Hajj starts in Mecca, but without Gazans

Hajj starts

This article was last updated on June 14, 2024

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Hajj starts in Mecca, but without Gazans

More than 1.5 million pilgrims from all over the world will start the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage, in Mecca today. A total of 2 million Muslims are expected for the ritual, which lasts a total of five days. According to Islam, all Muslims who are in good health and can afford it must perform the hajj once in their lives.

It is impossible for the 2,500 Palestinians from Gaza who were selected for the trip to perform the Hajj. Israel has seized the Rafah border crossing, preventing them from going to Mecca. The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs therefore admits 2,000 Palestinian families from another area, the West Bank, at the king’s request. The ministry takes care of their travel and accommodation.

Mecca inaccessible to Palestinians in Gaza

The Hajj lasts five days and is intended for reflection and penance for all sins one has committed. Most pilgrims wear a white robe, which symbolizes equality.

The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The costs for a hajj trip vary from 7000 to 9000 euros. The Hajj always takes place at the beginning of the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. The last part of the Hajj always coincides with Eid-al-Adha, the most important Islamic holiday of the year. Eid-al-Adha, also called the Festival of Sacrifice, is a major festival celebrated for three days in memory of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).

Since 2022, Dutch Muslims who want to perform the Hajj can no longer do so through Dutch travel agencies. Pilgrims register in advance at a Saudi platform, Nusuk. There are a limited number of places available. Especially because of the corona years, when only a few thousand Saudi Muslims were allowed to participate, the places are in demand this year.


Traditionally, the Hajj is a journey that most Muslims have to save for years and wait for a place. A large proportion of Muslims make the journey after the age of fifty. In recent years, more and more young people have been coming to perform the hajj, but at the same time umrah is also gaining popularity.

Umrah is the smaller, voluntary pilgrimage, also to Mecca, that can be made all year round. The Saudi government has spent billions in recent years on additional security and increasing capacity for both trips. Umrah usually costs between 1800 and 2200 per person through travel agencies. Many Muslims in the Netherlands therefore choose to first perform Umrah before doing the Hajj.

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