With authorities in Saudi Arabia asking Muslims to postpone their Haj (annual pilgrimage) plans till the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control, there is a chance that the pilgrimage may be cancelled this year.
The annual pilgrimage, which is to take place at the end of July this year, sees millions of Muslims flock to Makkah to perform a series of rituals, including circumambulating the holiest structure in Islam – the Kaabah.
Although the possibility of Haj being cancelled is an unimaginable prospect for Muslims, historians say it has been called off at least 40 times in the past.
Reasons included attacks, political clashes, plague and cholera outbreaks, floods, high costs and freezing weather.When Haj was suspended for 10 yearsYears: 930-940AD/316-326H (Hijri year).
A sect called Qarmatians considered Haj to be a pagan ritual.They led an attack and slaughtered up to 30,000 helpless pilgrims.They filled the holy Zamzam well with the corpses.
They also damaged the Kaaba and looted the sacred black stone – believed to be a stone from paradise – from the structure.-No pilgrimage for 5 ys due to political disputes (Years: 1256-1260AD/654-658H).
Only those in Hijaz, Saudi Arabia, managed to perform Haj during these years.Plague killed thousands(Year: 967AD/357H).
Haj was suspended because of a plague that killed thousands of people and animals.- Agency archivesRising costs(Year: 1,000AD/390H).
Pilgrims in Egypt could not perform Haj because of the high costs associated with travel.It happened again in 1028AD/419H.-KT filePolitical disputes(Years: 885AD and 1001AD/272H and 392H).
Haj was suspended in Iraq and the Levant, respectively, due to political disputes and internal warsUnsafe roadsYear: 1001AD/403H.
Haj was suspended for pilgrims in Iraq and Khurasan because of unsafe roads and political clashes.Freezing weather(Year: 1026 AD/417H).
Haj was suspended for pilgrims in Iraq because of the freezing weather and floods.Attack on Kiswahdrag_indicator(Year: 1925AD/1344H).
No pilgrim from Egypt managed to perform Haj because of an attack on a caravan that was transporting Kiswah (cover of the Kaabah) from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.