Hajj 2020: Preparations in Full Swing

Preparations for upcoming hajj pilgrimage are in full swing as Saudi officials strive to organize a safe hajj at the time of a deadly virus pandemic.

The Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced it has screened hajj requests from people of 160 nationalities in the Kingdom.

The deadline for all applications was July 10 and the main criterion for selection is good health, Arab News reported.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia cut the number of pilgrims drastically to less than 1,000 people from those living in the Kingdom. Other reports put the number of pilgrims at 10,000. However, the actual number is still unconfirmed.

Of the pilgrims who will receive approval, 70 percent will be non-Saudis residing in the Kingdom and the remaining 30 percent will be Saudi citizens.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior said those who trespass onto the hajj sites of Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat will get fines of 10,000 riyals ($2,666).

The fine will double if the offence is repeated.

According to the Islamic Calendar, hajj begins on the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah and ends on the thirteenth day.

Hajj consists of several rituals, which symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith. They also commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

Eid Prayer Allowed

Unlike the situation during `Eid Al-Fitr, Saudi officials said some mosques will host`Eid Al-Adha prayers across the country.

Those mosques will ensure they use the government’s preventative measures to protect worshippers.

`Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.

After special prayers to mark the day, Muslims offer unhiyah, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.

`Eid Al-Adha also marks the end of the annual hajj.