The Saudi authorities should cancel hajj this year
Saudis have not not been transparent where they spend the revenue from Hajj since the passing away of King Faisal.16 Maret 2020 19:10
Jamaah bertawaf di kompleks Masjid Al-Haram, Kota Makkah, Arab Saudi, Juni 2018. (Faisal Assegaf/Albalad.co)
World Health Organization (WHO) declared corona virus Covid-19 as a pandemic last week and this corona outbreak has spread to 149 countries. More than 158,000 persons were being infected and almost 6,000 died. In Saudi Arabia alone, 118 people being infected, include 48 in Makkah.
This dire situation has cause concerned among muslims in the world that hajj ritual can be cancelled this year. Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, a Makkah historian who was born in Makkah, suggests the Saudi authorities to cancel hajj because of a corona pandemic.
It should be suspended because of health. However the hajj has been cancelled many times in history before in Islamic history due to disease, activities of bandits, and raidors," said Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, the Executive Director of the Islamic Heritage Foundation, in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp today.
Do you think the Saudi government should cancel hajj this year?
I think the Saudi authorities should consider this issue for hajj in Ramadan because as the weather starts to get warmer the corona can die out in the Kingdom.
Why do you think hajj must be cancelled this year?
It should be suspended because of health. However the hajj has been cancelled many times in history before in Islamic history due to disease, activities of bandits, and raiders.
The most famous cancellation was in the 10th century AD. As the obscure sect Qarmations not considered to be muslim based in Eastern Arabia, who established their own state under Abu Taher al Janabi. Their belief was based on Ismaili Shia Islam. They considered the hajj to be a pagan ritual and in 930 AD Abu Taher carried out a vicious attack on Makkah.
In 1000 AD the hajj was cancelled for a much prosaic reason with rising costs with travel in 1831 a plague from India killed nearly three quarters of the pilgrims performing hajj. While between 1837 and 1892 infection killed hundreds of pilgrims on a daily basis.
Hadith of ﷺ "if you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it, but if the plague breaks out in a place where you are in, do not leave that place.
Do you think the Saudi government will decide to cancel hajj?
It really depends of what happens close to Ramadan, as hajj if after. They need to see what will be in Ramadan.
As far as you know how much billions of dolar Saudi will lost because of the cancellation of umrah and hajj?
At least US$ 100 billion.
There are currently 118 persons infected by Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia, include 48 in Makkah. Do you think these figures should be the main consideration to cancel hajj?
Do you think the cancellation of hajj will tarnish Saudi image in muslim world?
No, l think the public will think that it was for the good cause to protect against the wide spread.
For a very long time, do you think Saudi always be transparent in their revenue from hajj and how they use it?
Saudi's have not not been transparent where they spend the revenue from Hajj since the passing away of King Faisal.
What are the evidences fof that claim?
The system is curropt as there is no open accounts for the public or the muslim world to view including the Muslim World League.
Do you mean Saudi never announce how much they gain from hajj every year and they never disclose for what purpose they use that money?
They only disclose only some not all of the revenue.
And how did King Faisal make it transparent?
The King Faisal archives on expenditure were transparent and are in the archives. As well as the Muslim World League.
There was a claim that Saudi has used their money from hajj to fund their war in Yemen. Do you think it was a reasonable claim?
I think that would be reasonable because they would not use their own personal wealth
If there is no transparency in the manage of hajj revenue, why leaders from Islamic countries do not question about that?
Most of the leaders of the muslim world don't question because they are under the Saudi influence of the petrol dollars. Except few, such as Iran, but then they are accused of being anti Saudi and Shia.
Therefore is it urgent to manage hajj and umrah under OIC leadership?
Absolutely the hajj and umrah should be under the OIC.
Comparing with the infrastructure building to support hajj, do you think is it equal with the revenue Saudi get from hajj every year?
No, they receive more revenue from Hajj. As some of the infrastructure is private. Also the land around Masjid Al-Haram is the most expensive in the world per square foot, so the government is making money from the development too.
How much their revenue from hajj and umrah every year in the last ten years?
At least 12 billion each year to 22 billion US dollars.