TE24 International Desk:
One million Muslim pilgrims gathered in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday for the largest Hajj pilgrimage since the coronavirus epidemic severely reduced access to one of the five pillars of Islam. Saudi Arabia has decided to allow about 850,000 Muslims from abroad to make the annual pilgrimage. , Which begins today, marks a major step towards normalization after two years of limited Hajj for Saudi residents, the AP reports.
The 1 million foreign and domestic pilgrims participating are still far fewer than the 2.5 million Muslims who traveled for the pilgrimage in 2019, usually one of the largest gatherings in the world. Those doing the show this year must be under the age of 65, have been vaccinated against coronavirus and tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel. Pilgrims are selected from millions of applicants through an online lottery system.
Saudi officials visited the holy site on Wednesday and stressed their “readiness” to receive pilgrims with the goal of “maintaining public health”. After the coronavirus hit in 2020, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims already living in the state to attend, persuading historians to compare the site to the 1979 storm and dramatic closure by religious extremists. Last year, pilgrimage to Mecca was also limited. 60,000 fully vaccinated Muslims living in Saudi Arabia. Unprecedented obstacles have sent a shock wave through the Islamic world, destroying many believers who have been reserved for religious ceremonies for years.
This year, however, Saudi authorities are keen to relax the rules on the virus. Religious pilgrimages earned $ 12 billion before the epidemic and were considered the largest part of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product after oil.
The number of viral cases in Saudi Arabia has steadily risen to more than 500 a day, but last month the government lifted the state’s obligation to issue indoor masks and other virus warnings. About 70% of the country has been vaccinated against the virus.
Pilgrims at the sanctuary do not need masks or social distance this year as they did in the last two years. However, Muslims are forbidden to kiss or touch the cube-shaped Kaaba, the idol of God in the center of Mecca. The Qur’an says that all physically and financially capable Islamic believers should make the pilgrimage once in their lives.
Pilgrims from all over the world travel to Mecca for five days of intense worship and perform one ritual after another. About 1,400 years ago, the Hajj was followed in the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim and Ishmael following the path of Prophet Muhammad. Or Abraham and Ishmael, as they are
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