Due to Covid – 19 many countries have put up many restrictions and have not allowed people to visit them. One of those countries is Saudi Arabia, within the country is the city of Mecca where the yearly annual Hajj pilgrimage takes place for Muslims. But last year due to Covid-19 many Muslims were not able to embark on this holy journey and the effects are still current in 2021.
What is Hajj
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam which every Muslim must try to complete. Hajj is a religious pilgrimage that takes place in Mecca which was the homeland of the blessed Prophet of Islam and is where the Holy Kaaba is located. Hajj is extremely important to the Muslim community and being prevented to partake in it is truly devastating.
Hajj occurs in the last month of the Islamic Lunar calendar, Dhul Hijjah. During Hajj Muslims observe the life of the life and actions of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and engage in devoted worship to God.
How Covid-19 affected Hajj in 2020
When Covid-19 began to spread across the globe many Muslims were already concern that they may not be able to embark on their holy pilgrimage and that sadly became the case. It had come to the Muslim community’s attention that all international visitors to Mecca have been banned from entering and observing the Hajj pilgrimage.
This was decided by the Saudi Arabian government in an attempt to curb the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent the risk of spreading. From a usual two million devoted pilgrims to only around an expected 10,000 pilgrims attended Hajj in 2020 which is an immense scale back.
Not only did these restrictions that were put in place affect international pilgrims but also the pilgrims that are national to Saudi Arabia. The lucky individuals that were able to partake in the Hajj pilgrimage were still under very strict conditions. They were all expected to partake in virus tests, temperature checks before even arriving in the city of Mecca and had to wear masks at all times.
The worshippers that were to participate in Hajj were instructed to quarantine before embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage and after they had completed it in an attempt to reduce and prevent the chances of the virus spreading. All of the above requirements were mandatory as were followed strictly.
How travel restrictions are affecting Hajj 2021
Unfortunately, again just like in 2020 the Hajj pilgrimage has been banned for international worshippers to take part in. This is due to Covid-19 still being very relevant and dangerous.
It has been announced that only those who live within the Saudi Arabia Kingdom can engage in the holy pilgrimage, those participants must be in good health and comply with the instructed health and vaccination requirements that are crucial. Also, must be between the ages of 18 to 65 years old to be eligible to partake in the Hajj pilgrimage.
The only difference and improvement for this year are that more national worshippers are allowed to perform Hajj unlike the year before. This year around 60,000 pilgrims are expected to participate in this Holy journey.
Many restrictions across the globe are slowly and carefully reducing in order to allow everything to go back to normal and hopefully, in the upcoming Islamic Year more Muslims can partake in this journey they work hard all their lives to participate in. However, for all the international Muslims the blessings that are associated with the month of Dhul Hijjah are still accessible even from your home.
It is instructed to engage in worship and prayers to gain the blessing you hope for. Despite the unfortunate circumstances that have restricted Muslims from performing Hajj, Eid al- Adha 2021 is something to look forward to. Please remember to follow the community guidelines set for your safety but please enjoy these beautiful celebrations.
Hopefully, this was informative and helpful for you. We wish you a blessed Dhul Hijjah and a blessed pilgrimage in 2021.