Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that this year Hajj pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 Kingdom’s residents and nationals due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to the Ministry’s handout, due to the continuing developments of the coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of new mutations, Hajj registration will be limited to residents and citizens from inside the Kingdom only. The Kingdom’s Hajj ministry further said that the current year Hajj applicants must observe the coronavirus SOPs. While sorting out criteria regarding the pandemic, it was said that the applicants will be between the ages of 18-65 and must be fully vaccinated. In case of absence of full vaccination, an individual must receive their first dose at least 14 days prior, or those who are vaccinated and have recovered from a COVID-19 infection can register for the Hajj during the upcoming Hajj season.
Hajj is the fifth pillars of Islam and once in a lifetime obligated duty of every Muslim who can afford it both financially and physically. Each year millions of Muslims pilgrims across the world reach Makkah to perform hajj, however, emergence of coronavirus pandemic has badly interrupted this over centuries continuous practice of Muslim Ummah together in the holy City of Makkah to undertake this religious duty. According to statistics, each year more than 25 lacs Muslim perform hajj. This is the world’s biggest religious tourism and a major source of income for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, last year millions of the desirous Muslims could not perform hajj due to pandemics and the same has been announced by the Saudi authorities regarding current year. Muslim across the globe were hoping for some positive gesture from Saudi government and were preparing for hajj.
Certainly, it would be a shock for them, however no one could be blamed for that. Saudi Authorities categorically said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia always prioritizes the safety, health, and security of pilgrims. Therefore, in the large interest of the Muslim Ummah, Saudi government allowed only limited numbers of Saudi residents to perform hajj. However, Allah almighty only wants sincerity and resolve and surely Allah will give a better alternative to the people who cannot perform hajj due to pandemic.