Iran very likely to resume Umrah Hajj: Lawmaker

Tasnim – The chairman of the Iranian parliament’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Faction said it is very likely that the country will resume dispatching nationals to Saudi Arabia’s holy cities for performing the Umrah (minor) Hajj pilgrimage.

Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency, Hojatoleslam Ahad Azadikhah underlined that sending Iranians to Saudi Arabia for performing the Umrah hinges on the proper holding of this year’s major Hajj.

He also emphasized that according to the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, the process of holding this year’s Hajj is proceeding well.

Given the assessment of Saudi Arabia’s performance in major Hajj, it is most likely that Umrah will be resumed, he noted.

The Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims. Unlike the Hajj, which is also known as the “major Hajj pilgrimage”, it can be undertaken at any time of the year.

Hajj is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and the largest gathering of Muslim people in the world every year. The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.

In 2016, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.

On September 24, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the deadly crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.

The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.

Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.