Pilgrims’ progress to Mecca halted, Haj funds being used for Covid-hit

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Mohammed Wajihuddin

This article was first Published on Jul 7, 2021, at – : https://bit.ly/3wovAur


In the first wave of Covid-19 we utilised our Haj funds to buy ration and food for the needy. In the second wave, we directed the money to pay hospital bills, buy medicines and oxygen cylinders for the poor,” said Pervez, an Ahmednagar-based businessman and corporator.

As the pilgrimage to Mecca—Haj is annual, while Umrah or a small pilgrimage can be performed through the year —for Muslims living outside the Saudi Arabian kingdom have been put on hold, multiple Haj and Umrah pilgrims have channelized their money for charitable work. Buying ration, paying school fees or hospital bills, buying oxygen concentrators or remdesivir injections are some of the activities that got attention even as pilgrims’ progress to Islam’s holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina came to a halt.

Mumbai-based Iqbal Memon Officer and his wife had performed Umrah in Ramzan without a break for two decades till Covid-19 forced them to cancel it in 2020. “Even if the situation had improved and the Saudis had allowed foreigners to perform Umrah in Ramzan, we would not have gone there. We decided to spend the money (around Rs 5 lakh) in bringing relief to people closer home and gather blessings rather than seek blessings by visiting the holy sites,” said Officer, a businessman and president of the All India Memon Jamaat Federation. Though Officer has performed Haj thrice—only one Haj in one’s lifetime is obligatory on those who can afford it, while Umrah is a non-obligatory pilgrimage—he said he knows many members of the Memon community who have performed Haj more than 20 times.

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