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Mecca pilgrimage hangs in balance over COVID-19

By Farooq Kasule

Added 8th June 2020 04:24 PM

The secretary-general of Uganda Bureau of Haj Affairs (UBHA), Sheikh Zakariya Kyewalyanga, said people with existing bookings should not make further payment until the Saudi authorities make a conclusive communication in regard to this year’s pilgrimage.

Mecca pilgrimage hangs in balance over COVID-19

Muslim leaders bidding farewell to pilgrims destined for Mecca, Saudi Arabia some time back. (File photo)

The secretary-general of Uganda Bureau of Haj Affairs (UBHA), Sheikh Zakariya Kyewalyanga, said people with existing bookings should not make further payment until the Saudi authorities make a conclusive communication in regard to this year’s pilgrimage.

PILGRIM   MECCA

Muslims should not enter into contracts with Haj tour operators for a pilgrimage to Mecca given the uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The secretary-general of Uganda Bureau of Haj Affairs (UBHA), Sheikh Zakariya Kyewalyanga, said people with existing bookings should not make further payment until the Saudi authorities make a conclusive communication in regard to this year's pilgrimage.

Kyewalyanga said although some of the Haj bureaus are managed by eminent people, the unscrupulous operators could use this chance to misappropriate their funds.

"It is better for the intending pilgrims to wait until we tell you to pay. We expect an official communication from the Saudi authorities soon," Kyewalyanga said.

In February this year, Saudi Arabia authorities temporarily banned Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. With the lesser pilgrimage already suspended, concerns are mounting over whether Haj will take place this year.

After they got married this year, Muhammad Mugenyi and Zuraikah Nakabugo decided they would embark on the Haj pilgrimage. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 seems to have shuttered their dream.

What is Haj?

Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam and a Muslim believer is required to make the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime. This year's Haj was slated for August 22, but there are fears it may not take place thanks to COVID-19.


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