Millions of people undertake the Hajj every year. These photos show how different the yearly Muslim pilgrimage is this year because of the pandemic.

hajj 2013 2020

  • Over two million people from across the world visit Mecca every
    year to go on a pilgrimage, the Hajj, during the last month of the
    Islamic year.
  • This year, only about 10,000 people are expected to attend, per
    rules set forth by the Saudi Arabian government.
  • Pilgrims are expected to remain in quarantine before starting
    the pilgrimage and to observe social distancing during it.
  • Take a look inside what many
    Muslims consider
    one of the
    holiest�practices, now
    being undertaken with
    coronavirus-era regulations that involve putting holy water in a
    plastic bottle.
  • Visit Business
    Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ruqayyah Moynihan contributed to this report.

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Approximately two million visitors make a religious pilgrimage to
Mecca, Saudi Arabia, each year.

Middle East Eye

Mecca is one of the holiest cities in the Islamic religion. All
Muslims who are physically and financially able to do so are
strongly encouraged to make the pilgrimage, the Hajj, at least once
in their lifetime.

Source: BBC,


Pilgrims usually undertake the Hajj during the last month of the
Islamic year, Dhu al-Hijjah, and around the same time as Eid
al-Adha. It usually takes place over several days and as the
Islamic calendar is lunar and shorter than the Gregorian calendar,
the dates change from year to year.

Middle East Eye


During the Hajj, travelers take part in prayers with other Muslims
from across the world. They engage in rituals like stoning a wall
and walking to different spots of religious significance in
“solidarity with Abraham who is seen as the father of monotheism,”
Dr. Ibrahim Moosa of Notre Dame University told Newsweek in 2018.

National Geographic

Many Muslims consider the Hajj to be as much contemplative and
symbolic as it is physical — a chance to repent for past sins and
start afresh. According to Islamic scripture, the prophet Abraham
almost sacrificed his family in a test of faith to God. The Hajj
and Eid al-Adha pay tribute to this sacrifice.

Perspective in Religious Studies

This is what crowds looked like in 2012 when over three million
attendees made their way to Mecca. That year saw the highest
attendance in a ten-year period, according to Statista.


This year, with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage across
the globe, the Hajj looks very different. It started on July 28 and
will run to the end of the week.

A maximum of 10,000 pilgrims are expected to participate this year
— a significant scale-back from the usual two million-strong

Al Jazeera

In a statement shared on Twitter, the foreign ministry said only
those who already live in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to perform
the Hajj.

Al Jazeera
, Twitter/@KSAmofaEN

In 2018, the New York Times wrote that about a quarter of each
year’s pilgrims come from within the country.

The New York Times

This year, visitors are required to follow standard coronavirus-era
procedures, like covering their faces, undergoing temperature
checks, and remaining in quarantine before undertaking the

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera reported that in addition to all of the previous steps,
they’re are also given wristbands that monitor their movements.

Al Jazeera

Pilgrims can only drink holy water from Zamzam well, a holy spot
located within the mosque in Mecca, if it comes pre-packaged in
plastic bottles.

Washington Post

They are also expected to bring their own prayer mats to limit
contact with other people.

Washington Post

Devotees are prohibited from coming in any contact at all with the
Kaaba — a sacred black cube-shaped structure located at the
center of the Masjid al-Haram. Normally, one of the steps of Hajj
involves walking about the Kaaba in a counter-clock direction, with
many touching and kissing it at some point.

Al Jazeera

Part of the pilgrimage involves visitors collecting pebbles that
they throw from a bridge to symbolically fight back against evil.
This year, the tiny rocks will come packaged and sanitized ahead of

Washington Post

Photos shared by the Saudi Ministry of Media show workers
sanitizing common spaces …

… as well as the pilgrims’ luggage.

About 2.5 million Muslims made the trip in 2019. The pilgrimage is
a significant source of income for the Saudi Arabian government.


In 2015, over 700 people died and 900 were injured in a stampede in
Mina, about two miles away from Mecca. Journalist Khaled al-Meena
told CNN that a large number of people trying to finish their
rituals in a speedy manner might have been the reason behind the


Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
Millions of people undertake the Hajj every year. These
photos show how different the yearly Muslim pilgrimage is this year
because of the pandemic.