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Pilgrims show up in Mecca for downsized hajj which amid pandemic

Pilgrims arrive to King Abdulaziz Airport for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, July 25, 2020. (Saudi Ministry of Media through AP)

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

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

This 12 months, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry has stated between 1,000 and 10,000 individuals already residing within the kingdom can be allowed to carry out the pilgrimage.

Two-thirds of these pilgrims can be from amongst international residents in Saudi Arabia and one-third can be Saudi residents.

The kingdom has one of many Mideast’s largest outbreaks of the coronavirus, with greater than 266,000 reported infections, together with 2,733 deaths.

Fatin Daud, a 25-year-old Malaysian finding out Arabic in Saudi Arabia, was among the many choose few whose software for hajj was accredited. After her choice, Saudi Health Ministry officers got here to her dwelling and examined her for the COVID-19 virus.

She was then given an digital bracelet that displays her motion and instructed to quarantine for a number of days at dwelling.

After that, Daud was moved to a resort in Mecca, the place she stays in self-isolation, nonetheless sporting the digital wristband. A big field of meals is delivered to her resort room 3 times 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 stated of her pleasure when she came upon she was chosen. Daud stated 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 stated.

While self-isolating has been emotionally difficult, Daud stated she is a part of a gaggle of about 10 Malaysian and Singaporean pilgrims connecting on-line and sharing suggestions and spiritual workout routines to maintain busy.

The Saudi authorities is protecting the bills of all pilgrims this 12 months, offering them with meals, resort lodging, transportation and well being care. Normally, the hajj can price 1000’s of {dollars} for pilgrims who save a lifetime for the journey.

It additionally generates billions of {dollars} in income every year 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 cancelled the hajj within the almost 90 years for the reason that nation was based.

For the primary time in Saudi historical past, no pilgrims from overseas have been permitted to participate within the hajj on account of issues concerning the coronavirus and overcrowding.

It’s a stark departure from earlier years, when some 2 million pilgrims from greater than 160 nations flocked to Mecca for the non secular rituals, largely from throughout Asia and Africa.

Although the hajj usually attracts all age teams, pilgrims this 12 months have 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 12 months, pilgrims should put on face masks and can solely have the ability to drink holy water from the Zamzam properly in Mecca that has been prepackaged in plastic bottles. Pebbles for casting away evil which can be often picked up by pilgrims alongside hajj routes can be sterilized and bagged earlier than being distributed to the pilgrims.

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