Saudi Arabia: Pilgrims in the Great Mosque of Mecca are now permitted to touch and kiss one of the most revered relics of Islam, Hajar al Aswad – the Black Stone placed in the holy Kabba building.
Worshippers were asked not to touch it during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the measure has now finally been removed.
Several photos are being circulated on social media showing worshippers excited and crying to get near the Black Stone.
The barrier was set up for people to maintain social distancing, which was removed just before the time of the Umrah pilgrimage season.
The Hajj is considered as a pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims who can, must perform at least once in their life. It was held at a particular time of year, and this year it ran from 7 to 12 July.
Meanwhile, the Umrah pilgrimage can be held at any time of the year and lures millions of Muslims worldwide. Pilgrims may also visit the sacred city of Medina.
Saudi Arabia dropped almost all of its strict restrictions related to coronavirus earlier this year, which means that the last month’s Hajj pilgrimage was nearly back to normal for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
In 2020, only 1000 individuals were permitted to attend Hajj, the holiest pilgrimages for Muslims. Only Saudi Arabian pilgrims were allowed to participate, and international pilgrims were banned.
The number of worshippers increased to 60,000 in 2021 and in July this year, and there were over a million pilgrims praying in Mecca.
However, that is still less as compared to the time before covid. In 2019, more than 2.5 million people travelled to Mecca for Hajj, as per the Statistica, making it the largest human gathering in the world.
In the Islamic religion, the Black Stone, which is placed in the eastern corner of the iconic square Kaaba, dates back to Adam and Eve’s time.
It was already held as holy before the discovery of Islam and is said to have initially been white but turned black through receiving the sins of those who touched it.