Home Headlines World Pilgrims arrive in Mecca for downsized hajj amid pandemic - world information

Pilgrims arrive in Mecca for downsized hajj amid pandemic – world information

Muslim pilgrims have began arriving in Mecca for a drastically scaled-down hajj, as Saudi authorities stability the dominion’s oversight of one in every of Islam’s key pillars and the protection of tourists within the face of a world pandemic.

The hajj, which begins on Wednesday, usually attracts round 2.5 million folks for 5 intense days of worship in one of many world’s largest gatherings of individuals from around the globe.

This yr, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry has mentioned between 1,000 and 10,000 folks already residing within the kingdom might be allowed to carry out the pilgrimage. Two-thirds of these pilgrims might be from amongst overseas residents in Saudi Arabia and one-third might be Saudi residents.

The dominion has one of many Mideast’s largest outbreaks of the coronavirus, with almost 269,000 reported infections, together with 2,760 deaths.

Fatin Daud, a 25-year-old Malaysian who’s finding out Arabic in Saudi Arabia, was among the many choose few whose utility for hajj was authorised. After her choice, Saudi Well being Ministry officers got here to her house and examined her for the COVID-19 virus. She was then given an digital bracelet that screens her actions, and advised to quarantine for a number of days at house.

After that, Daud was moved to a resort in Mecca, the place she stays in self-isolation, nonetheless carrying the digital wristband. A big field of meals is delivered to her resort room thrice a day as she prepares to start the hajj.

“It was unbelievable. It felt surreal as a result of I used to be not anticipating to get it,” she mentioned of her pleasure when she came upon she was chosen. Daud mentioned she’s praying for the top of Covid-19 and for unity amongst Muslims around the globe.

“I’m assured that security measures are being taken and that the one factor that we have to do as pilgrims is observe directions, and check out our greatest to help one another,” she mentioned.

Whereas self-isolating has been emotionally difficult, Daud mentioned she is a part of a gaggle of about 10 Malaysian and Singaporean pilgrims connecting on-line and sharing ideas and spiritual workouts to maintain busy.

The Saudi authorities is overlaying the bills of all pilgrims this yr, offering them with meals, resort lodging, transportation and well being care. Usually, the hajj can value hundreds of {dollars} for pilgrims who save for a lifetime for the journey. It additionally generates billions of {dollars} in income annually for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi kings have for generations assumed titles as custodians of Islam’s holiest websites, and their oversight of the hajj is a supply of status and affect amongst Muslims globally. Saudi Arabia has by no means canceled the hajj within the almost 90 years for the reason that nation was based.

King Salman, who sometimes oversees the hajj from Mecca, underwent surgical procedure to take away his gallbladder at a hospital within the capital, Riyadh, the royal court docket mentioned final week. The 84-year-old monarch was to stay on the hospital to get better and be noticed by medical doctors.

For the primary time in Saudi historical past, no pilgrims from overseas had been permitted to participate within the hajj because of issues in regards to the coronavirus and overcrowding. It’s a stark departure from earlier years, when some 2 million pilgrims from greater than 160 international locations flocked to Mecca for the religious rituals, largely from throughout Asia and Africa.

Though the hajj usually attracts all age teams, pilgrims this yr had been required to be between the ages of 20 and 50, and in good well being.

The bodily demanding rituals of the hajj provide a profound expertise for Muslims, with the trustworthy usually weeping, their palms stretched towards the sky, in prayer and repentance. The hajj is required of all able-bodied Muslims as soon as in a lifetime.

This yr, worldwide media weren’t given permission to cowl the hajj from Mecca.

Additionally this yr, pilgrims should put on face masks and can solely have the ability to drink holy water from the Zamzam nicely in Mecca that has been prepackaged in plastic bottles. Pebbles for casting away evil which might be normally picked up by pilgrims alongside hajj routes might be sterilized and bagged earlier than being distributed to the pilgrims.

Pilgrims are additionally bringing their very own prayer rugs and might be required to wish at a distance from each other, fairly than packed shoulder-to-shoulder.

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