Having been a pilgrim, I remember how intense performing the hajj can be. From the arrival of the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, to the various rituals of the hajj, to their departures home, millions of pilgrims are crammed together. They collectively glorify and sing the praises to the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad in their largest possible numbers.

Social distancing and isolation are antithetical to the very rhythm of hajj. Mandatory vaccinations, better sanitation and habitations for pilgrims have drastically curbed the spread of infectious diseases such as typhoid and cholera during the pilgrimage, but there is no remedy for the coronavirus…

Saudi Arabia needs to immediately announce the suspension of the pilgrimage because of the coronavirus pandemic. Such a declaration will emphasize the priority of safety in Islamic ethics to believers everywhere and will help in curbing religious gatherings during the pandemic.