Masks, robots, bracelets: How COVID-19 has transformed hajj for Muslim pilgrims

3 months ago 17
PR Distribution

Tens of thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest tract successful Mecca connected Sunday, but remained socially distanced and wore masks arsenic the coronavirus takes its toll connected the hajj for a 2nd twelvemonth running.

What erstwhile drew immoderate 2.5 cardinal Muslims from each walks of beingness from crossed the globe, the hajj pilgrimage is present astir unrecognizable successful scale.

The pared down hajj of this twelvemonth and past owed to the COVID-19 outbreak not lone impacts the quality of radical extracurricular Saudi Arabia to fulfill the Islamic work but besides the billions of dollars annually that Saudi Arabia draws from being custodian of its beatified sites.

The Islamic pilgrimage lasts astir 5 days, but traditionally Muslims statesman arriving successful Mecca weeks up of time. The hajj concludes with the Eid al-Adha celebration, marked by the organisation of nutrient to the mediocre astir the world.

Story continues beneath advertisement

This year, 60,000 vaccinated Saudi citizens oregon residents of Saudi Arabia person been allowed to execute the hajj owed to continued concerns astir the dispersed of the coronavirus. It’s a acold greater fig than last year’s mostly symbolic hajj that saw less than 1,000 radical from wrong the kingdom taking part.

 Saudi Arabia limits fig   of pilgrims up  of Hajj' 2:15 Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia limits fig of pilgrims up of Hajj

Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia limits fig of pilgrims up of Hajj – Jun 28, 2020

With nary wide oregon agreed upon modular for a vaccine passport, vaccine inoculation rates vastly uneven and caller variants of the microorganism threatening the advancement already made successful immoderate nations, it’s unclear erstwhile Saudi Arabia volition play big again to the millions much Muslim pilgrims it planned to person successful years to come.

The kingdom’s Al Saud rulers person staked their legitimacy successful ample portion connected their custodianship of hajj sites, giving them a unsocial and almighty level globally among Muslims. The kingdom has gone to large lengths to guarantee the yearly hajj continues uninterrupted, contempt changes caused by the pandemic.

Story continues beneath advertisement

Robots person been deployed to spray sanitizing disinfectant astir the cube-shaped Kaaba’s busiest walkways. It is present wherever the hajj pilgrimage begins and ends for most.

Saudi Arabia is besides investigating a astute bracelet this twelvemonth successful collaboration with the government’s artificial quality authority. The touchscreen bracelet resembles the Apple Watch and includes accusation connected the hajj, the pilgrim’s oxygen levels and vaccine information and has an exigency diagnostic to telephone for help.

Workers disinfect the grounds arsenic Muslim pilgrims circumambulate astir the Kaaba, the cubic gathering astatine the Grand Mosque, a time earlier the yearly hajj pilgrimage, Saturday, July 17, 2021. AP Photo/Amr Nabil

International media outlets already contiguous successful the kingdom were permitted to screen the hajj from Mecca this year, but others were not granted support to alert successful arsenic had been customary earlier the pandemic.

Cleaners are sanitizing the immense achromatic marble spaces of the Grand Mosque that houses the Kaaba respective times a day.

Story continues beneath advertisement

“We are sanitizing the level and utilizing disinfection liquids portion cleaning it 2 oregon 3 times during (each) shift,” said Olis Gul, a cleaner who said helium has been moving successful Mecca for 20 years.

The hajj is 1 of Islam’s astir important requirements to beryllium performed erstwhile successful a lifetime. It follows a way the Prophet Muhammad walked astir 1,400 years agone and is believed to yet hint the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, oregon Abraham and Ishmael arsenic they are named successful the Bible.

The hajj is seen arsenic a accidental to hitch cleanable past sins and bring astir greater unity among Muslims.

The communal feeling of much than 2 cardinal radical from astir the satellite — Shiite, Sunni and different Muslim sects — praying together, eating unneurotic and repenting unneurotic has agelong been portion of what makes hajj some a challenging and transformative experience.

Muslim pilgrims commune successful beforehand of Al-Safa upland astatine the Grand Mosque, a time earlier the yearly hajj pilgrimage, Saturday, July 17, 2021. AP Photo/Amr Nabil

There are questions astir whether the hajj volition beryllium capable to again gully specified ample numbers of faithful, with antheral pilgrims forming a oversea of achromatic successful achromatic terrycloth garments worn to symbolize the equality of mankind earlier God and women forgoing constitution and perfume to absorption inwardly.

Story continues beneath advertisement

Like past year, pilgrims volition beryllium drinking h2o from the beatified Zamzam good successful packaged integrative bottles. Pilgrims volition besides person to transportation their ain supplication rugs, were provided with umbrellas to shield them from the prima and indispensable travel a strict docket via a mobile app that informs them of erstwhile they tin beryllium successful definite areas to debar crowding.

“I anticipation this is simply a palmy hajj season,” said Egyptian pilgrim Aly Aboulnaga, a assemblage lecturer successful Saudi Arabia. “We inquire God to judge everyone’s hajj and for the country to beryllium unfastened to greater numbers of pilgrims and for a instrumentality to an adjacent amended concern than before.”

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the kingdom was moving to vastly grow Mecca’s quality to big pilgrims with a $60-billion Grand Mosque expansion. On the mosque’s southbound broadside stands the 1,972-foot (600-meter) clock-tower skyscraper, portion of a completed seven-tower analyzable that was built to accommodate high-end paying pilgrims.

The kingdom, with a colonisation of much than 30 million, has reported implicit fractional a cardinal cases of the coronavirus, including much than 8,000 deaths. It has administered astir 20 cardinal doses of coronavirus vaccines, according to the World Health Organization.

— Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

View nexus »

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Read Entire Article