Saudi Arabia warns Hajj pilgrims against political activities

Saudi Arabian authorities have set six rules for Hajj pilgrims to abide by this year, including not bringing with them printouts bearing political ideas.

The Egyptian Solidarity and Social Justice Ministry, meanwhile, stressed that Egyptian pilgrims should travel to Saudi Arabia strictly to perform the Hajj, not practice politics.

On top of these six warnings, Saudi authorities said, is the need for pilgrims respect all the laws and Islamic traditions of Saudi Arabia, including not bringing in alcohol, narcotic drugs, pornographic material or printouts that include religious beliefs inconsistent with the Islamic teachings of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi statement on the rules stressed that Egyptian pilgrims should sign a pledge to obey the Saudi rules before heading to the kingdom and if the rules are violated, they will be punished.

The restrictions will be written out on each pilgrim's entry visa, the statement mentioned.

The statement also stressed that pilgrims should leave Saudi Arabia and any other country member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at the end of the pilgrimage season.

The statement provided specific details on the pilgrimage process. Pilgrims must make sure when applying for a visa that the information they provide is entirely true and correct. If the data provided on the pilgrim's visa proves fake upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, Saudi authorities maintain their right to prevent the pilgrim from entering the country. The pilgrim will then have to fly home at his or her own expense without any Saudi compensation.

Egyptian pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, not exercise politics, said Mohamed Tawfiq, director of the national institute to facilitate the Hajj and Umra at the Solidarity and Social Justice Ministry.

Tawfiq told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the Solidarity and Social Justice and Religious Endowments ministries have both agreed to send preachers with pilgrimage missions to help pilgrims follow the rules during their trips.

Similarly, founder and president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS) Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi said it is forbidden to use political slogans, stage demonstrations or carry out any actions that might threaten the security of pilgrims during the Hajj. 

"God made this country where Hajj rituals are held peaceful and secure, so that Muslims can perform their rituals with spirituality and great comfort, and without any trouble," Qaradawi said in an interview with the Saudi Okaz newspaper.

Disputes insult the Hajj, which is a great religious duty and the fifth pillar of Islam, he said.

Using the Hajj to achieve political objectives and goals unrelated to the Hajj invalidates the pilgrimage and does not follow the decorum specified for the Hajj in Sharia law, he continued.

Staging demonstrations or using political slogans during the pilgrimage season in Mecca is unacceptable because such acts would incite strife between pilgrims at a holy place, Qaradawi stressed.

Qaradawi offered his advice for Hajj pilgrims: "This great rite melts all differences between Muslims who belong to different nations, races, languages, regions and classes so that they all feel as one nation, just as God wants them to be, not various nations as their enemies want them to be. A [unified Muslim] nation that has the unity of beliefs, rites, legislation, morality, manners and concepts.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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