Saudi Arabia has announced that it will strictly limit the number of people who can take part in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage because of the coronavirus, putting to rest the fears that Hajj might be cancelled altogether. Saudi Hajj Minister Mohammed Banten had asked Muslims to delay finalising their plans “until the situation is clear” back in March.

In a statement, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that the annual Holy pilgrimage would be restricted to a very limited numbers of pilgrims of all nationalities who are already residing in Saudi Arabia. The statement said that as COVID-19 cases continue to grow globally, and because of the risks of coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and from other countries, the Hajj will “take place this year with a limited number of pilgrims from all nationalities residing in Saudi Arabia only, who are willing to perform Hajj.”

“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings,” the statement added.


The Ministry also tweeted that people’s health and safety “is our priority”.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri shared the Urdu version of the press release and said that the KSA’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah contacted him via telephone to let him know about Saudi Arabia’s decision about this year’s Hajj.

Hajj is one of Islam’s most important religious obligations. Recently, singer Atif Aslam expressed his desire to recite the Azaan at the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.