Minister: Decision on Hajj likely after June 15
State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on Friday said Saudi Arabia, the host country of Hajj, will probably have a decision over this year's congregation by June 15.
Abdullah said they are touching the Kingdom. "We'll determine our next step after consulting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after the host country requires a decision over Hajj," he told UNB.
"We're prepared for just about any sort of decision."
He said the registration procedure for the aspirant Hajj pilgrims was already completed and noted that the authorities will be ready to send pilgrims on a brief notice.
This year, the number of aspirants was low because of the coronavirus pandemic.
If Saudi Arabia decides never to host Hajj congregation this season as a result of the pandemic, the aspirants who've registered will get priority next year.
"Those who've already deposited money for Hajj don't need to worry. You'll receive priority next year. Even the amount will be returned in the event that you change your mind for the time being. I Guarantee that," Abdullah said.
Shahadat Hossain Taslim, president of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), told UNB that they've completed registration process of the aspirant pilgrims and so are prepared to send them once Saudi requires a positive decision.
This season, 137,198 Bangladeshis were scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia to perform hajj - 17,198 under government management and 120,000 under private management.
According to Religious Affairs Ministry, 64,594 persons registered to this year - 3,457 under government management and 61,594 under private management.
In February, the Cabinet approved the draft Hajj Package-2020, fixing minimum cost for an intending pilgrim at Tk 3.15 lakh under package-3 managed by the government.
In March, the authorities of Saudi Arabia issued a directive asking their Bangladeshi counterpart to suspend activities linked to Hajj until further notice. But Bangladesh continued the registration process until April.
This year, Hajj is likely to happen on July 30 (9 Zilhaj) at the mercy of the sighting of the moon.
Diseases and Hajj
Saudi Arabia, like rest of the world, is grappling with the highly contagious coronavirus. Until Friday, the kingdom had 95,748 confirmed cases. Amid the outbreak, it has been very difficult to carry regular congregations.
But cancelling the hajj means a massive monetary hit for the united states and many businesses globally. An incredible number of Muslims go to the kingdom every year, and the pilgrimage is not cancelled because the founding of the Saudi Kingdom in 1932.
There are reports that the very first time an epidemic of any sort caused hajj to be cancelled was an outbreak of plague in AD 967. And drought and famine caused the Fatimid ruler to cancel overland hajj routes in AD 1048, reports AP.
Meanwhile, throughout the 19th century, Cholera outbreaks in multiple years, claimed thousands of pilgrims' lives during the Hajj.
For much of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century, cholera remained a "perennial threat" and caused frequent disruption to the total annual hajj.
So did the plague. An outbreak of cholera in India in 1831 claimed a large number of pilgrims' lives on the way to execute Hajj.
Hajj was frequently interrupted through the entire mid-19th century with so many outbreaks in such quick succession.