A Muslim man probably preparing for the hajj, wearing the towel-like robe over his shoulder.
This year’s Hajj is very much affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and only open to Muslims who are residing in Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam which means that – if they are able to – all Muslims are obliged to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime.
The Hajj is scheduled for 29-31 July 2020 in Saudi Arabia. Dates may vary slightly in other parts of the world, based on the sighting of the moon that defines the beginning of the lunar month.
In Luke 7, Jesus says to a sinful woman, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Jesus has the authority and power to forgive all of our sins through His atoning sacrifice on the cross and His glorious resurrection. However, the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world today reject God’s mercy by rejecting Jesus as Saviour. Instead, they go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in order to receive forgiveness of sins from Allah.
Consider this one Hadith (the sayings of Muhammad): It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: I heard the Prophet say: “Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.” (Al-Bukhaari, 1449; Muslim, 1350)
Therefore, the Hajj is the pinnacle of life for Muslims. They seek not only the forgiveness of sins but also to deepen their allegiance to Allah.
Everything that Islam forbids comes with a warning of punishment in this life and in the hereafter. In their faith and by performing Hajj, Muslims believe there are also rewards in the form of a blessing or a sign of God’s favour, but the most sought-after reward for many is the forgiveness of their sins.
The Hajj begins on the 8th day of the 12th month of Dhul Hijjah in the Islamic calendar. In previous years, over two million Muslims from all over the world would flock to Mecca to perform sacred acts and follow the steps of Muhammad their prophet.
Because of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Hajj will be very limited this year. For the first time since 1932 – when the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded – the foreign ministry of Saudi Arabia issued that only Muslims who already reside in Saudi Arabia are allowed to perform Hajj.
Muslims from outside Saudi Arabia therefore had to cancel their long-planned trip. Many have lost the non-refundable deposits they made for the trip to Mecca because tour operators have gone bankrupt. A trip for the Hajj can cost up to $15,000 per person and many Muslims save money for years in order to pay for the trip.
Pray that God will use these circumstances to work in the hearts and minds of Muslims. That their eyes are opened and they will know that forgiveness of sins is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in empty ritualism or performing certain acts.
Throughout the years there has been an increasing commercialisation of the Hajj. Pray that Muslims will see this and realise how wrong this is and actually goes against their own core beliefs in Islam. Pray that through this disillusionment Muslims will seek for the truth and grace as promised by Jesus Christ in the Bible.