The 2020 hajj pilgrimage was canceled due to COVID-19.
On June 23, 2020, several news sites ran articles about the 2020 hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. On June 23, 2020, The New York Times posted an article titled, "The Hajj Pilgrimage is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World."
Claims were circulating across the MENA region.
The hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is usually one of the most highly-attended annual gatherings in the world. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year many people speculated that the pilgrimage would be canceled.
Our investigation found that instead of fully canceling the pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia announced on June 22, 2020 that it would allow only “very limited numbers” of people to attend. The decision followed weeks of discussion over whether the pilgrimage would be fully canceled or if Saudi Arabia would allow it to take place using symbolic numbers of attendees already residing in the country.
Usually over two million Muslims travel to Mecca to take place in the hajj as the fifth Pillar of Islam. The hajj moves from Mina to Mount Arafat and on for five to six days. According to Dr. Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, “The hajj is more than just a religious ritual. At its best, it is a symbol of the radical egalitarianism of Islamic ideals. Ideas and goods get exchanged, and so do mystical ideas.”
This is the first time that Saudi Arabia has closed off the hajj to all Muslims outside of the country. However, the hajj is not completely canceled, and up to a thousand Saudi Arabian Muslims plan to attend.