Nigerians and other nationalities planning to go to Saudi Arabia for the 2020 hajj may have had their hope dashed as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Monday said only persons already living in the country would participate in the pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia has announced it will hold a “very limited” Hajj this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with people already living in the kingdom allowed to take part in the pilgrimage that begins in late July.
“It was decided to hold the pilgrimage this year with very limited numbers … with different nationalities in the kingdom,” the official Saudi Press Agency said on Monday, citing the Hajj ministry.
The decision comes in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases around the world, the lack of a vaccine and difficulty maintaining a safe physical distance among large numbers of pilgrims coming from overseas, the statement said.
More than two million people perform the annual pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca every year, including many travelling from abroad.
Saudi Arabia has recorded 161,005 cases of infection and 1,307 deaths. It only lifted a nationwide lockdown at the weekend.
Making the pilgrimage at least once is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – the five obligations that every Muslim, who is in good health and can afford it, must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life, according to Islam.
Pilgrims gather in Mecca to stand before the structure known as the Kaaba, praising Allah (God) together.
They perform other acts of worship too, renewing their sense of purpose in the world.
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