The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alh. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan on Wednesday said the commission is waiting for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to make an official decision on whether or not the 2020 Hajj pilgrimage will hold.
He said 2020 Hajj could still hold in spite of the fear and uncertainty due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He however said the pilgrimage may come with some stringent measures to safeguard the health of pilgrims.
He also said there is likelihood of the reduction of Hajj slots for all countries.
A statement by NAHCON’s Assistant Director for Information and Publication, Mousa Ubandawaki said Hassan spoke at a Zoom seminar on “The Future of Hajj and Umrah operations after the Pandemic” by the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (NAHCON).
He said: “Only the Saudi Arabian authorities can take the final decision. We can only take our own decision in the light of theirs”.
He said Saudi Arabia may eventually agree to conduct this year’s Hajj because of the Kingdom’s forward steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 and the number of recoveries recorded.
He highlighted some of the encouraging factors to include, the recent reopening of mosques for prayers; easing of lockdown across the country; the installation of Advanced Self-Sterilization machine at the gates of mosques to spray antiseptic fluids on pilgrims and the rate of recoveries of infected persons.
Other factors are reduction in the number of positive cases and the opening of six large diagnostic laboratories.
He added: “These are testimonies that the 2020 pilgrimage could be eventually held. All of these steps are pointers that the Saudi Government may be bracing up to organise 2020 Hajj and it is what has given me the optimism”
The NAHCON chairman however pointed out that the Saudi Arabia Government may impose some measures to contain Coronavirus including probable reduction of global allocation, and banning people with high – risk COVID-19 case like the elderly,
“in addition to health monitoring, there might be quarantine and disinfection of people aside observing the social distancing protocol in Mina, Arafat and in the precinct of Kaaba.
“But I still would believe that this may come with certain conditions. It may not be the usual way of doing Hajj. People might have to go through self- isolation or outright quarantine. Besides, the issue of social distancing may be adopted during religious rites in accommodation and transportation
Hassan, who described Hajj as a veritable platform on which Muslims pray fervently for spiritual uplifting, forgiveness of sins, and seek for personal needs, said that much as he prayed and hope for the Hajj to hold, he was not oblivious that it may come with some stringent measures, so as to safeguard the health and lives of people.
“I’m praying and I believe every one of us is praying too seeking the mercy and help of Allah that this pandemic passes away quickly.. But even then, we should not deceive ourselves to think that it would be like the previous ones”
Hassan pleaded with intending pilgrims to accept whatever decision taken by the Saudi Government as the Will of Allah.
He said Islam places more value on life than any religious rites.
He said the commission was taking steps to ensure the welfare of pilgrims whether the 2020 Hajj holds or not.
“As a Muslim that we are, let us continue to call on the Almighty Allah to have mercy. To assist us and decide whatever will be the best for us.
‘Our prayers should be let the Will of Allah prevail as He won’t saddle us with the burden or responsibility we can’t carry. Let’s also-ran support the initiatives outlined by the various arms of Government to combat the pandemic ”
He said the commission would continue ask pilgrims to abide by the Federal Government /NCDC guidelines and directives on social distancing and use of face mask among others.