MAKKAH: Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah inaugurated on Sunday in Makkah the 46th edition of the Grand Hajj Symposium.
The event, titled “Hajj after the Pandemic: Rituals and Care,” involves speakers, scholars, jurists and thinkers from the Kingdom and the Muslim world.
This year’s Grand Hajj Symposium will include sessions, discussions and lectures over a two-day period.
In the event’s opening session,“From Hajj to the World,” Al-Rabiah said that the COVID-19 pandemic “shocked the world in the beginning of 2020 in an unexpected and unprepared way.” He added that no one in the Muslim world could have foreseen the interruption that the pandemic brought to mosques, Hajj, Umrah, as well as education and daily life.
Al-Rabiah praised the decision of the Saudi leadership to continue holding Hajj amid the pandemic.
He said: “We recommended not to hold the Hajj rituals for that year (2020). However, King Salman decided not to interrupt this ritual and to limit the number of pilgrims to 1,000. And Hajj was held while respecting all precautionary and preemptive measures which guarantee the safety of the pilgrim, and the results were assuring and sound.”
A year later, he added, another successful Hajj season was held. Al-Rabiah said: “Especially that we were still at the beginning of providing vaccines to the Kingdom and the rest of the countries in the world, with giving priority to the safety of pilgrims. The Kingdom at the time decided to limit the number of pilgrims to 60,000 to guarantee their safety.”
Hajj this year “is limited to 1 million pilgrims upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Health,” he said. The decision allows Saudi authorities “to provide health services and ensure the safety of pilgrims.”
Sheikh Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, said that the Saudi state has dedicated all its potential to serving the Hajj system.
He added that the Kingdom has promoted “amazing development” in Hajj through digital transformation, artificial intelligence, smart robots and translation technologies. These efforts convey a message of moderation, security, peace, tolerance, dialogue and coexistence to the world, Al-Sudais said.
He said that it is forbidden to transform Hajj rituals into political slogans or demonstrations, and that the pilgrimage should be performed in a message of moderation, justice and peace.