It is a dream for every Muslim to travel to Makkah to perform the lifetime journey of Hajj. Towards this dream, they save cash for years and pray to be picked to make the journey.
Shariah Taslim from New Haven, CT, said she has been planning for hajj over the past 10 years. Yet, the Saudi decision to hold a ‘very limited’ hajj this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has crashed her hopes.
“I planned hajj for the past ten years and I was finally able to pay it off. So, I was heartbroken when news hit that it may be delayed, but I wasn’t encouraged to cancel by my Hajj group manager,” Taslim told AboutIslam.net.
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“I received notification yesterday that the Saudi government decided to not allow international pilgrims to attend this year.”
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday the conditions for observing Hajj this season, noting that around 1,000 domestic pilgrims would be allowed to perform Hajj to protect public health due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the decision to drastically curb this year’s hajj was largely expected, it remains unprecedented in Saudi Arabia’s nearly 90-year history and effectively bars all Muslims from outside the kingdom from travelling there to perform the pilgrimage.
The Saudi government waited until just five weeks before the hajj to announce its decision. The timing indicates the sensitivity around major decisions concerning the hajj that affect Muslims around the world.
American Muslims have already prepared themselves for the possibility of not being able to attend hajj this year.
Some American hajj group leaders made tough decisions to cancel hajj plans for American participants. However, many hajj group leaders anxiously awaited the official announcement to determine if other options would be available.
“We were waiting for the official announcement to see what possible options would be available. However, no Americans will be allowed to participate in hajj this year unless they already reside in Saudi Arabia,” Imam Sulaimaan Hamed, owner of Hajj Pros LLC, told AboutIslam.net.
Millions of Muslims typically make the pilgrimage to Makkah every year, with nearly 2.5 million doing so in 2019.
Hajj ceremonies symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith. It commemorates the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.