Hajj for 2020 To Be “Very Limited” Due to The Coronavirus23 Jun 2020
The government of Saudi Arabia announced that it would hold a “very limited” Hajj for 2020 due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic. Although the pilgrimage that begins in July will be permitted, it will be restricted to people already living in Saudi Arabia, regardless of nationality.
The decision comes as countries around the world are continuing to normalise life following global lockdowns over the course of 2020 so far. However, renewed spikes in countries previously cleared of the virus is making reopening a daunting prospect.
The Hajj Pilgrimage is due to start in July
For much of 2020, there has been lack of clarity on whether the annual Hajj Pilgrimage, which normally starts in late-July, would go ahead in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The kingdom took strict precautions to contain the virus, including implementing full curfews in Mecca and Medina while suspending Umrah pilgrimages.
Saudi officials also called on Muslims around the world to put Hajj Pilgrimages themselves on hold until the situation around the world became clearer. Muslim councils in a number of countries, including the UK, have made similar calls towards postponing Hajj for another year.
Although the country has shown signs of opening over the course of Ramadan and Eid, with hopes that the situation would improve in time for Hajj, Saudi officials have now announced that the Hajj Pilgrimage for 2020 this year will take place on a “very limited” capacity, and only those already residing in Saudi Arabia regardless of nationality.
The decision came after the governments of numerous Muslim countries began cancelling Hajj pilgrimages for their own citizens, with some criticising the lack of clarity from Riyadh.
“This was a very bitter and difficult decision. But we have a responsibility to protect our pilgrims and Hajj workers,” said Fachrul Razi, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister who cited failure by Saudi Arabia to provide clarity among the reasons for the cancellation.
Other countries, such as Malaysia, Senegal and Singapore have since followed suit.
“A disappointing but understandable decision”
Reaction from Muslims around the world was, understandably disappointed.
“I’ve been preparing for years. But what can I do? This is Allah’s will — it’s destiny,” said Kamariah Yahya, 68, from Indonesia.
Others acknowledged that the decision will be tragic for many but said that they understand it’s for the best, expressing hope that they can go next year instead.
Meanwhile, some Islamic councils around the world have started questioning on whether Saudi Arabia should hold the custodianship of the holy sites or whether the sites should be managed by an international board of Muslim countries in light of criticisms the Kingdom has received.