Saudi officials announced on Monday that this year’s Hajj will begin on July 29 2020 after being reduced to only around 1,000 believers because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 2.5 million people from around the world usually participate in multi-day rituals, which focus on the holy city of Mecca.
This year, the hajj was held under strict hygiene protocols, with limited access for worshipers under 65 and without chronic illness.
“Pilgrimage on Mount Arafat, the culmination of the pilgrimage ritual, falls on Thursday,” the official Saudi news agency quoted the Supreme Court as saying that Wednesday was the first day of the annual event.
The time of Hajj is determined by the position of the month according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it was holding a “very limited” pilgrimage, a decision fraught with political and economic danger because it was fighting an increase in corona virus infection.
To date, he has observed around 253,349 cases, including 2,523 deaths – the highest tax among Gulf countries.
Although Hajj officials say that pilgrimages are limited to 1,000 people already present in the kingdom, 70 percent of them are foreigners and the rest are from Saudis. Some press reports say 10,000 people can participate.
The ritual will be limited to medical professionals and security personnel who have recovered from the virus, the hajj ministry said.
The decision to exclude worshipers who arrived outside of Saudi Arabia was the first in the kingdom’s modern history and has caused disappointment among Muslims around the world, although many felt the need for a pandemic.
The trailer was tested for coronavirus before they arrived in Mecca and, according to the Ministry of Health, had to be quarantined after the house ritual.
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Saudi Arabia has seen problems with confirmed infections and COVID-19 deaths due to easing traffic restrictions in late May. International flight connections still need to be restored.
Hajj – a prerequisite for strong Muslims at least once in their lives – can be a major source of infection because it gathers millions of believers at busy religious sites.
The World Muslim League with Saudi organizations and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation has supported the government’s move for the health and safety of pilgrims.
But the decision still risks angering hard-nosed Muslims, who for them religion is more important than health care.
The decline in hajj is a great loss for royal income, which can already be felt through shocks caused by the slowdown caused by viruses and falling oil prices.
The smaller year-round Umrah pilgrimage was terminated in March.
Together, the government says they contribute $ 12 billion to the Saudi economy every year.
The direction of the pilgrimage is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the guardianship of the holiest place in Islam is their strongest source of political legitimacy.
But a number of fatal disasters over the years, including a 2015 postage stamp which killed 2,300 believers, has led to criticism of the administration of royal worship.