In Pictures: Hajj in Mecca through the COVID pandemic

Tens of hundreds of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest website in Mecca on Sunday however remained socially distanced and wore masks because the coronavirus takes its toll on the Hajj for a second yr working.

Previously drawing some 2.5 million Muslims from all walks of life from throughout the globe, the Hajj pilgrimage is now almost unrecognisable in scale.

The pared-down Hajj of this yr and final because of the COVID-19 pandemic not solely impacts the power of individuals exterior Saudi Arabia to fulfil the Islamic obligation but additionally the billions of {dollars} yearly that Saudi Arabia attracts from being the custodian of the holy websites.

The Islamic pilgrimage lasts about 5 days, however historically Muslims start arriving in Mecca weeks forward of time. The Hajj concludes with the Eid al-Adha celebration, marked by the distribution of meat to the poor world wide.

This yr, 60,000 vaccinated residents or residents of Saudi Arabia have been allowed to carry out the Hajj as a result of continued issues across the unfold of the coronavirus. It’s a far higher determine than final yr’s largely symbolic Hajj that noticed fewer than 1,000 folks from inside the kingdom collaborating.

The kingdom’s Al Saud rulers have staked their legitimacy largely on their custodianship of Hajj websites, giving them a singular and highly effective platform globally amongst Muslims. The kingdom has gone to nice lengths to make sure the annual Hajj continues uninterrupted, regardless of adjustments brought on by the pandemic.

Robots have been deployed to spray sanitising disinfectant across the cube-shaped Kaaba’s busiest walkways. It is right here the place the Hajj pilgrimage begins and ends for many.

Cleaners are sanitising the huge white marble areas of the Grand Mosque that homes the Kaaba a number of occasions a day.

“We are sanitising the floor and using disinfection liquids while cleaning it two or three times during (each) shift,” mentioned Olis Gul, a cleaner who mentioned he has been working in Mecca for 20 years.

The Hajj is one among Islam’s most necessary necessities to be carried out as soon as in a lifetime. It follows a route the Prophet Muhammad walked nearly 1,400 years in the past and is believed to finally hint the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they’re named within the Bible.

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