Hajj: Limited not canceled

(Azmat ali, India)

Ongoing year, lately 28th July to 2nd August 2020, Hajj, the pilgrimage, one of the most profound spiritual awakening gathering to Mecca, will be off-limits to foreigners due to Coronavirus pandemic threat. Millions of pilgrims throughout the world make a trip to perform the Hajj each year as it is obliged once-a-year. It is a dream of every believer to visit Mecca and perform Hajj but this year, the pandemic erupted and took away dream. After a period of contemplation, Saudi Arabia announced its final decision to not terminate it rather severely limit attendance currently residing in the country. This news sent shock waves of grief and somehow disappointment across the Muslim World, upending the plans of Million believers. After days, it narrowed the announcement, saying that only approximately 1,000 pilgrims would be permitted this year to prevent contagion.

Hajj is the annual gathering to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is held on 8th to 12th of Dhul Hijjah, the final month of the Islamic calendar. Every Muslim adult who is physically and financially able to have such a sacred milestone journey is obliged to do Hajj once a lifetime period. The believer (who) has performed this religious status, is added the honorific title “Haji”.

This yearly religious rite traces back to the time of Prophet Abraham (as).It was commanded by Allah to establish a House called “Kabaah” and call the believer to perform the prayer there. Almighty Allah states: Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer... (Chapter: Al-Baqra, Verse: 125)

"And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways.”(Al-Hajj, Verse: 27)

The current ritual of a pilgrim is established through Muhammad, the last messenger of God. In his period the Kabaah was surrounded by pagan idols. He called them out towards oneness of God and refrained from worshipping of all idols they had been praying for a long time. After the conquest of Makkah, the House of Allah is cleansed by destroying idols and specialized for Muslims. In 632 A.D, the final pilgrimage of Prophet Muhammad was performed along with a huge number of followers. He instructed them on the rites of Hajj. Aftermath, Muslims carried on these annual rites properly but in some disruption, as recently, the pilgrimage was curbed. Since the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded, it is the first time that millions have been barred from Hajj. According to the historian, the Hajj has been obstructed 40 times since 930. It is claimed Qarmatians sacked Mecca and killed thousands of pilgrims. So, these rites were adjourned for a decade until Black Stone was returned to Mecca. Epidemics like Cholera has also been interrupted past pilgrims. Political controversies and diplomatic issues have prevented pilgrims from entering Mecca and war have also been a reason for preventing pilgrims to move Mecca.

Cancellation of hajj is a grave cause of grief but the COVID-19 is a life-threatening and fatal virus. Till now, it has killed more than six hundreds thousands people. So, severe restrictions and precautions must be the priority.

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About the Author: Azmat Ali

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Research Scholar of Al-Mustafa
university, Qom, Iran
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مزہبی کالم نگاری میں لکھنے اور تبصرہ کرنے والے احباب سے گزارش ہے کہ دوسرے مسالک کا احترام کرتے ہوئے تنقیدی الفاظ اور تبصروں سے گریز فرمائیں - شکریہ