Symposium in Turkey debates changing aspects of hajj for Muslims

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The International Hajj Symposium, a three-day event organized by the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) kicked off on Thursday in the capital Ankara. Turkish and foreign scholars will discuss how the sacred pilgrimage held every year in Saudi Arabia has changed amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as other topics relating to the holy voyage, including women's health and the economy.

Entitled “Hajj In the Context of Changing and Developing Conditions,” the event comes at a time when the hajj will be held in a limited capacity.

In an opening speech, Diyanet head Ali Erbaş underlined that they want to bring a "new perspective" to the hajj and its organization in light of the new age we are in. “The symposium will discuss every aspect of hajj, from fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) dimension to its sociological impact, cultural reflections to health and education. It will shed light on development of hajj organizations since the early days of Islam. It will seek answers to contemporary challenges to organizing hajj. I hope it will also offer a comprehensive response to assess the pilgrimage at the time of pandemic,” he said. Erbaş noted that it has been one year since the pandemic began and few were able to perform the pilgrimage last year, adding that since February 2020, people from a handful of countries were allowed to perform umrah, a lesser pilgrimage. “We pray to Allah that this pandemic will be over. Hajj is symbol of unity for the faithful. There is no other form of prayer that brings together such multitude of people from different races, languages, countries. The pandemic deprived us of this,” he expressed.

Scholars from Sudan to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Germany, Malaysia, Canada and Pakistan are attending the symposium. Among the topics discussed at the event are the children’s pilgrimage, the time of stoning the devil (a ritual which is part of pilgrimage), women’s hajj and umrah in the context of privacy, objectives of religious laws on hajj canceled during the epidemic, hajj organization in free market conditions and the history of hajj practices.