After COVID measures have been lifted, the Hajj pilgrimage begins in Saudi Arabia, with 2 million expected.

After COVID measures have been lifted, the Hajj pilgrimage begins in Saudi Arabia, with 2 million expected.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage returned to full capacity for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic on Monday as Muslim pilgrims in Mecca circled the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, before converging on a vast tent camp in the nearby desert.

According to Hayed althein, a spokesperson for the Saudi Hajj Ministry, more than 1.8 million pilgrims from all over the world have already gathered in and around Mecca for the Hajj, and the number is still growing as more pilgrims from Saudi Arabia join. Authorities have stated that they anticipate levels this year approaching those prior to COVID of more than 2 million.

Yehya Al-Ghanam, an Egyptian businessman, said he couldn’t put into words how he felt when he got to Mina, one of the biggest tent camps outside of Mecca where pilgrims will stay for most of the Hajj.

He declared, “Out of joy and happiness, tears will fall from my eyes.” I never sleep. I have only slept for an hour a day for 15 days, “overwhelmed by his pilgrimage’s emotions.

All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. The pilgrimage is one of Islam’s five pillars.

For travelers, a profoundly moving otherworldly experience pardons sins, carries them nearer to God and joins the world’s more than 1.8 billion Muslims. Before beginning their journey, some people put away money for years and wait for a permit.

The stories that the Quran tells about Ibrahim, his son Ismail, and Ismail’s mother Hajar are largely the focus of the Hajj rituals.

Since their recent arrival in Mecca, pilgrims have been making their way through the Kaaba to perform their religious rituals. The pilgrims traveled to Mina by foot or bus, just like they did on Monday.

Soldiers sprayed pilgrims with water in Mina to cool them down in the scorching desert plain, where there is little shade. In order to get ready for the upcoming rites, the devoted set up camp in their tents, took a break in the rows of cubicles, and prayed together.

Pilgrims will make their way to Mount Arafat, a hill in the desert where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have given his last sermon, on Tuesday. After that, they go to a location called Midlife to gather pebbles for the symbolic stoning of devil-themed pillars in Mina. The celebratory holiday known as Eid Salah, observed by Muslims all over the world and marked by the final three days of the Hajj, coincides with the distribution of the meat to those in need.

The Hajj saw over 2.4 million pilgrims participate in 2019. Saudi Arabia limited the pilgrimage to a few thousand citizens and locals in 2020, amid global coronavirus lockdown. Due to Saudi Arabia’s restriction on foreign pilgrims, just under 900,000 people attended last year.


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