History Of Tamil Nadu Haj Service Society (Baithul Hujjaj)
By Haji H.Mohammed Afzal

At the outset I thank Almighty Allah for having given us the opportunity of serving the hajees for the past 40 years and feel delighted to share a few thoughts of the past with the members in my annual report.

This year around 200 new members have joined our Society and have made us a strong service organization. At present we have a total of 506 members.

In order to enlighten the new members I wish to recall a few old and new developments in the history of our Society.

Those days Muslims performing haj from India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, had to go over to Bombay, stay there for 4 or 5 days to complete the 3 travel formalities before embarking for Jeddah through one of the ships operated by Mughal lines. The sea voyage would take another 7 days. A few ships were chartered as pre Ramzan, through which hajees would reach Mecca before Ramzan, stay there till Haj and return in Zulhaj; thus having had to be away from home for more than 3 months. These hajees after landing at Bombay before embarkation to Jeddah, had to stay at Sabu Siddique Musfir Khana where all facilities like issue of Pilgrim pass, medical cards, foreign exchange etc., were provided by Mughal lines, medical team and State Bank of India, respectively. Each ship carried around 1000 pilgrims, who had to stand in queues for each and every travel requisite, during their stay at the Musafir Khana, before embarkation to Jeddah. Thus pilgrims felt as though their stay at Bombay and hardship faced were "small Haj".

In order to assist the pilgrims to complete these formalities at Musafir Khana and to see them off in the ships, natives of Tamilnadu staying in Bombay (doing business or in service) came forward and extended much needed help, which was a boon to pilgrims from Tamilnadu.

In the list Social workers late Janab Haji Abdul Rahim Sahib and Janab Haji S.K. Ameen Ahmed of Vaniyambadi, Janab Haji Khader Hussainy, Janab Haji Murshad Peeran Saheb and Janab Haji Abdul Wahab Saheb of Tirupathur, Janab Haji Abubakker Kaka, Pallak Corporation Jabnab Haji P.A. Shaik Kaka of Kayalpatnam, Janab Abdul Hameed Alimsa of Koothanallur, Janab Abdul Hameed Durai Hajiar, Janab EMS Abdul Khader Hajiar of Keelakarai, Janab Haji Aylam Abdul Rasheed Saheb of Melvisharam, Janab Haji Kamal Basha Saheb of Salem Athur, Janab Shahid Sahib of Karaikal, myself from Karur, and a lot of friends staying at Dharavi were those who devoted time for this noble service. These volunteers helped the pilgrims, in their individual capacities and were not working under any umbrella organization, though used to meet inside the ships or at Musafir Khana.

During one of their business visits to Bombay, Janab Late Anaikar Abdul Shukoor Saheb and his son-in-law Janab N.M. Zackria Saheb expressed the opinion to Janab Late Abdul Rahim Saheb that we should have a separate Musafir Khana for pilgrims from Tamilnadu, in line with Memon Jamath Khana to overcome the hardships faced by our people during their stay at Bombay before embarking to and after disembarking from Jeddah.

With this aim, Janab late Haji Abdul Rahim Saheb while looking for plot for construction of Musafir Khana, was in consultation with individual Haj volunteers. As a result it was decided to form a Society named as Madras Haj Service Society and to construct a Baithul Hujjaj.

Madras Haj Service Society was established in 1965 at a meeting held at Baig Mohamed Park situated on Mohamed Ali Road, where all prominent members of our community from Tamilnadu, staying in Bombay assembled. Janab M. Nasrullah Sahib, Bar at Law was unanimously elected as the first president of the Society in this meeting, Janab Haji Abdul Rahim Saheb was elected as first Hon.Secretary and Janab Haji Anaikar Abdul Shukoor Saheb as first Managing Trustee. In Bombay, it was the first Haj Service Society of a state established to serve hajees.

An old Building in Bhendi Bazar was purchased for Rs. 1 Lakh (approx) . As a few tenants were reluctant to vacate, the matter went upto the court and it was likely to drag on for years. The president Janab Nasrullah Sahib reminded us that we would be losing track and would not be achieving our target if we follow this route. Hence he suggested that we negotiate an out of court settlement with those tenants. Acordingly a committee consisting of Janab AKS Kabeer, Janab KVM Sadakathullah and Janab S.O. Mohideen, negotiated with the tenants and got them vacated by paying compensation to the tune of about Rs. 2 Lakhs . Immediately thereafter a foundation stone was laid on 7.1.1972 under the chairmanship of Janab Anaikar Abdul Shukoor Saheb and construction work commenced. In those days the number of Hajees from Tamilnadu was 500 to 600 at the rate of 80 to 100 per ship. The Baithul Hujjaj was ready in 1973 with 14 Rooms and 2 Halls and was inaugurated with Janab Nonbu Bawa's Dua.

