As States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards begins the registration of intending pilgrims for Hajj 2021, Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organization that monitors and reports Hajj and Umrah activities urges the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), to issue to the public, a new Hajj Registrations guidelines for 2021 Hajj exercise.
A statement jointly signed by its national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and publicity secretary Abubakar Mahmoud urges the apex hajj regulatory body to formulate a Hajj 2021 tentative guidelines adaptable to Covid 19 Hajj framework as obtained in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
IHR said “it observed that States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards that are currently registering Hajj 2021 intending pilgrims are using the Hajj 2019 guidelines without recourse to the Covid 19 Umrah template guidelines issued by Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
“We further observed that States Pilgrims Board that commenced Hajj 2021 registration so far harps on only e-passport, amount to be paid as deposit and banning of payment by proxy.
It also said that based on the “prevailing conditions of Coronavirus Pandemic at the time of Hajj, NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Boards should take Hajj 2021 as a special arrangement with new rules & regulations, eligibility criteria, age restrictions, Health and Fitness factors during Registration of pilgrims”
Moreover, Hajj Health Experts has agreed that KSA may allow only intending pilgrims that have sound health without underlying sicknesses like a Heart condition, Diabetics, Respiratory disorders, Pregnancies, and other serious illness for Hajj 2021.
It will be recalled that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had on the 1st of November, laid out new guidelines for pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia coming to perform Umrah. One of the major highlights is the age restriction and other health requirements.
Consequently, the Hajj Committee of India issued a Covid 19 compliance provisional Guidelines for Hajj 1442 (2021) as follows:
All Muslim Citizens of India can apply for Hajj 1442 (H) – 2021 pilgrimage except;
a. those applicants who have not completed the age of 18 years on 7th November 2020 and who have completed 65 years of age on or before 7th November 2020.
b. those having severe medical conditions such as Terminal Cancer, Heart Condition, Comorbidities, Advanced Cardiac, Respiratory, Liver, or Kidney Diseases, Infectious Tuberculosis Disease, or Senility are strictly not allowed at this stage due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation
c. pregnant Ladies, Infants, and Children below the age of 18 years because of Coronavirus Pandemic are also strictly restricted for Hajj 2021 as of now.
However “Hajj committee of India said the guidelines will be subject to final guidelines/norms as decided by KSA in due course”.
Based on the above, IHR, therefore, urges NAHCON to consider adopting, modifying, or creating a similar Hajj 2021 guideline for States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and agencies.
IHR said creating Hajj registration regulations in conformity with Covid 19 is important because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keenly observing hajj Registration processes in all Hajj participating countries as part of criteria to determine which countries may be selected or denied participation in Hajj 2021.
“A situation where each State Muslim Pilgrims boards adopt different registration process without any mention of Covid 19 compliance is not healthy for Hajj 2021”.
Such guidelines should connote age limit, health status, observing Covid 19 protocol at the venue of the Registration and minimum amount of deposit states can collect pending official announcement of the exact cost of Hajj 2021.