By Waleed Hakeem
Subhanallah, news of the Haram being closed are going viral and causing panic, with people even going as far as declaring it one of the signs of the final day!
Since I am here in Makkah, let me clarify facts from fiction so we could calm down:
– The tawaf (mataf) area (only) around the Kaabah was closed before. However, people were still doing tawaf outside in the covered area.
– The rest of the Masjid was open for the 5 prayers, and people were praying outside too.
– 1 hour after Isha, the entire mosque will be closed for sanitization until 1 hour before Fajr when it will be reopened again. This is also happening in the Prophet’s ﷺ mosque in Madinah!
– Zamzam water will also be shut down and sanitized. All the tabs and the containers.
– No corona cases reported from the Haram.
– No one wearing Ihraam clothing will be allowed inside Makkah. If you come plain clothed however, you are allowed to come inside the city boundaries. You may or may not be stopped for questioning. Groups are not allowed under any circumstances.
Now, is this one of the signs of the day of judgement as some claim?
– Actually, Haram was closed over 40 times in history, due to fires, diseases, expansions, or wars, and we know them year by year, from 865 to 1987. Here are some of the most significant closures of the Haram:
865 AD: It was first closed in 251 AH. Ismail Ibn Yusuf al-Alawi carried out a massacre in Makkah killing hundreds of hujjaj.
930 AD: This was one of the most disastrous events. The Qaramita, who are an extremist sub group of the Shia attacked Makkah. They called tawaf around the Kabah as idol worship. They tried to destroy the Kabah and stole the Black Stone. Umrah was stopped in that year. They took the Black Stone with them to Qatif. They tried to invent their alternate version of Hajj instead. For 22 years it remained in their possession until it was bought back. While they were stealing it, the stone broke into 7 pieces as it is seen today.
1258 AD: The Mongolians attacked Baghdad. They massacred over 2 million people and threw 500,000 books from the House of Wisdom into the river. They also assassinated the Khalifah and his family. Out of fear for their lives and safety concerns amidst this chaos, the people didn’t come for Umrah.
1814 AD: This is the historic plague the Prophet peace be upon him spoke about. More than 8,000 people died.
1831 AD: There was an outbreak of a contagious disease (likely the cholera outbreak) from India. It claimed the lives of over 3 quarters of the Hujjaj present in Makkah at the time.
1892 AD: There was an outbreak of severe cholera. The bodies of the Hujjaj were piled up like mountains around the Haram, till they were able to be buried. What’s worse is that this happened on the Day of Arafat.
1979 AD: Juhayman Al Otaybi claimed to be Almahdi and with 500 followers, he took an armed siege of the Haram for 2 weeks until a coalition of commandos were able to defeat them and re-open the Haram.
1987 AD: Around 10,000 people around the Haram were affected by meningitis which is an inflammatory disease impacting the brain and spinal cord.
Even in Ottoman times, they had built places around the Haram for quarantine, so that people coming to Hajj would be placed and treated there in case of any issues.
The media is trying to scare us because it sells better. My intention is to counter this by calming us down seeking only the reward of Allah (calm while we take the necessary precautions).
We ask Allah to protect our health, heal us, and invite us into His home once it is safe for us to return and visit. Aameen!