Coronavirus: Muftis across Arab, Islamic world welcome Saudi decision to limit Hajj

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From Djibouti to Pakistan, religious scholars and Islamic organizations have welcomed a decision by Saudi Arabia to host a limited Hajj this year given the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier on Monday, Saudi Arabia’s authorities confirmed the Hajj pilgrimage would be held in a limited capacity this year amid the global pandemic.

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The Council of Pakistani Scholars had endorsed Saudi Arabia’s decision to preserve the health and safety of pilgrims by hosting a limited Hajj this year, according to a statement from its chairman, describing the announced protocols as “wise.”

In Egypt, Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of the al-Azhar, said that Saudi Arabia’s decision to organize the Hajj this year with a limited number of people wishing to perform the pilgrimage was Sharia-compliant given the extraordinary global health crisis and circumstances.

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The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Youssef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen, in a statement affirmed his group’s support for the decision.

“The Secretary-General appreciated the utmost care given by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the health and safety of pilgrims,” the statement read.

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Sheikh Dr. Muhammad al-Issa, the head of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, said the safety of Muslim pilgrims during Hajj was “a priority," and the coronavirus countermeasures introduced by Saudi Arabia have been supported by Islamic leaders around the world.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Last year, 2.5 million pilgrims performed their Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

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