Malaysian survivor of Christchurch mosque shootings thankful for ‘unexpected’ Haj invitation

Mohd Tarmizi Shuib is one of the Malaysian survivors of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March. He, however, lost his son, Muhammad Haziq, in the massacre. — Bernama pic
Mohd Tarmizi Shuib is one of the Malaysian survivors of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March. He, however, lost his son, Muhammad Haziq, in the massacre. — Bernama pic

MECCA, Aug 4 — For Mohd Tarmizi Shuib and his family, the opportunity to perform the Haj, a duty mandatory for every financially and physically able Muslim to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam, this year, is unexpected.   

“We are very thankful. After what we have gone through... we always pray to Allah to give us strength and, indeed, we did not expect this invitation to the Holy Land (to perform the Haj),” he said.

Mohd Tarmizi, 42, was one of the Malaysian victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, and had lost his son, Muhammad Haziq, 17, in the massacre. The terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch left 50 people dead and scores of others injured.

Mohd Tarmizi, together with his wife, Dr Marina Zahari, and their 12-year-old son Muhammad Hariz were among the 200 families of the victims of the incident, who were sponsored by Saudi Arabian king, King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud, to perform the Haj under the 2019 Saudi King’s guests programme.

“We’ve never expected such a gift, an opportunity to perform Haj this year. It was unbelievable after the several months of really tough episode we went through since the tragic incident. This is a reward from Allah, having us (his family) as His guest,” he told Bernama, when met at the programme, today.

During the incident, Mohd Tarmizi was seriously injured after being shot.

He said that he panicked upon hearing gun shots and fled to the front entrance before realising the gunman was there. He then grabbed his second son (Muhamad Hariz), exiting through an alternative door and quickly climbed several housing fences in order to escape with his son.

“I did not realise that I was injured until I saw that my leg was soaked in blood. I saw a garage nearby and decide to hide there with my son when it dawned on me that Muhammad Haziq was not with us. At that time, I fervently prayed for the safety of my sons and myself,” he vividly recalled.

Mohd Tarmizi admitted he and his family were in a state of grief for several months but they received a lot of moral support from the New Zealand’s community and government, and from the Malaysian government, to overcome the trauma and negative thoughts.

“The support showed me that everything we are facing in our lives are part of Allah’s tests, and we should always accept them in good faith,” said Mohd Tarmizi.

Mohd Tarmizi’s family arrived in Mecca on August 2 and was scheduled to return to New Zealand on August 16.

The annual programme is organised by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Da’wah and Guidance, and is personally financed by King Salman.

The cost covers the pilgrims’ accommodation, flight tickets, food and drink as well as Haj rites.

The programme, which had been conducted for more than 20 years, aims to get the pilgrims to come together to exchange views on Islam and to strengthen ties.

A total of 1,300 pilgrims from 72 countries were selected for this year’s programme including 20 from Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia plans to accommodate up to 30 million Haj and umrah (minor Haj) pilgrims in the coming years based on Vision 2030 introduced by the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. — Bernama

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