Saving for years for hajj, Shirin Nazirmadova, a doctor from southern Tajikistan was shocked after she heard the news of cancelling hajj this year for international pilgrims.
With a monthly salary of only $150, it took her long years to save the $3,700 for hajj costs.
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So, instead of waiting for another year to perform hajj, the 60-year-old doctor donated the hajj savings to her local Farkhor district hospital to buy much-needed supplies to battle the coronavirus, Radio Free Europe reported.
The rural hospital used the cash to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for the staff, as well as medicine and antiseptics.
Under a strict quota system, Tajiks sometimes wait five to six years for their turn to go to hajj.
Nazirmadova doesn’t know if she will be able to make the pilgrimage another year.
According to the state’s Religious Affairs Committee spokesman Afshin Muqim, those who had made the hajj quota in 2020 will have a chance to make the pilgrimage next year if they want.
But the committee doesn’t guarantee that the price will stay the same in 2021 or beyond.
“The price has been the same in [dollars] for the past seven to eight years,” Muqim said. “But as the Tajik national currency, the somoni, has lost its value [against the dollar in recent years], the cost of the trip went up in our currency.”
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among pilgrims, Saudi Arabia has put in place stringent health and safety measures at the holy sites, cutting the number of pilgrims to only 1000.
Millions of Muslims normally make the pilgrimage to Makkah every year, with nearly 2.5 million doing so in 2019.
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.