Amid the crisis of Coronavirus, Saudi Arabia has plummeted into economic and political peril. A huge increase in the infected cases and deaths have emerged on a daily basis. Rather than the speculations hovering in the air regarding the cancellation of Hajj this year, it will be LIMITED. Yes, Saudi Arabia has announced to hold a very limited Hajj this year, only the pilgrims in the kingdom will be allowed to perform.
Hajj is among the pillars of Islam; all able-bodied Muslims must perform Hajj once in a lifetime. Pilgrims from around the world gather at Makkah to perform Hajj; Millions of people are packed in a small place. Therefore, this decision would seriously reduce the risk of contagion, minimizing the chance to spread Coronavirus.
“It was decided to hold the pilgrimage this year with very limited numbers… with different nationalities in the kingdom,”The Official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the Hajj ministry.
Saudi Arabia; Annual Pilgrimage Limited!
The kingdom which is already affected due to the plunge in oil prices would have to face a major loss in revenue. However, a watered-down Hajj will represent a major part of the revenue loss this year. In fact, the holiest sites of the Muslims make Saudi Arabia one of the most politically legitimate kingdoms.
Moreover, the commencement of Hajj has already faced some series of saddening disasters. The 2015 stampede that killed around 2300 pilgrims, raised questions on the management. However, a proper Hajj drew over 2.5 Million worshippers from across the world. Hence, this amount of people, if at risk of contagion, might inflict a mass outbreak of the virus.
However, Indonesia was the first country to step down from the pilgrimage this year, being the most populous Muslim nation. A difficult stance was observed by the authorities stated it was “very bitter and difficult decision”. Subsequently, Malaysia, Singapore and Senegal followed a similar stance and announced its withdrawal from Hajj.