The Emergency Meeting of the Ministry of Religious Affairs was convened to review the latest situation following the announcement by Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj 2020 with “a very limited number” of pilgrims residing in the country, the Ministry’s spokesperson said.
Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony’s spokesman, Imran Siddiqui, released a statement stating that Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Hajj and UmrahDr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten had phoned his Pakistani counterpart Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri to remind him of the move.
An emergency meeting was called to examine the new developments at which the process for the restoration of payments to those who had applied for the government’s Hajj scheme will be addressed. Pakistani Envoy, Diplomatic Officers, and the Royal Government of Pakistan Hajj would represent the country this year.
According to the document, a total of 179,210 Pakistanis registered to conduct Hajj this year, including 107,526 under the government system and 71,684 under the private system. The Saudi government announced that it would bar arrivals from abroad to attend the Hajj this year due to coronavirus, allowing only a limited number of Saudi citizens and residents to make a pilgrimage with social distancing measures enforced.
Announcement means that this will be the first year in modern times that Muslims from around the world have not been allowed to make an annual pilgrimage to Makkah, which all Muslims aim to do at least once in a lifetime.
This decision is taken to ensure that Hajj is carried out in a safe manner from the point of view of public health while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distance protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam on the preservation of human life, “said the ministry that oversees pilgrimages in the Statement.
The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia reached 160,000, with 1,307 deaths following a rise in new infections in the last two weeks. Some 2.5 million pilgrims usually visit the holiest sites of Islam in Makkah and Medina for the week-long Hajj. Official data show Saudi Arabia earns around $12 billion a year from the Hajj and the lesser, year-round pilgrimage known as umrah
The Kingdom halted international passenger flights in March and, in March, asked Muslims to hold Hajj ‘s plans until further notice. International pilgrimages to Umrah have also been suspended until further notice. Earlier this month, Malaysia and Indonesia also stopped their residents from heading to Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, voicing the concerns of the coronavirus.