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Hajj limitations, an act of God, say clerics

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A picture taken June 23, 2020 shows a few worshippers performing al-Fajr prayer at the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca. – Saudi Arabia has announced it will hold a “very limited” hajj this year, with pilgrims already in the kingdom allowed to perform the annual ritual as it moves to curb the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Muslims have been urged not to be disappointed with the decision of Saudi Arabian authority to limit the number of pilgrims for the 2020 holy exercise, and see it as an “act of God”.

Reputable clerics from various religious organisations that spoke with The Guardian, urged Muslim faithful who have earlier paid to perform hajj exercise not to be disappointed, but rather see the decision as a measure to preserve human lives, against the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia had in a statement said the 2020 hajj exercise, scheduled to take place next month, would welcome ‘very limited numbers’ of pilgrims already living in the country in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

It stated: “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”

In his reaction to the development, Chief Missioner, Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Imam Abdul-Azeez Morufu Onike, urged Ummah to accept it as a decree from Allah (SWT).

“It is natural for most intending pilgrims who might have been saving for years to carry out this religious obligation to be disappointed. However, what should be the overriding consideration for all Muslims should be the preservation of life as promoted by the objective of Shariah in Islam.

“The teaching of our noble Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) must also be borne in mind, he said, If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”

He said that those who had paid and planned to perform this year’s hajj might be surprised to find the reward for it in their scales of good deeds on the Day of Judgment.

“Our noble Prophet (S.A.W) says “Verily, Allah has recorded good and bad deeds and He made them clear. Whoever intends to perform a good deed but does not do it, then Allah will record it as a complete good deed. If he intends to do it and does so, then Allah the Exalted will record it as ten good deeds up to seven hundred times as much or even more. If he intends to do a bad deed and does not do it, then Allah will record for him one complete good deed. If he does it then Allah will record for him a single bad deed,” he said.

The Amir of The Muslim Congress (TMC), Dr Lukman AbdurRaheem, said the decision of Saudi Arabia was taken in the best interest of humanity.

“After months of consultation and deliberation with Islamic scholars and health professionals including advice from WHO, the Saudi authorities decided to maintain a middle-course, instead of an outright cancellation the option of limiting the number of pilgrims to that resident in Saudi Arabia was approved,” he said.

He urged intending pilgrims in Nigeria and hajj operators to reinforce their faith in preordainment or destiny.

The Grand Mufti of Conference of Islamic Organizations (CIO), Shaykh Dhikrullahi Shaafi, urged Muslim faithful who have paid to perform hajj not to view the decision of Saudi Arabia as punitive, but a proactive step is taken to safeguard lives of pilgrims from all parts of the world.

He said: “I have reiterated at different times that Islamic scholars identified five fundamental principles of Islamic law called Maqasid Shariah. These are preservations of faith or religion, preservation of life, protection of lineage, preservation of intellect and preservation of property.

He said hajj as a pillar of Islam occupies a pivotal position, but in the face of a threat to the life of humans and possible death, the preservation of life becomes the first priority.


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