AFP: Lost in translation? Not in Mecca, thanks to a dedicated squad of interpreters gearing up to help two million Muslims speaking dozens of languages at the annual hajj pilgrimage.
The six-day hajj, which starts on Sunday, is one of the five pillars of Islam, an act all Muslims must perform at least once if they have the means to travel to Saudi Arabia.
Most of the world’s Muslims do not speak Arabic — Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim community by population, while tens of millions of the faithful are native speakers of Urdu.
In all, 80 percent of pilgrims to the western Saudi city of Mecca are non-Arabic speakers, according to Mazen al-Saadi of the official hajj translation bureau.His team provides 24/7 interpretation services in English, French, Farsi, Malay, Hausa, Turkish, Chinese and Urdu — the most widely spoken language among hajj pilgrims.For Samir Varatchia, who made the trip to Mecca from France’s Indian Ocean island of Reunion, the men in grey vests — the uniform of the official hajj translation team — are a welcome sight.”I really don’t know much Arabic,” Varatchia told AFP. “The French translation will help us understand things, including the sermons.”Tunisian interpreter Abdulmumen al-Saket is happy to help, fielding frequent requests for his phone number. “We try to help as much as we can, even with reading the maps,” he said.
Nayeemul Islam khan
ENA SHAKUR'S EMARAT 19/3 Bir Uttam Qazi Nuruzzaman Sarak. West Panthapath (Beside Square Hospital)Dhaka.