Saudi Arabia’s decision to hold a very limited hajj this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has disappointed many pilgrims worldwide who were hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Makkah.
Though the decision had looked inevitable for some time, the announcement nevertheless added to Muslims’ disappointment, for having invested huge sums of money and now facing long waits to go on hajj.
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“My hopes of going to (the holy city of Makkah) were so high,” said Kamariah Yahya, 68, from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which had already barred its citizens from the hajj earlier this month, Gulf News reported.
“I’ve been preparing for years. But what can I do? This is Allah’s will – it’s destiny.”
Shahadat Hossain Taslim, head of a group representing Bangladeshi hajj travel agencies, said “many people will be shattered” by the decision but it was for the best.
“Unlike other countries, the majority of Bangladeshi pilgrims are elderly people, and they are vulnerable to COVID-19,” he said.
In India, the decision has smashed hopes for more than 200,000 people who had applied for hajj in 2020.
Despite the disappointment, some Muslims are already looking ahead to 2021 and hoping they would be able to perform hajj.
“I’m still hoping to go on hajj next year. I pray that I’ll stay healthy until then,” said Yahya in Indonesia.
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.
Some 2.5 million faithful traveled to Saudi from across the world in 2019 to take part in the Hajj rituals.