From the year 1974-75 the number of Hajees going by Air increased and the Hajees opting for ship decreased. During August 1980 the first President of the Society Janab Nasrullah Sahib expired and in June 1981 Janab Justice M.M. Ismail Saheb became the Society's President. In 1982 the operation of Mughal Lines ships was completely stopped and all hajees started going by air from Bombay and Delhi. With increase in number of hajees from Tamilnadu year by year, we felt the accommodation crunch and hence purchased a building adjacent to the existing Baithul Hujjaj. After getting the premises vacated, we constructed a new Annexe with 26 room with office facility at a cost of Rs.40 lakhs and inaugurated the same in 1982. Thus the Tamilnadu Baithul Hujjaj at Bombay was ready with 40 rooms and prayer hall for Tamilnadu hajees whose number rose to 700-800 by this time.

In January 1986 the Society's president Janab Justice M.M. Ismail Sahib relinquished his post on medical grounds and in November 1986 janab M. Mohamed Hashim Saheb was unanimously elected President.

In 1987 Haj flights started operating from Chennai. Janab M.Ahmed, IAS the then secretary of Tamilnadu state Haj Committee invited us to extend our services to Hajees at chennai. Accordingly, we hired Yadgar Lodge on Pycrofts Road, opp. to Amir Mahal to accommodate Hajees with the help of its Owner Janab Haji Ameer Saheb. Counters for issue of Passports and foreign exchange were opened at Anjuman Campus, Teynampet.

As the number of Hajees went beyond 1000, we found the accommodation at Yadgar Hotel insufficient. The owner of Impala Hotel, Egmore, Janab Haji Habeeb Khan came forward to provide 60 Rooms in his hotel at our disposal for accommodating Hajees, free of cost. After an inspection of the hotel and facilities there, our Committee decided to shift our activities from yadgar Hotel to Impala Hotel and from 1988 we started functioning from Impala Hotel in cooperation with Janab Abul Hassan, IAS, the then Secratary of Tamilnadu state Haj Committee. Janab Haji Habeeb Khan's full support in extending all facilities is work mentioning here, whose Impala Hotel remained Baithul Hujjaj for 7 to 8 years. The strength of volunteers serving Hajees under our Society's banner also rose to 50.

In the meantime, the Society decided to have its own Haj House in Chennai and was on the look out for suitable place. Our search ended in 1992 by finalising the purchase of around 9.25 grounds of land from Anaikar Abdul Shukoor Trust in Choolai. Considering Janab Late Haji Abdul Shukoor Saheb's long association with the Society, and with keen interest to put up Tamilnadu Baithul Hujjaj at Chennai, the Anikar Abdul Shukoor Trust offered the land at half the then prevailing rate. By the grace of Almighty Allah, on 25th June 1993, foundation stone was laid for Baithul Hujjaj. I am glad to highlight the initiative taken by our President Janab Haji Mohamed Hashim Sahib in locating the site and for putting up the marvelous Baithul Hujjaj at Chennai. I should also record thankfully the cooperation extended to me by Janab Late Haji Abdul Rahim Sahib, Janab Haji N.M. Zackria Sahib, Janab Haji C.Mohamed Akbar Sahib, Janab Haji Anaikar Shafeeque Ahmed Sahib in finalising the deal and executing the sale deed in favour of the Society.

During the years 1993-1996 when the Baithul Hujjaj construction was in progress, the estimated cost of Rs. 3 Crores was to be mobilized. Though Janab M. Mohamed Hashim Saheb, our president on one side and Janab K.V.M. Abdul Kareem Saheb on the other side started raising funds through their known sources and I traveled extensively to various districts to raise funds from well wishers known to me, the construction work had to be slowed down or stopped on a couple of occasions for want of funds. Nevertheless, by the grace of Almighty Allah and with the Dua and wishes of Hajees the Baithul Hujjaj was ready for use by Hajees in 1996, after formal inauguration, which is a pride of our community in Tamilnadu and an example for other states. We will be failing in our duty if we do not pray to Almighty Allah for giving his reward to all those who extended their cooperation by sparing their time and money in fulfilling the ambitious Haj House and also in sacred places during their Haj in favour of all those who put in their efforts for erecting this monument will not go unanswered by Almighty Allah.

