The National Chief Imam, Sheikh (Dr) Osman Nuhu Sharubutu has welcomed the decision by Saudi Arabia to bar international Hajj pilgrims this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia on Monday declared that this year’s pilgrimage had been restricted to very limited number of people, specifically those already residing within the Kingdom as part of measures to contain the pandemic
“The Office of the National Chief Imam supports the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and commends the Guardian of the No Holy Mosques, King Salman for the wise decision and appropriate action taken.
“It is the understanding and believes of the National Chief Imam that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took this decision to protect Muslims around the world from contracting the deadly and contiguous COVlD-l9 disease”, the National Chief Imam ONCI said.
A statement issued by the Alhaji Khuzaima Mohammed Osman, the Personal Assistant to the National Chief Imam in Accra yesterday, said despite the importance of the Hajj, safety should be considered first.
“In as much as Hajj is obligatory on physically strong and financially sound Muslims at least once in their life time, this year’s Hajj with COVlD-l9 poses a threat to human health as pilgrims are crowded at religious sites”, it said.
As a result of the proliferating COVlD-l9 cases across the globe and the lack of vaccines, it said, there was the need to keep social distancing protocols among millions of pilgrims to preserve lives in accordance with Islamic principles.
“We pray to Allah to continue to protect the two Holy Mosques, protect and bless the Guardian and Muslims around the World. We pray to Allah to prolong our lives with great health to witness yet many more Hajjs”, the statement said.
Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam which requires Muslims in good health and who could afford to visit Mecca to stand before the structure known as the Kaaba, and praise Allah at least once in a lifetime.
But for the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated two million people would have visited Mecca and Medina. As of Monday, Saudi Arabia had recorded 161,005 cases of infection and 1,307 deaths.
The country lifted a nationwide lockdown at the weekend. The restriction on Hajj is said to be the only way to observe social distance.