Sterling Bank, Non-Interest Banking Group has launched a new product known as the hajj savings plan. The product, according to the bank, which is in partnership with Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) would provide banking services to Nigerian Muslim traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to fund their Hajj obligations. The bank also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TAFSAN, the investment arm of Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) to create awareness and drive uptake of the product among the over one million Muslim members of NASFAT across the country.
Speaking in Lagos at the product launch, Divisional Head, Institutional Banking, Sterling Bank, Mr. Tunde Adeola commended NAFSAT and TAFSAN for the novel savings plan which will make pilgrimage more accessible and easier for intending pilgrims to achieve. Adeola noted that the product had become imperative because of the rising financial implication of embarking on Hajj on a yearly basis, thereby making it difficult for some Muslims to go on the holy pilgrimage.
Affirming the benefits of Hajj, Chief Missioner of NASFAT, Alhaji Mahroof Onike, said it is one of the five pillars of Islam and Allah commanded that every Muslim should go on Hajj at least once in their lifetime. He encouraged Muslims who have not gone on Hajj to take advantage of the savings plan to set a future pilgrimage date for Hajj (major pilgrimage) or Umrah (minor pilgrimage). Alhaji Onike thanked Sterling Bank for introducing the savings plan to create opportunities for those who intend to perform the pilgrimage at a future date.
He enjoined everyone present at the event to be advocates of the savings plan by helping to create awareness about it so that a lot of Muslims could benefit from it. Group Head, Non-Interest Banking, Sterling Bank Plc, Dr. Basheer Oshodi, who gave details of the Hajj savings plan, said it would make it easy for desiring Muslim pilgrims to choose the year they want to perform Hajj and plan their contributions, either weekly or monthly. On the features of the plan, he said “It offers benefits that include profit sharing on savings at an agreed profit sharing ratio, takaful (insurance) cover of up to N500,000 and early payment for Hajj in the year the pilgrim is scheduled to perform Hajj.
The plan could be set up and maintained by the intending pilgrim or on behalf of a beneficiary who could be a parent, spouse or child.” Dr. Oshodi added that deposits for the plan would be received by the bank based on Mudaraba (profit sharing) principle and the prospective pilgrim could perform Hajj before his or her planned period by making up the Hajj fare in the year he/she wishes to proceed on pilgrimage.
Every year, millions of Muslims from around the world converge in Mecca for a five-day Hajj pilgrimage. During the period, they will circle Islam’s most sacred site, the cube-shaped Kaaba to take part in a series of rituals intended to bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims. Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in West Africa according to the Pew Research Centre with Sterling baan estimated 100 million of its citizens either belonging to the Sunni or the Shia sect. About 95, 000 Nigerians embark annually for the holy pilgrimage in Mecca. With the Hajj Savings Plan, more Nigerian Muslims can be part of this expedient religious exercise