By Islam Uddin
Decision taken due to coronavirus pandemic, registration of 900 pilgrims deferred to 2021
Singapore on Friday announced its citizens will not perform the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said the registration of 900 pilgrims who had signed up this year will be pushed forward to 2021.
“In consultation with MOH [Ministry of Health], [MUIS] has decided that, as a responsible stakeholder, it is only prudent for Singapore to defer its Haj 2020 plans for all our 900 pilgrims to the following year,” read a statement by the council.
Singapore’s Fatwa Committee, which issues religious guidance to Muslims, also supported the decision to not send pilgrims to Saudi Arabia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Committee is of the opinion that in the current context, not all the pre-conditions for a safe Haj are met, and therefore, they recommend that the Singapore delegation defer its Haj plans in order to avoid potential harm,” the statement said.
With over 26,000 cases, Singapore is the currently the hardest-hit country in Southeast Asia and is taking extensive measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Saudi Arabia is yet to decide whether it will proceed with this year’s Hajj, scheduled for late July.
Around 2.5 million people attended last year’s Hajj, which Muslims are required to perform at least once in their life if possible.
The kingdom, which has reported nearly 47,000 cases and close to 300 deaths so far, suspended the year-round Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, in March.
The situation is far from under control in Saudi Arabia at the moment, with more than 2,000 new cases confirmed on Thursday.
Earlier this week, authorities announced a curfew for the five-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, starting from May 23.
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