The Saudi government should announce its policy soon for the sake of clarity. Instead of allowing large numbers of people from across the world, perhaps a solution can be found by only allowing a small, symbolic number of locals to perform the key rituals in Makkah, Arafat, Mina, etc so that the religious obligation is fulfilled.

Allowing a large number of believers to congregate may complicate the situation further. And even if Saudi Arabia decides to proceed as usual, each Muslim country, including Pakistan, must assess the risks to its own citizens before allowing them to undertake the pilgrimage this year. Perhaps if ulema from different countries and schools of thought are consulted, and the advice of health professionals is kept in view, a solution can be found for the pilgrimage to symbolically go ahead, and ensure that Muslims’ lives are not threatened by Covid-19.