Saudi Arabia’s decision to close its holiest sites to foreign visitors over the coronavirus has sadly disrupted the travel plans for thousands of Muslim pilgrims.
This decision has led to the cancelation of flights abruptly and even stranded thousands of international pilgrims. It shocked the Muslim world and drastically impacted the lives of local American families.
“We ask God Almighty to spare all humanity from all harm,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement announcing the decision.
According to the CDC website, an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus, first detected in China, has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States.
The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
After the sudden Umrah ban, local families in North Texas are grappling with the news of the possibility of canceled upcoming Umrah plans.
In Atlanta, Georgia local Muslims are facing the same fears, as news spreads throughout the area of canceled Umrah plans and growing concerns surrounding international travel.
“My best friend is planning to attend Umrah in a few weeks. As of now, her trip hasn’t been canceled but she is growing deeply concerned as each day passes,” Zakiyyah Cooper from Atlanta, GA shared with AboutIslam.net.
Local Hajj and Umrah companies are struggling to respond to the news and identify solutions for their pilgrims.
Many remain optimistic that the Saudi government will immediately remedy this issue by creating isolation centers and screening protocols for pilgrims.
“We found out through a family member who is a lawyer last Wednesday evening. We were shocked and disappointed because obviously a lot goes into planning an umrah with family,” Hira Ali, from Atlanta, GA told Aboutislam.net.
“Actually, we planned to take 15 of our family members this year. We planned this trip for about six months but as a Muslim, I believe that everything that happens has good in it for me. We called the embassy and they have said it’s temporary and might not be in effect by the time we plan to travel, so we are still hoping to make the journey, God willing, and making istikhara for guidance,” Ali added.