There is an overwhelming sense of melancholy experienced by over two million Muslims worldwide, who had intended to perform the Hajj this year. Believers typically come from every country on earth to attend the largest annual assembly of faith in Makkah. This year, neither will the hajj assembly be so large nor will it cater for any people around the world, except a thousand locals from Hijaz.
Pandemic and Pilgrimage
This Hajj of 2020 has been adversely impacted and unceremoniously interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; a disease that has infected over 14 million people, and has thus far resulted in over 600,000 deaths worldwide. The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe and is the malefactor that has upended the plans of prospective hujjaaj, leading to the cancellation of their eagerly anticipated travel to the blessed city of Makkah. As disappointing and heart wrenching as this may seem, it should be noted that 2020 is not the first time in history that Hajj had to be readjusted. In the past 1,400 years, drought and famine (1048), political conflict (865, 930, 1256) and epidemics (967, 983, 1814, 1831, 1837, 1846, 1865, 1883 …) have jointly caused disruption or cancellation of hajj on more than forty occasions.
We certainly empathize with those who anticipated performing pilgrimage this year. They may have been physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually prepared and primed for the sacred journey; as they had aimed to complete the fifth pillar of Islam. Unable now to go, they surely feel a sense of deflation of their aspiration and a dispossession of their opportunity to fulfill their obligation. Many of them strove for years to prepare for this life-changing journey and some had saved their entire life-earnings in order to embark on this pilgrimage. They have combined all dimensions of the connotation of hajj in their effort, because literally “hajj” and its derivative meanings imply “to travel purposefully to a particular destination,” “to sincerely perform an important act” or “to undertake pilgrimage.” They may have exerted themselves to the best of their ability in this regard, except for the fact that they will unfortunately not be able to fulfill that obligation this year. We pray that the Almighty grants them the opportunity to fulfill their desire for pilgrimage and we take collective solace in the words of the Prophet (pbuh) when he said; “Whoever intends to perform a good deed but is unable to do so, then Allah will record it as a completed good deed.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Spirit of ‘Eid Lives On
This season of Hajj, we may have none of our relatives or friends on the plains of ‘Arafah or circumambulating the Ka’bah. This ‘Eid-ul-Adha we may be physically distanced in our prayers and gatherings, but we will nonetheless continue to strengthen our bonds through distant socializing. Even though our Eid-ul-Adha may not be in full congregation and our takbeers may not be reverberating as resoundingly in the mosques as usual; we still intend to imbibe the patience of Sayyidah Haajar and the obedience of her son Nabi Isma’il (peace be upon them). We undauntingly continue the sacrificial practice of Nabi Ibrahim (pbuh) who first announced the Hajj; and our hearts are ever beating in acknowledgement of the fact that Allah indeed is the greatest, while our lips utter … Allahu Akbar!