Saudi Arabia will conduct a smaller hajj for a second consecutive year starting on Saturday. Riyadh only permits residents with proper vaccination against covid-19 to take part in Hajj 2021. Foreign Muslims from across the world face a second year of exclusion from the ritual.
The Saudi monarchy hopes to build on its experience from last year, when the Hajj practice did not lend a hand to a breakout of the disease. It will allow 60,000 Saudi Arabians to attend, up from 1,000 in 2020 but far less than in ordinary situations.
Hajj is a major pillar of Islam, among the five pillars introduced in the religion, that all Muslims with physical and financial capability must do at least once in their lives. Two years ago, before the outbreak of Coronavirus, more than 2.5 million people from across the world took part in the ritual.
Pandemic precautions and the outbreak of new variants across the world, including Saudi vicinity led the hajj ministry announce that it was working on the “highest levels of health measures.”
The local officials limited Hajj 2021 to individuals who received complete vaccination between the ages of 18-65. The participants should not have chronic diseases, the ministry added. Over 558,000 candidates used an online verification method to register for hajj 2021, among whom 60,000 found the chance. Hajj usually draws large crowds of worshippers to packed holy locations and could be a viral super-spreader without the measures.
Apart from rigorous social distancing, the local officials in charge of Hajj 2021 in Saudi Arabia announced the introduction of a “smart hajj card” that will give worshippers contact-free admittance to various locations like hotels, religious sites and transportation system. The planning, however, faced with criticism on various sides, especially worshippers banned from the practice for two consecutive years.
A Trans-National Practice
Hajj 2020 took place on the lowest size in recent times, with officials allowing only 1,000 people to take part. Local media, however, reported that close to 10,000 pilgrims participated in Hajj 2020.
Saudi Arabia boasts the patrimony of one of the holiest sites. The rulers use the opportunity as a potent tool for political credibility. The event is more than a religious ritual for the country bringing about a face validity for the administrative system.
However, excluding foreign pilgrims in Hajj 2021 has sparked criticism and grief among Muslims throughout the world. Muslims usually save for long years to raise the money for participation in the practice.
Pilgrims feel the Saudi officials is less intent on identifying alternate Hajj 2021 planning. This necessitates an eye for detail, dedication, and adherence to health regulations while still allowing for flexibility.
According to the Saudi Religious Affairs Ministry’s waiting list, the absence of foreign pilgrims for two years would result in a delay of over 500 thousand waiting people. Besides, nobody can have a definite prediction about the end of this condition. As a result, would-be pilgrims must wait for an unknown span of time for their turn in the ritual.
Furthermore, a great part of Saudi Arabia’s economy is dependent on Hajj ritual. The style of Hajj 2021 infuriated the private sector, businesses and those who proceed life with Hajj livelihood. Hotels, airlines, Animal husbandry, transportation and many other section are on the verge of failure.
Hajj, a symbol of solidarity and in the world of Islam suffered from a disease that affect all life affairs across the world. A more comprehensive management of Hajj 2021 could preserve this means of solidarity while safeguarding the health, religion, economy, and Islamic as a community together.