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Economic Crisis Forces Sri Lankan Muslims to Forgo Hajj

Sri Lankan Muslims’ dreams to perform hajj will have to wait for another year with the country’s hajj organizers announcing they would not take part in this year’s ritual due to the worsening economic crisis.

“When going through the prevailing situation and the suffering the people are undergoing in our Mother Lanka, members of both associations decided to sacrifice this year’s Hajj,” All Ceylon Hajj Tour Operators Association and Hajj Tour Operators Association of Sri Lanka said in a letter to the country’s Department of Muslim Religious Affairs, Arab News reported.

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Hajj Tour Operators Association President Rizmi Reyal said that the decision by operators was unanimous due to “the severe dollar crisis facing the country.”

Muslims make up almost 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 22 million, which is predominantly Buddhist.

Economic Crisis Forces Sri Lankan Muslims to Forgo Hajj - About Islam

Awaited Dream

The decision comes as 1,585 Sri Lankans were expected to perform Hajj after Saudi Arabia announced last month that it would allow 1 million foreign and domestic Muslims to travel to the holy city of Makkah in the pilgrimage season.

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Hajj has been restricted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic as only 1,000 domestic visitors were allowed in 2020 and 60,000 in 2021.

“The whole Hajj operation of Sri Lankan pilgrims will cost around $10 million, which is a big amount compared with the current economic situation of the country,” Ahkam Uwais, chairman of the National Hajj Committee under Sri Lanka’s Department of Muslim Religious Affairs, told Arab News.

“The decision to forgo this year’s Hajj is a generous gesture by members of the Muslim community to sacrifice their pilgrimage for the sake of the country,” he said.

Hajj consists of several ceremonies which symbolizes the essential concepts of the Islamic faith. They also commemorate 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.