Saudi Arabia has two options as per this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca – The Hajj – it may call it off or scale it down as the rate of infection of the coronavirus in the Islamic nation does not seem to be going down.
Pundits says this is the first time in modern history that we may witness an unsuccessful Hajj due to the debilitating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Hajj represents a major potential source of contagion as it packs millions of pilgrims into congested religious sites.
Muslim nations all over the world wait with bated breath for Riyadh to decide quickly whether the annual ritual will go ahead as scheduled in late July.
Obviously, the world’s largest mass gathering requires enormous planing and logistics – hence the Saudi Kingdom consults seriously with all stakeholders to know which way forward.
On a good day, the Hajj may attract as mush as 2.5 million pilgrims, but Kingdom authorities had advised Muslims in late March to defer preparations due to the fast-spreading disease.
It may be a a nominal hajj or it may be scrapped totally as inside sources suggested.
Indonesia threw in the towel for the pilgrimage this month after unsuccessfully pressuring Riyadh for clarity. A minister of the most populous Muslim nation called the withdrawal a “very bitter and difficult decision”.
Malaysia, Senegal and Singapore followed suit with similar announcements.
However, many other countries are still hopeful. Egypt,Morocco Turkey, Lebanon and Bulgaria still wait for Riyadh’s decision.
In France, religious leaders have advised Muslims to “postpone” their pilgrimage plans until next year due to the prevailing risks.
The hajj is a must for able-bodied and financially able Muslim at least once in a lifetime. The 2019 Hajj was attended by about 2.5 million people with about 1.8 million people being visitors.