Razak expressed gratitude to Allah SWT for the chance to complete the journey and return safely to the loving arms of his family and friends.
It was Hj Salim's second time performing the Haj, with his first in 1991.
This year, he was accompanied by his wife and two children who performed Haj for the first time.
"It is my hope that all of us will get 'Haji Mabrur' (Haj which is accepted by Allah SWT) and InsyaAllah if I am blessed with health and rezeki (sustenance/provision) by Allah SWT, I want to bring my other children for Haj," said the father of five upon arriving in Brunei.
"Performing Haj requires patience and physical strength, and Alhamdulilah despite the challenges, we prayed for strength and we managed to perform the religious deeds smoothly," he said.
Hj Salim also recounted his experiences over the fatal crane crash in Mekah's Grand Mosque on September 11.
"At that time, we were in our hotel ready to leave for the Grand Mosque when the wind started to pick up and damaged some trees near the hotel. Brunei Haj officers asked us to stay in the hotel as the winds became dangerously strong," he said.
No Brunei Haj pilgrims were injured in the crash and the stampede on Aidil Adha (September 24) in Mina near Mekah.
"We are saddened with what happened. We prayed that Allah SWT will bless their souls and grant them syurga (heaven)," he said.
The Haj pilgrims were not the only ones anxious to meet their loved ones.
The happiness on Hj Maz Adnan Abdullah's face was evident, as he waited patiently for the arrival of his son, Hj Mohd Adfarul.
"It is easier to stay in touch now. My son went for Haj with his friends and he always updated us on his condition there," said the Kg Sg Akar resident.
Hj Adanan Awang Taha was at the airport to pick up his sister, Hjh Saadiah and her husband, Hj Jaafar Duraman.
It was Hjh Saadiah's first time performing Haj while it was the second for her husband.
Hj Adanan, who hailed from Kg Rimba Housing Development Scheme (RPN) said, "We prayed for them and all those performing Haj to be able to perform the journey safely. We also kept ourselves updated with news of Haj through several news channels."
As a common tradition in the sultanate, Haj pilgrims will be celebrated at their respective houses with the recital of zikir marhaban where family members and friends can extend their congratulations to the pilgrims for successfully performing Haj.