DUSHANBE, August 6, 2015, Asia-Plus -- The Committee on Religious Affairs under the Government of Tajikistan (CRA) calls on citizens not to believe rumors about the so-called ‘charitable Hajj’.

In a statement posted on its website, the CRA notes that rumors have been spread in recent days that persons wanting to perform the Hajj could use services of the “charitable Hajj” offered by separate persons.

The CRA calls on citizens not to believe these unfounded rumors “in order not to be entrapped by frauds.”

“Saudi Arabia permits only relevant official bodies to organize the Hajj; in Tajikistan, such a body is the Committee on Religious Affairs,” the statement says.

This year, Tajik pilgrims will have to pay nearly 3,800 for the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, according to the CRA.

This amount reportedly includes travel expenses, board and lodging, special clothing with the national flag, purchase of animal for sacrificing, guide services, medical insurance, vaccinations, etc.

Last year, the Hajj cost was 18,165 somoni (equivalent to nearly 3,650 U.S. dollars) and the CRA and the National bank of Tajikistan (NBT) last year set the currency exchange rate for Hajj pilgrims at USD1.00:TJS4.97.

6,300 Tajik Muslims reportedly performed the Hajj last year and the same number of Tajik nationals will perform the Hajj this year.

We will recall that Tajik authorities in April this year banned the Hajj for citizens younger than 35.

The CRA said it is intended to give older Muslims a greater opportunity to undertake the hajj, as Saudi Arabia limits the number of pilgrims from each country annually.

Many in Tajikistan, however, believe the ban is an attempt to prevent young Tajiks from developing radical ideas and joining extremist groups such as Islamic State (IS).

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.  The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God.  The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.  Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.