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Photo credit: HAIDAN VIA UNSPLASH

Haj deferred for Singapore pilgrims due to COVID-19

This would be the second year Haj has been deferred.

Jeevana Kalaithasan

Obsessed with chocolate, TikTok and baking.


Published: 28 May 2021, 12:33 PM

On May 27, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) announced that the Haj plans for Muslim pilgrims from Singapore has been deferred. 

This would be the second year in a row due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“An increasing number of countries around the world are reporting new waves of infections and the coming months likely will remain challenging,” said the council.

With the health and safety of the pilgrims in mind, the decision was also supported by the Fatwa Committee. 

The Haj places will be re-allocated to the affected pilgrims next year. However, as the current conditions are unpredictable, the eligibility to perform the Haj will still be subject to the new requirements made by Saudi Arabia depending on the COVID-19 situation at the time. 

For last year’s Haj, Saudi Arabia’s authorities said only those who were immunised against the virus were allowed to perform the Umrah

 

Before the pandemic, more than two million people would perform the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, with Singapore allowed 900 pilgrims a year since 2018. PHOTO CREDITS: HAIDAN VIA UNSPLASH

 

Although MUIS said that it has “full confidence” in Saudi Arabia’s pandemic management, it also said that Singapore has its own considerations to safeguard the health and well-being of Singaporean pilgrims. 

The council noted on May 25 that Saudi Arabia had not announced its official decision about this year’s Haj and is unclear about whether the pilgrimage will be open to international pilgrims. 

According to MUIS, even if the Haj is open to international pilgrims, they will be subject to considerations such as age, vaccination status, COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements in both countries. 

“These additional restrictions will require significantly much longer travel duration, and also result in significantly higher Haj package prices and affect the pilgrims’ preparations for Haj,” it said. 

The decision is also supported by the Association of Muslim Travel Agents and Haj travel agencies, who agreed on the importance of protecting the community and minimising the spread of the virus.

MUIS is working with Saudi authorities to facilitate the refund of deposits, and pilgrims will be contacted by their respective travel agencies within the next two weeks regarding their refunds. 

“This decision will also safeguard the health and well-being of our Singaporean pilgrims and the community at large from the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” added MUIS.

Pilgrims who have questions may contact their respective Haj general service agents or MUIS. 


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