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Published On: Wed, Apr 8th, 2020

To Hajj or not to Hajj, that is the question…

In the reality of the World today, where governments in multiple Countries are demanding that people stay home unless they are key workers and it is absolutely necessary for them to step outside.  Or cities where social distancing has become the norm, standing no closer than two metres to another soul and group gathering can exceed no more than two people!  Perhaps my title for this article is not so far-fetched.

‘To be or not to be’, my glimmer of inspiration this morning whilst isolated in my office, got me to thinking.  In accordance with Shakespeare, this phrase is usually interpreted as meaning ‘is it better to live or to die?  Perhaps this year to Hajj or not to Hajj, really is a matter of life and death.

The Hajj

Once a year, Muslims of every ethnic group, colour, social status, and culture gather together in Mecca and stand before the Kaaba praising Allah together.

The Hajjis or pilgrims wear simple white clothes called Ihram. During the Hajj the Pilgrims perform acts of worship and they renew their sense of purpose in the world.

Mecca is a place that is holy to all Muslims. It is so holy that no non-Muslim is allowed to enter.

The Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam for Muslims. It occurs in the month of Dhul Hijjah which is the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.  Muslims who are physically able must undertake the Hajj once in a lifetime.  However, in the midst of a highly contagious global pandemic, perhaps 2020 isn’t the best year for such an expedition.

Over two million people were expected to travel to the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia this year, by air, by land and by sea.  However, Mohammad Benton, the minister of Hajj and Umrah has ‘asked Muslim brothers around the world to wait’ before confirming with any travel agent.

Saudi Arabia has the highest rate of Coronavirus infection in the Gulf Region with 2,932 confirmed cases and 41 deaths.  Health Minister Tawiq Al-Rabiah warned the number of COVID-19 cases could reach 200,000.  The Country has yet to announce whether the Hajj this year, scheduled for July, will actually take place.

The Hajj is a ritual that is designed to promote the bonds of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood by showing that everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah.

It makes Muslims feel a real importance of life here on earth, and the afterlife, by stripping away all markers of social status, wealth, and pride. In the Hajj all are truly equal.

However, the COVID-19 Virus too strips through any status symbol, colour, age, gender, sexuality, wealth, poverty, strength, weakness and religion. To the virus, we are all fair game, including Muslims.

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