To Safeguard Pilgrims Health and Well-Being
27 May 2021
1. In view of the on-going global COVID-19 pandemic, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has decided not to send a delegation of pilgrims for the Haj pilgrimage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) this year.
2. The COVID-19 pandemic situation around the world remains dynamic and of significant concern, with the spread of new variants of the virus in recent months. An increasing number of countries around the world are reporting new waves of infections and the coming months likely will remain challenging. While many countries have commenced vaccinating their populations, vaccination rates in many countries continue to be low at this point.
3. The evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has severely curtailed our mobility to travel, and this will remain so for some time. Many countries still have travel restrictions imposed to control the spread and impact of COVID-19. The government’s Travel Advisory to defer travel, except for certain essential and compassionate reasons remains in force.
Decision on Haj 2021/1442H
4. Given the circumstances, Muis has decided not to send a Haj delegation to the KSA this year.
5. The Fatwa Committee supports this decision, taking into consideration the pilgrims’ health and safety. The committee has issued a statement which is an extension from the 2020 fatwa, as appended in Annex A.
6. Muis will also facilitate the re-allocation of Haj places for the affected pilgrims to the following Haj year (2022). However, pilgrims’ eligibility to perform Haj 2022 will be subject to any requirements mandated by the relevant authorities in KSA as well as the prevailing COVID-10 situation around the world and in Singapore.
Considerations for Singaporean Pilgrims
7. Muis has full confidence in KSA’s management of the pandemic, and that appropriate measures will be put in place should Haj 2021 proceed. However, Singapore has its own considerations to safeguard the health and wellbeing of Singaporean pilgrims.
8. As at 25 May 2021, KSA has not announced an official decision on Haj 2021, and it remains unclear whether the Haj pilgrimage will be opened to international pilgrims, including Singaporeans. There is now only about one month before Singapore Haj flights typically start departing for the KSA.
9. Haj is a complex operation and adequate planning is needed to ensure pilgrims’ health and wellbeing, including assembling and training a medical team to provide medical support to pilgrims. Additionally, there are many unforeseen circumstances that could happen during this unprecedented period that will compromise pilgrims’ health and wellbeing.
10. Indications are that even if Haj 2021 were open to international pilgrims, pilgrims may be subjected to various restrictions and conditions including age, itinerary, vaccinations, multiple PCR tests, as well as quarantine/SHN in KSA and Singapore. These additional restrictions will require significantly much longer travel duration, and also result in significantly higher Haj package prices and affect the pilgrims’ preparations for Haj.
11. Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 virus, as well as the emergence of new, more contagious variants, there is still a risk to the health and safety of the pilgrims despite the good control measures that the KSA will put in place. Muis also notes that there would be many other factors beyond the control of KSA, despite their best efforts to ensure safety of pilgrims should the Haj proceed for international pilgrims.
Consultation with AMTAS
12. Muis has also consulted the Association of Muslim Travel Agents (AMTAS) and all Haj GSAs. AMTAS and the Haj GSAs support Muis’ decision and agree that it is important to protect the community and to minimise the potential spread of the virus.
13. AMTAS and the Haj GSAs have also unanimously agreed that the Haj deposits paid by their pilgrims in year 2020, which had been carried over to Haj 2021, should now be refunded. Muis is working with the KSA authorities to facilitate the refund of deposits paid in the KSA. Pilgrims will be contacted by their respective Haj GSAs within the fortnight with regards to their refund.
14. Should pilgrims have any queries, they can contact their respective Haj GSAs or Muis Haj Strategic Unit at 6350 5371, 6350 5372 and 6350 5373 from Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays), between 9.00a.m to 5.30p.m.
15. Muis hopes that this decision will help ease the anxieties of the affected pilgrims and families. This decision will allay Singaporean pilgrims’ concern on the uncertainty and the financial risks involved in performing this year Haj. This decision will also safeguard the health and well-being of our Singaporean pilgrims and the community at large from the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
 In 2018 and 2019, the flights to KSA for Singapore Haj pilgrims commenced on 17 Zulkaedah onwards. For year 2021,17 Zulkaedah falls on 28 June 2021.
 It has been reported that a small number of those who have completed their vaccination were still susceptible to an infection.