A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Postpone Hajj Due to Swine Flu?

This is getting stranger and stranger. The Grand Mufti of Egypt is suggesting Muslim scholars issue a collective fatwa to postpone the hajj due to swine flu. Arabic version is here. Keep in mind — I know I keep repeating it — there have been no cases in Egypt. In fact, according to WHO's rundown as of yesterday, the only cases confirmed in the entire Middle East are in Israel (seven cases). And WHO says, "WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus." Oh, yes, and another thing: the hajj isn't until November. Am I missing something here? Has the hajj ever been postponed for health reasons, in all of Islamic history? I don't know, but I expect you'd need at least one infected person to justify it. (Not only are there no cases in the Middle East, except Israel, but none in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan — well, anywhere Muslim.)

And a group of Egyptian Sufi sheikhs have declined to go to a Sufi conference in the US because of fear of swine flu. (I don't know about other parts of the country, but if there are carts in the streets and someone shouting "Bring out your dead!" it's not around here.)

Elsewhere it's reported that 44 suspected cases in Egypt have all tested negative, while the pig kill goes on.

For a country with no cases, the level of hysteria seems high, fanned by the press and irresponsible public statements. I know I've spent a lot of time on Egypt's swine flu overreaction, but I'm mirroring the local media.


Unknown said...

I also read this news of postponing the Haj this year..I don't know why our Egyptian's scholar want to create confusion/uncertainity by releasing this statement. If he was so concerned about this, the Mufti should have held private talks with the Haj authorities and decide about postponing and now by releasing this statement the mufti is creating uncertainity. InshaAllah, I planned Haj this year and for this preparation has to start very early...asking for the leave from the job,etc., but by this I don't know what to do. The Haj authorities should clear the doubts at the earliest possbile so that uncertainity is cleared. Allah guide has to the right path. Ameen

Anonymous said...

It says in the above post that:

(Not only are there no cases in the Middle East, except Israel, but none in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan — well, anywhere Muslim.)

FYI, Muslims come for Hajj fromm ALL over the world, Muslims do not only live in Muslim countries. Thousands of Muslims go for Hajj from the US, the UK, China, Japan, and pretty much EVERYWHERE else. I go to Saudi quite often, and no matter what time of the year I go, there are thousands of people there from every corner of the earth.

It is a valid concern that the Saudi’s have. The people who come from hajj also come from every Socioeconomic level possible. From the poorest to the most uneducated, to the richest and the most educated. Hajj is not limited to a certain class of people, or “Muslim Countries”. It is for everyone that lives on this planet and is Muslim. And when Hajj season comes, you bet people from every corner show up! :)

BTW...i dont support canceling the Hajj, unless there is a greater harm than benefit in keeping it.

article on the topic: