Saturday Oct 02, 2021
PESHAWAR: Federal Minister for Religious and Minority Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri on Saturday said the government would not increase Hajj, Umrah expenses and continue its efforts to ensure the best possible facilities to the people.
Qadri, addressing the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected cabinet members of the Private Hajj Group Organisation, said coronavirus has gripped the entire world, but now, by the grace of Allah and with the cooperation of the nation, the pandemic was under control.
The minister administered oath to the newly elected officials and while congratulating them, asked them to work with the government to play their role in providing all possible facilities to the pilgrims.
The minister said the government is in contact with the Saudi government, adding that after being deprived of Hajj twice, there is now hope that the ban on Hajj and Umrah would be completely lifted.
“I assure the Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that we will do our best to offer them better facilities,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites in Makkah and Madina, had barred worshippers from abroad for a second year running and had restricted entry from within the kingdom under special conditions to guard against the coronavirus and its new variants.
Only 60,000 Saudi citizens and residents, aged 18 to 65, who were fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus and did not suffer from chronic diseases, were selected for the rite — a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
In previous years, more than two million pilgrims used to cover Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat, sitting close to each other in the scorching heat of the desert city of Makkah, carrying umbrellas and fans to keep cool as temperatures rose towards 40 degrees Celsius.
This year pilgrims, dressed in white robes signifying a state of purity, had to observe social distancing and wear face masks on Mount Arafat — the hill where Islam holds God tested Ibraham's (AS) faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS).