MAKKAH: The 45th annual Hajj Grand Symposium took place on Monday, with ministers, doctors, advisers and scholars on Monday discussing issues of health and spirituality related to the annual pilgrimage to Makkah.
The event, which was held online for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic, was inaugurated by Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Benten. Titled “Public Health Rules and their Scientific Applications in light of the Prophet’s Guidance and Practices,” it included five sessions that featured expert speakers from Saudi Arabia, the UK, the US, Malaysia and other countries. It covered a wide range of subjects in the fields of Prophetic medicine and preventive therapeutics.
The first session, “From Hajj to the World,” was moderated by Benten. In his opening speech, he said that Saudi Arabia is honored to serve the Two Holy Mosques, Islam and Muslims and care for Islamic affairs, issues and developments.
“This year, despite the global health circumstances related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Kingdom was keen to ensure that the fifth pillar of Islam is performed in a secure, healthy and safe manner, along with the great care of those who will be able to attend and perform Hajj,” he added.
Many of the scholars and medical practitioners who spoke at the event highlighted the precautions taken by authorities for this year’s Hajj, including limiting the number of pilgrims to a few thousand people already residing in the Kingdom, as a clear indication of the efforts being made by authorities as part of their responsibility to protect the lives and safety of pilgrims.
Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, the minister of Islamic affairs, said the Islamic Sharia’s wisdom gives “great importance to the preservation of worshipers’ safety and seeks to protect them from any harm while praying and performing their religious duties.”
He added: “During this year’s Hajj season, everybody is experiencing a new and different reality due to the coronavirus pandemic that has affected our daily lives through many aspects, such as physical distancing, staying home and taking all precautions before going outside.”
Sheikh Saad Al-Shathri, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars and an adviser to the royal court, spoke about the health standards adopted by the Saudi state and the necessary steps taken to ensure pilgrims’ safety and protect them from the virus. He praised the “wise decision to limit the number of pilgrims given the global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, the head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, stressed the importance of “abiding by the preventive instructions and measures adopted by the government, which include … paying attention to medicine and mental health, warning against myths and working to implement the Prophet’s hadith.”
He added: “The believers, in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy, are just like one body: when one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with sleeplessness and fever.”