Jeddah (UNA-OIC) – Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen welcomed the announcement made by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah that Saudi Arabia’s government has decided to organize Hajj this year under strict health precautions.
This shall be for a limited number of pilgrims from among only nationals and residents of Saudi Arabia to ensure the safe performance of the rites and protection of all pilgrims against the threats of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as indicated in the Ministry’s statement.
In his statement, Al-Othaimeen supported the decision of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, which is in line with all precautionary and preventive measures taken by the Kingdom, the OIC General Secretariat headquarters’ host country, since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“These measures have effectively reduced the negative effects of COVID-19 and stemmed its spread,” said the OIC chief, valuing the utmost care that Saudi Arabia attaches to the health and safety of the pilgrims.
“This has always been the approach of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques since Allah honored it with serving the Two Holy Mosques,” he added, noting the huge expansions of the holy sites and great capabilities of Saudi Arabia that enable it to organize Hajj under the severe conditions.
The Secretary General indicated that organizing the Hajj this year places Saudi Arabia in front of a great humanitarian and legal responsibility.
“Preservation of life is one of the essential priorities in the objectives of Sharia. This made the Kingdom take strict decisions and procedures in line with the current health conditions, established jurisprudential rules, and legal licenses that Allah Almighty has enacted for His worshippers when it is difficult for them to perform acts of worship or rituals,” elaborated Al-Othaimeen.
He stated that a large proportion of the pilgrims are usually elderly people who face the highest risk under the current conditions if they come to Hajj, pointing out that some Islamic countries announced they would not send their citizens for Hajj this year for fear of their safety.
The Secretary General concluded his statement by affirming the OIC’s support for the decision taken by the government of Saudi Arabia to preserve Muslims’ safety and health.
It is worth noting that the closing statement of the OIC Emergency Meeting held at the level of Foreign Ministers on COVID-19 on April 22 valued the efforts made by the member states and their religious leaders to prevent the spread of the pandemic and protect lives, including the temporary closure of mosques and places of worship.
In the same context, the meeting supported the measures taken regarding the Two Holy Mosques and Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as all additional measures adopted by member states, as a top priority necessitated by Sharia.
The meeting also stressed the importance of the timely decision taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to suspend Umrah and visits to the Prophet’s Mosque.
In a similar vein, the fourth recommendation of the virtual second Islamic Medical Jurisprudential Symposium of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) on COVID-19, held on 16 April, indicates that “States and governments may restrict individual freedom for the exigencies of the public good, including preventing entry to or exit from cities. It is also necessary to adhere to the decisions of states and governments on social distancing to contain the virus and prevent its spread. The objective of the ruler’s decisions is always the best interests of the people according to the relevant Sharia rules.”