IQNA

Pilgrims Flock to Mecca for First Hajj after Outbreak of Pandemic

15:08 - July 01, 2022
News ID: 3479527
TEHRAN (IQNA) – Thousands of pilgrims started arriving in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Friday, among some one million Muslims expected to attend the 2022 Hajj pilgrimage season.

Hajj pilgrims at Mecca Grand Mosque

 

It comes after two years of major disruption caused by the COVID pandemic.

Wrapped in white robes, with some carrying umbrellas against the burning desert sun, hundreds performed the first ritual of the Hajj, which involves walking in a circle around the Kaaba, the sacred building at the center of Mecca's Grand Mosque.

"Praise be God... It's impossible to describe my feelings right now," said Ahmed Sayed Mahmoud, an Egyptian pilgrim. "Being in the Grand Mosque and in the land of the two holy mosques makes me very happy."

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, allowed back foreign travelers this year to perform the Hajj. Only a few thousand Saudi citizens and residents attended the annual pilgrimage in the last two years as COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the global economy and curtailed travel.

However authorities have said only one million people can join the 2022 season, less than half of pre-pandemic levels, and access is restricted to pilgrims aged 18 to 65 who have been fully vaccinated or immunized against the virus and do not suffer from chronic diseases.

Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

In 2019, the last year before the pandemic struck, some 2.6 million people performed the Hajj, while around 19 million took part in the Umrah, another form of pilgrimage to Mecca which - unlike the Hajj - can be carried out at any time of the year.

 

 

Source: Reuters 

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