It may be hard to imagine, but this year’s hajj pilgrimage—an event that normally brings 2 million+ Muslims worshippers a year to the sacred city of Mecca—began yesterday with will only about 1,000 lucky pilgrims, Arab News reports.
The rules are stringent:
- The area around the Kaaba has been deep-cleaned and touching it is not an option.
- Instead of the usual massive tent city, there’s mandatory COVID-19 tests and quarantines, and amenity bags containing face masks, disinfectant, and sterilized pebbles for the Jamarat stoning ritual.
- Participants were vetted online and given movement tracking bracelets, Bloomberg reports. Only 20–50-year-olds were eligible.
Despite the unusual circumstances, Faridah Binti Bakti Yahra was thrilled to be selected. “It’s such beautiful moment for me.”
The 39-year-old nurse has one particular prayer planned for her journey: for the pandemic to end.