“It is the dream of every Muslim believer to visit Mecca and do the hajj,” says Abdul-Halim al-Akoum 61, who is from a small mountain village in Lebanon. “But the pandemic came with no warning and took away that dream.”
On Monday, the government of Saudi Arabia announced that it will strictly limit the number of people who could take part in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca due to the coronavirus pandemic. Performing the pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam.
According to the New York Times, the news of this year’s hajj sent “shock waves of sadness and disappointment across the Muslim world, upending the plans of millions of believers to make a trip that many look forward to their whole lives and which, for many, marks a profound spiritual awakening. A 72-year-old retired port worker in Pakistan will stay home, despite his six children having pooled their money to finance his trip. A mother in Kenya will forgo visiting sites she has long dreamed of seeing. An Egyptian school administrator named Zeinab Ibrahim burst into tears.”
“It was my only wish,” commented Ms. Ibrahim. “To cancel it completely is such a shame.'”