Performing hajj in 2019, Indian expat Mohammed Salim feels he was blessed to be among millions of Muslims who made the spiritual journey.
After COVID-19 restrictions which have affected pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia, many Muslims still recall the memory of hajj before pandemic.
“To me, it’s unimaginable that hajj is performed by a few thousand people,” Mohammed, a Dubai resident who went to the holy city with his parents, wife, and sister’s family, Khaleej Times reported.
Indian expat Sonia Salim, who lives in Ras Al Khaimah, also missed old times. She was part of the last patch of pilgrims from the UAE before pandemic.
“Every time I see any update on the hajj pilgrimage, I am thankful to Allah for inviting me to perform the pilgrimage in 2019,” she said.
“We did not have any fear of not mixing with the crowd. It was a great feeling to perform hajj amidst a crowd of various other cultures.”
Last month, Saudi authorities announced hajj ban due to the COVID-19 pandemic, declaring that no foreign pilgrims would be allowed to perform hajj this year, setting a maximum of 60,000 pilgrims.
Similar ban was imposed in 2020 when Saudi government cut the number of pilgrims to only 1000 to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Before the pandemic, Makkah used to see millions of Muslims from around the world pouring in to perform hajj.
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Plans from Allah
Sonia planned for Hajj in 2020, but her mother advised her to do it in 2019 instead.
“Everything fell in place. If I have not gone in 2019, I would have been disappointed as the situation is completely different from pre-covid times,” she said.
Mohammed and Sonia believe hajj is a spiritual call from Allah.
“You can go only if Allah wills it for you,” he said.
“Right now, the Covid situation is still grim and Saudi Arabia has taken the right step in limiting the number of pilgrims. This way, the blessed hajj is not cancelled and pilgrims remain safe.”
Sonia added, “At this unprecedented times, pray to your lord to invite you to the holy masjids and perform hajj. Your mind has to be in sync with the body and when the time is right, Allah will surely invite the blessed believers.”
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