Riyadh [Saudi Arabia], July 19 (ANI): Thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims gathered at Islam's holiest site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj by following COVID-19 protocols.
The Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, will conclude with the Eid al-Adha celebration. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it tries to visit it at least once in a lifetime.
According to Al Jazeera, 10,000 vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam's holiest site in Mecca on Sunday but remained socially distanced and wore masks as the coronavirus takes its toll on the Hajj for a second year running. Previously drawing some 2.5 million Muslims from all walks of life from across the globe, the Hajj pilgrimage is now almost unrecognisable in scale.
This year, 60,000 vaccinated citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia have been allowed to perform the Hajj due to continued concerns around the spread of the coronavirus. It's a far greater figure than last year's largely symbolic Hajj that saw fewer than 1,000 people from within the kingdom taking part.
The kingdom's Al Saud rulers have staked their legitimacy in large part on their custodianship of Hajj sites, giving them a unique and powerful platform globally among Muslims. The kingdom has gone to great lengths to ensure the annual Hajj continues uninterrupted, despite changes caused by the pandemic.
Only up to 10,000 people already residing in Saudi Arabia will participate in the five-day pilgrimage, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world that attended last year, as per Al Jazeera.
This is the second year in a row that Saudi Arabia limits the Haj pilgrimage to Muslims inside the Kingdom. However, only 10,000 Muslims were allowed to perform Hajj last year. (ANI)