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Hajj in July 2020 as per its schedule: Saudi Arabia

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, with more than two million devotees visiting the Kingdom to perform Islamic rituals

Tuesday June 23, 2020 12:10 PM, ummid.com News Network

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Hajj 2020: Saudi Arabia Monday finally announced that Hajj 2020 will be held in July as per its scheduled date and time. The Kingdom however said only limited number of pilgrims will be permitted to perform the annual ritual this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a lates night announcement Monday, Saudi Foreign Ministry said, “.. It has been decided that Hajj this year (1441 H/2020) will be held with a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia, would be able to perform it."

"This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human being from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings", the ministry said.

Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory on Muslims who can afford it. It is held on 10th day of the holy month of Dhu al Hijjah to commemorate the sacrifices of the Prophet Ibrahim, his wife Hager and son the Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them).

With the foreign ministry's statement it is now clear that Hajj will be held at its scheduled date and time. There were wild speculations that Hajj "could be cancelled" this year due to Coronavirus. However, ummid.com was the first to report that the annual ritual will be held as per schedule but with limited number of pilgrims.

One of the largest religious gatherings in the world

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, with more than two million devotees visiting the Kingdom to perform Islamic rituals.

In 2019, nearly 2.5 million Muslims performed the Haj, including more than 600,000 Saudis, according to official figures. The Hajj ministry said this year the risk of transmitting the disease between countries and the increase in infections globally meant the risk was too high.

The ministry said Saudi Arabia’s top priority is to always enable Muslim pilgrims can perform Hajj and Umrah safely and securely.

The announcement to limit the number of pilgrims for Haj 2020 comes as Saudi Arabia reported a total of 161,005 COVID-19 cases, while the death toll stands at 1,307.

Not the first time

This is not the first time Saudi Arabia has restricted participation in the pilgrimage to Makkah.

Between 2014 and 2016, Muslim faithful from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and several other African countries were excluded from the Haj due to Ebola.

The Haj represents an important source of income, typically generating between $5.3 billion and $6.9 billion for the local economy, according to Mecca's chamber of commerce.

Many countries including Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Malaysia had already declared that pilgrims from these countries would defer their Haj travel plan due to Covid-19 pandemic and suspension of international flights.

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