The very first verse of the Qur’an revealed that our universe is not alone but part of an infinite multi-universe, commanding the believers to proclaim praises of Almighty God, Lord of the worlds. The other verses taught us that He created everything; He owns everything; Master of multi-universe; created man and taught him everything.
The scientific achievements and discoveries of the 19th and 20th centuries have even launched human being into outer space and converted the whole world of ours into a global village. This global togetherness has helped Muslims from around the world to engage in the fifth pillar of Islam, the duty to perform Hajj, reaching a level of approximately between 2 and 3 million in the year 2019. Now, in 2020 the pandemic of COVID-19 has forced Saudi Arabia to make an announcement of limiting the number of Muslims performing Hajj to only those living in the Saudi Kingdom, stopping Hajjis from rest of the world to enter Saudi Arabia for the purpose of performing Hajj.
A devastating shock was felt throughout the world because more than two million Muslims had intended to perform Hajj this year. This is not the first time Hajj had to be readjusted. As a matter of fact, in the past drought, famine, cholera, and plague calamities have caused disruption in Hajj.
A Muslim is required to observe and endure the vicissitude of time and history, fortified by a quality of tranquility, calmness, and of timelessness. This is at the heart of the Islamic faith. We are now facing alternatives to which our ancestors were never exposed. Prominent scholars of Islamic institutions, Muslim jurists of contemporary Muslim world have even spoken in the past about Hajj and Umrah because jurisprudence is the principal religious science of Islam. Under the prevailing circumstances and in the presence of COVID-19 Coronavirus, and in order to conform to the Islamic beliefs and to walk on the straight path without stumbling, let us consider one Hadith and also what the prominent scholars of the twentieth century have said.
One of the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) says, “If you hear of a 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.”
In early 1990’s the President of Al-Azhar University, Dr. Abdul Fattah Al-Sheikh, has said that "If a Muslim properly performs the Hajj once, then offering financial assistance for the treatment of the sick and for helping the poor is more acceptable than repeating the Hajj once or twice again." Dr. Hamid Mahmoud Ismail, a professor at the University says that charity is preferable to a voluntary Hajj because the people’s necessities are very important and to meet those needs is something that is replete with rewards, that in every country there are needy people. Sheikh Salah Nassar, the head of Imams of Egypt’s Ministry of Endowment, also said that donating to charitable and humanitarian projects is preferable to voluntary Hajj, adding that it is enough for a Muslim to perform the Hajj once in his lifetime and he should give a chance to others to do the same.
A Muslim should be able to make decisions based on his/her financial conditions. The most important thing is not to give up hope, place trust in Allah, remain patient and don’t be sad, and receive rewards in full without reckoning. At this point in time it seems to some people to:
- Keep on the financial arrangement made for Hajj 2020 intact and make an intention to go to Hajj in 2021.
- Provide financial assistance to poor relatives and needy who are suffering from the wrath of the pandemic; make arrangements anew for Hajj 2021.
- Take a closer look at the statement made by scholars shown in the text of this article and reflect, ponder, and then make some sound decisions.
This suggestion in its own way represents a particular perspective.
Mohammad Yacoob, former Vice Chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles, is a retired industrial engineer and an engineering proposals analyst who lives in Los Angeles, California.