Saudi Arabia has limited the number of Hajj pilgrims to 1,000 — 70 percent of whom are expats within the Kingdom — as the world unites against the common enemy of COVID-19, the disease that restricted daily life and decimated industries and economies.
A statement by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said: “This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with the pandemic, in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings.”
Millions of pilgrims unite annually for the Hajj in Makkah. On the ninth day of Dul Al-Hijjah, pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy, also known as Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stood and delivered his farewell sermon. Several historical references refer to the Mountain of Mercy as the location where Adam and Eve reunited. Islamic doctrines confirm that the Kabaa, or the House of God, was built by Abraham, the father of prophets, and his son Ismael. Muslim pilgrims to this day follow Abraham’s second wife Hagar’s ritual in her search for water between the hills of Safa and Marwa.
Today, there are contemporary historians who maintain that the mountain where God spoke to Moses is located in Saudi Arabia and not Sinai, specifically on Jabal Al-Lawz, a 2,580-meter peak in northwest Saudi Arabia. The story of Adam and Eve, the Ten Commandments and the Exodus are shared beliefs between the Abrahamic faiths.
The Saudi Vision 2030 project to spark a neo-renaissance has had success in empowering and protecting women’s rights, promoting interfaith dialogue and investing in archaeological research to preserve historical Muslim and world heritage.Vision 2030 has also confronted Islamophobia, which is a result of failing to understand the true nature of Islam, which preaches love, peace and tolerance between the Abrahamic faiths and the world at large.
Saudi Arabia is not just the heart of the Muslim world, but also the center of the ancient world. As the host of the G20 this year, the Kingdom is committed to supporting international cooperation in order to serve the welfare of humanity. The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) is one of many Saudi initiatives founded to alleviate the suffering of those in need around the world.
For Muslims, Hajj is a time for self-reflection and evaluation. It is a time for the faithful to renew their commitment for the betterment of humanity. Let us hope and pray that a united global front can succeed in overcoming the menace of the pandemic and help create a world that is free of conflict, disease and poverty.
Lina K. Almaeena is a member of the Shoura Council, co-founder of Jeddah United Sports Co. and is on the Forbes list of the most powerful 200 women in the Middle East. She is also a member of the top 20 young leaders in the MENA region.