Muslims dissatisfied, however accepting, as Saudi Arabia scales again Haj

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On this August 13, 2019 file photograph taken with sluggish shutter pace, Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba on the Grand Mosque, in the course of the Haj within the Muslim holy metropolis of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Picture Credit score: AP

Kuala Lumpur: Muslims expressed disappointment on Tuesday at Saudi Arabia’s choice to cut back this 12 months’s Haj, however many accepted it was obligatory as the dominion battles a significant coronavirus outbreak.

Riyadh stated Monday the Haj can be “very limited” with solely pilgrims already within the nation allowed to carry out the ritual, marking the primary time in trendy Saudi historical past that international guests have been barred.

The transfer had seemed inevitable for a while and several other international locations had already pulled out, however the announcement however added to disappointment for Muslims who make investments enormous sums and face lengthy waits to go on Haj.

“My hopes of going to (the holy city of Mecca) were so high,” stated Kamariah Yahya, 68, from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which had already barred its residents from the Haj earlier this month.

“I’ve been preparing for years. But what can I do? This is Allah’s will – it’s destiny.”

A gaggle representing about 250 corporations in Indonesia that organise Saudi pilgrimages stated it understood that the five-day occasion, scheduled for the tip of July, can be “too risky” in the intervening time.

However Syam Resfiadi, chairman of the Union of Haj and Umrah Organisers, informed AFP a few of his group’s members had “started laying off employees or even shutting down their operations – they’ve had no income for months”.

A should for able-bodied Muslims at the least as soon as of their lifetime, the pilgrimage sees thousands and thousands of individuals pack into congested non secular websites and will have turn into a significant supply of virus transmission.

‘Shattered’

Shahadat Hossain Taslim, head of a gaggle representing Bangladeshi Haj journey businesses, stated “many people will be shattered” by the choice however it was for the most effective.

“Unlike other countries, the majority of Bangladeshi pilgrims are elderly people, and they are vulnerable to COVID-19,” he stated.

In neighbouring India, the minister for minority affairs stated greater than 200,000 individuals had utilized to go on Haj in 2020, and they might obtain a full refund of any cash deposited for the pilgrimage.

The Haj ministry in Saudi Arabia, the place virus instances have surpassed 161,000, has stated the pilgrimage will nonetheless be open to individuals of varied nationalities already within the nation however didn’t specify a quantity.

Regardless of the frustration, some Muslims had been already looking forward to 2021 and hoping they might be capable to carry out the pilgrimage then.

“I’m still hoping to go on Haj next year, and pray that I’ll stay healthy until then,” stated Yahya in Indonesia.

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