Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Adha, al-Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia among COVID19 preventive protocols
Muslims all over the world are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Adha feast, scheduled for this weekend. The Feast of Sacrifice, also called Eid Qurban, honors the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God’s command. The legend says that before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to loss instead. In commemoration of this divine intervention, a ram, is sacrificed ritually and divided into three parts. One share is given to the poor and needy, another is kept for home, and the third is given to relatives.
For the occasion, Muslim people wear their best clothes. The women cook special sweets, including ma’amoul, filled shortbread cookies. They gather with family and friends. Many faithful goes on pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, better known as al-Haji. Today Hajj pilgrims have embarked on the first day of rituals after self-isolating in a designated hotel amid strict coronavirus preventive measures, recently announced by the Kingdom. A health leader has been assigned to each group of 50 pilgrims to ensure the respect of COVID19 preventive rules, including wearing a mask and social distancing, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the Saudi authorities has only allowed those living in the country who meet certain criteria to participate in this year’s Hajj. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam and required for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime. According to local media, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah designated a meeting point in front of the hotel, where visitors will be transported via buses to the Mecca’s holy sites.
Each person has been assigned a seat for the entire duration of the Hajj visit. Upon their arrival in King Abdulaziz International Airport, the pilgrims went through a screening process and have been self-isolated until the start of the ritual. They were also required to isolate at home for seven days before their arrival in Mecca. In June, Riyadh authorities decided to allow a limited Hajj of about 1,000 people to take place, after they suspended entry for individuals going on the pilgrimage due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country in March.
In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, and lasts for three days.Every year, about 2.5 million Muslims visit the holiest sites of Islam, Mecca and Medina. To prevent COVID-19 from spreading among pilgrims, the SaudiHealth ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Hajj and Umraj, established a protocol to ensure the safety of all visitors and local communities. In addition to the measures already mentioned, Riyadh has determined that only Muslims under the age of 65 will be allowed to perform Hajj, all workers and volunteers will be tested before the Hajj pilgrimage begins. Local authorities in coordination with medical professional also prepared a hospital equipped for any emergency that may occurs during the pilgrimage.