This Is What Hajj 2021 Looks Like Right Now


Ili •  Jul 20, 2021

The holy month of Zulhijjah and the major Hajj pilgrimage have officially kicked off in 2021 - but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, certain aspects of Hajj that were modified last year have continued to take place to this day to allow pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage safely. While the essential steps and meaning of the pilgrimage remain unchanged, the Hajj scene has changed significantly especially in times of the pandemic.

Here's What Hajj Looks Like In 2021

Conditions for performing Hajj

In previous years, Hajj attendees typically reach an estimate of 2.5 million visitors per year. However, only 60,000 out of the 500,000 Hajj applicants were selected to perform the Hajj this year. Those chosen were required to meet specific requirements such as being fully vaccinated with any of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

P.S. If you've been vaxxed, check out which countries you're able to visit based on your brand of jab

Credit: @masjidalharammakkah on Instagram

The Saudi government also disallowed foreign pilgrims from attending, limiting it to Saudi nationals and foreigners residing in Saudi. An age limit of 65 was also implemented, and no attendees with chronic illnesses were allowed to make the pilgrimage. Priority was also given to those who had never attempted Hajj in the last five years.

P.S. Here's a story from a Singaporean who managed to perform her Hajj in 2018 with her father and husband!

Health protocols at the holy sites

Hajj ministry spokesman, Hisham al-Saeed shared with AFP news agency, "“Every three hours, 6,000 people enter to perform the tawaf of arrival. After each group leaves, a sterilisiation process is carried out at the sanctuary." According to Al Jazeera, robots have been deployed to disinfect the area around Kaaba's busiest walkways! Plus, cleaners are tasked to sanitise the white marble spaces of the Grand Mosque that houses the Kaaba several times a day.

Credit: @masjidalharammakkah on Instagram

To meet COVID-19 health protocols, pilgrims were divided into groups for transport to holy sites. Bags were sterilised during the travel to Arafat and the pilgrims have been assigned specific seats to ensure social distancing. There's even a designated pathway laid out from the train stations to help them navigate the holy sites safely.

Similar to the year before, prepackaged meals and bottled ZamZam water are issued to pilgrims. Also, meals are being served to the pilgrims directly to their accommodations as buffets are not permitted in restaurants or hotels.

The use of Hajj Smart Card

Credit: @MoHU_En On Twitter

Pilgrims carrying out their Hajj this year will be able to access the Hajj Smart Card - a tool provided by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to better facilitate the Hajj pilgrims. It helps to ensure that all approved pilgrims will be linked to the available services and amenities such as camps, transport, hotels, cashless payment terminals and ATMs. They will also be able to identify crowded spots at the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah using the smart card.

The downsized pilgrimage is definitely a heartbreaking situation for many Muslims who may have saved or waited for decades to be able to attend to Hajj. However in times like this, it also brings to mind the infinite Mercy of Allah, and hopefully those who missed their chance this year (or the last) will be able to complete Hajj in the near future.

As of right now, the closest we can get to experiencing the atmosphere of Mecca is by virtual means and that's through this live feed of Masjid al-Haram. May we hope that next year's Hajj will be able to welcome even more of us to the holy city of Mecca ❤️

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