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Home / World / Hajj 2020 starts with 1,000 pilgrims instead of the usual 2 million

Hajj 2020 starts with 1,000 pilgrims instead of the usual 2 million



(CNN) – Islam’s most important annual pilgrimage began on Tuesday, with only a small percentage of its usual worshipers worried about the coronavirus.
Only about 1,000 pilgrims will attend Hajj this year due to new crowd control restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia. Typically, holy places in the cities of Mecca and Medina receive more than 2 million people on a pilgrimage.
For the first time in decades, international travelers were not allowed to participate in Hajj. About 70 percent. The worshipers this year are foreigners from Saudi Arabia and the rest are Saudi citizens. All selected participants are between 20 and 50 years old.

Saudi Arabia, which has the highest number of Covid-1

9 infections in the Arab world, called this year’s “unprecedented” Hajj. Earlier, the Saudi government hinted that the annual pilgrimage, one of the five main pillars of Islam, could be canceled, urging potential pilgrims to postpone their plans.

July 26  At the Grand Mosque near the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam, in the holy city of Mecca, staff checked the preparations.

July 26 At the Grand Mosque near the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam, in the holy city of Mecca, staff checked the preparations.

Saudi Ministry of Media / AFP / Getty Images

„Hajj 2020 m. There is a truly exceptional pilgrimage by all means, “said a statement by Saudi Arabian Hajj Minister and Umrah Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, published by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Media. “Due to the exceptional global health circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, strict precautions have been taken to ensure a healthy Hajj for all pilgrims.”

Staff can arrange pilgrims ’suitcases in the hotel’s lobby, located near Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

Staff can arrange pilgrims ’suitcases in the hotel’s lobby, located near Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

Saudi Ministry of Media / AFP / Getty Images

Authorities say the pilgrims performing the Hajj this year were carefully selected and that they had to go through periods of self-control before coming to the holy cities. They are expected to be quarantined upon their arrival and return, the media ministry reports.

“This is a very special situation in which we find ourselves,” said Kehinde Qasim Yusuf, an Australian pilgrim from this year’s Hajj. “We also have the privilege of performing Hajj on behalf of the entire Muslim world.”

The staff and security of the Grand Mosque complex, disguised and separated from the Covid-19 pandemic, pray together.

The staff and security of the Grand Mosque complex, disguised and separated from the Covid-19 pandemic, pray together.

AFP / Getty Images

For the pilgrims CNN spoke to, Hajj comes as a relief after months of giving birth and being in a family.

“Honestly with everything I’ve gone through, surviving isolation and having a family so far away, the opportunity to do Hajj has paid off for everything,” said Yusuf, an associate professor at the University of Taipei (Medina).

Nearly 270,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 2,700 deaths have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, she halted Umrah, a smaller version of the Hajj that could take place at any time of the year, for fear it could spread a pandemic.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. This happens two months and 10 days after the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah.

July 26  The photo shows a column next to which Muslim pilgrims throw stones in front of a symbolic devil in the Mecca neighborhood of Mecca.

July 26 The photo shows a column next to which Muslim pilgrims throw stones in front of a symbolic devil in the Mecca neighborhood of Mecca.

Stringer / AFP / Getty Images

The height of the Hajj corresponds to the main holy day of Islam, Eid al-Adha, who mentions Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice by the divine commandments of his sons.

The five-day pilgrimage includes many detailed rituals, including the wearing of a special garment symbolizing human equality and unity before God, a circular, counterclockwise march around the Kaaba, and symbolic evil by stones.

Another pilgrim, Moroccan and French Sarah Lagdaa, 29, says “everything happened so fast when the application was made, it was selected, and then there were medical tests and preparations.”

“So quarantine is a really valuable time to pause, rest and reflect,” she told CNN. “My mom cried with joy when I told her. We haven’t seen each other since December 2019.”

Pilgrims arrive at King Abdulaziz Airport for a Hajj pilgrimage on July 25th.

Pilgrims arrive at King Abdulaziz Airport for a Hajj pilgrimage on July 25th.

Yasser Bakhsh / AP

“I feel like having a daughter away from you and taking such a big step in her faith as an ‘adult,’ she’s proud.”

Commenting on safety measures, Lagdaa said it only makes you feel better when performing the Hajj.

“I welcome this quarantine because it means the Hajj Ministry takes proper care of the pilgrims and prioritises health,” she said.

“I really think there will never be a better time for me to perform Hajj.


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