To Get All the World’s Muslims to
Hajj, It Would Take at Least 581 Years
Source: New York Times
At least 1.7 million foreign pilgrims are in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, this week for the hajj, the annual five-day pilgrimage that Muslims from around the world make to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad.
Amid growing demand and concerns for safety after deadly accidents, the Saudi government has been rapidly expanding Mecca’s hajj facilities to accommodate more pilgrims. At its peak in 2012, the hajj included 3.16 million pilgrims. But even at a rate of 3 million people per hajj, it would be impossible for all the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims to perform the Islamic duty of the pilgrimage in their lifetimes. In fact, for all Muslims who are alive today to perform hajj, it would take at least 581 years.
That’s just looking at the Muslims alive today — not accounting for future birth rates or for people who have already performed hajj, though a 2013 Pew survey of 39 countries found that 9 percent of Muslims had.
All Muslims who are physically and financially able to complete the hajj are supposed to do so at least once in their lives. Attendance by foreign pilgrims has grown more than tenfold since World War II. (In 2013, attendance quotas dropped to account for continuing construction in Mecca.)