In 1999-2000 Hajees from Kerala also embarked from Chennai, besides hajees from Tamilnadu, Pondicherry, Andaman / Nicobar Islands and they were also accommodated in our Baithul Hujjaj in coordination with Malabar Muslim Association.

The Member & Executive office, TNSHC, Janab K. Allaudin, IAS, is extending full support and cooperation to the Society along with his officers and staff from the time Haj House was inaugurated in 1996. The State Haj Committee opens its office here during Haj Season to issue travel documents to Hajees. Air India/ Saudi Airlines are opening their remote check-in counters here to collect baggage and issue Boarding Passes. Stalls and eateries are put up in our parking area to facilitate Hajees to buy their emergency requirements. Bayans are conducted after five time prayers on Haj and Ziarat. Hajees leave Haj House in Ihram, after conducting special Dua, by buses offered by Parveen Travels chartered by TNSHC. A large group of Society Haj Volunteers is assisting the hajees from the time they arrive at railway station upto their entry into the departure lounge in airport.

For the past 11 years hajees, after witnessing the services extended to them by us, are praying for us and as a result, we were able to purchase another piece of land admeasuring around four grounds, adjoining Haj House, from Anaikar Abdul Shukoor Trust, by the grace of Almighty Allah. We were using this plot for parking purpose till last year. Since the number was found insufficient with 66 rooms and three halls. We hired hotels in Egmore to accommodate hajees. As this was also inconvenient for coordination, we accommodated hajees in Anaikar Matriculation School, a hajees we decided to put up an Annexe in the parking plot and laid completed construction and accommodated hajees the same year, in 44 rooms with modern facilities. We are thankful to all those who extended help by donating liberally to help the Society once again in fulfilling its second project, by the grace of Almighty Allah. May Allah bestow his Rahmath on them and reward suitably in this world and Hereafter.

Now the Tamilnadu Baithul Hujjaj has 110 rooms, 3 halls and parking space for 30 to 40 cars in Chennai and with 45 rooms and a prayer hall for 100 persons in Mumbai, well administered. Both the buildings in Chennai were designed by Janab Haji Mohamed Harris and constructed by M/s. East Coast construction and Industries Ltd., Chennai.

Both Baithul Hujjaj at Mumbai and Chennai are very useful to our community with all amenities, besides Chennai Haj House halls being used for marriages and religious sermons, Ifthar get together etc.

One of the objects for which our Society was established is to uplift the social, cultural and educational conditions of the Muslims in particular and others in general. Accordingly for the past 4 years we have been conducting educational counselling at our Baithul Hujjaj, Chennai, during April, May & June for students of class X and XII, to guide them to take up correct course and choose better college / universities, through a panel of retired and practicing professors / professionals. With the panel's recommendation, we also extend monetary help to deserving students. This year around 550 students (Both boys and girls) attended the counselling and a sum of Rs.3.25 lakhs was paid in scholarship to 65 students.

I am happy that many of the members of our Society are already in education field and they know the need of reaching out to the needy students of our community. I request them to cooperate with us in this responsibility.

With time running short, we do not know how long we, in the helm of affairs, will be allowed by Almighty Allah to continue. As such it is time, the younger generation in our Society took active part in the activities and served the community as a whole, and the hajees in particular.

May Almighty Allah bestow His Rahmath on all of us.

This year haj flights, Insha Allah, will operate from 30th of November 2007 upto 5th of December 2007, in 98 flights for 3600 hajees, by Saudi Airlines. With a view to serve hajees whole-heartedly, I request the members to visit Baithul Hujjaj during this period and participate in our activities.

May Allah accept our services and reward suitably.

An Interview With Haji H.Mohammed Afzal

But it is for those who fear their Lord. That lofty mansions, one above another, have been built: beneath them flow rivers (of delight): (such is) the Promise of Allah: never doth Allah fail in (His) promise. Holy Quran - 39:20

Source:TNHSS Annual Report 2007
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