After seven difficult months of closure due to pandemic, Saudi Arabia announces the lift of ban on the Umrah pilgrimage!

All Praise to Allah Almighty, the Ummah has been blessed to receive the news/announcement of the lift of ban on Umrah Pilgrimage for Muslims all over the world, and from fourth October onwards, most Muslims, apart from those traveling from certain specified countries shall be able to visit the Holy Land of Mecca and perform Umrah.

What is Umrah

Umrah refers to the pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken around the year, by Muslims from across the world. It attracts millions of visitors every year. This is not to be confused with the Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place once a year. Saudi Arabia held a heavily downsized hajj pilgrimage in July this year, over concerns of the spread of Covid-19 amongst the people. Instead of the more than 2 million hajj visitors, only thousands were able to participate this year sadly.

Preparation for Hajj amidst pandemic

Thousands instead of millions of pilgrims arrive for Hajj. Faithful Muslims are obliged to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lives, as long as they are healthy and of age and “if they find a possibility to do so,” according to the Quran (surah 3, verse 97). The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Masks and gloves on

In past, tens of thousands of faithful have thronged to Mecca. This year, however, crowds were lesser— only 10,000 people were allowed to attend. Participants were chosen in an online process. Their temperature was checked upon arrival in Mecca, and they were quarantined for two weeks.

The pilgrims performed Tawaaf around The Kaaba in a manner never seen before

Phased reopening, online reservations

During the first phase, 6,000 nationals will be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage in Mecca per day. The second phase launches on October 18, allowing a maximum of 15,000 pilgrims. Whereas from November 1, the capacity will be raised to 20,000 pilgrims per day. Visitors will have to make reservations through an online application for a specific date and time to pray. They will also be able to select modes of transport and meeting points through apps.