Last week’s Hajj became a death march in the heat

By June 28, 2024

Saudi Arabia (MNN) — The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, became a death march last week. In Saudi Arabia, over 1,300 pilgrims died in a heatwave. Scorching temperatures soared to over 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a requirement for every Muslim.

Bruce Allen with FMI says, “Saudi authorities try to control the flow of pilgrims through quotas, allowing each country one pilgrim for every 1,000 Muslim citizens. People are just hoping that this year, I will be one of the ones who is allowed to go in — whether they’re going from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Netherlands, or wherever they may live.

“But there are unofficial pilgrims who also come because they’re told to. Their religion says you must perform this act.”

Roughly one-quarter the size of the US in terms of land mass, Saudi Arabia is mostly desert and is one of the few countries in the world with no rivers; instead, there are some wadis – valleys with river beds – which may occasionally collect water. The average annual rainfall in most areas of the country is below 6″. Less than 2% of the land is arable. (Photo, caption courtesy of FMI)

Unofficial pilgrims on the Hajj didn’t have the same access to shaded pavilions and water as registered pilgrims. The Saudi Health Minister reported 83% of those fatalities were unauthorized pilgrims.

Pilgrims on the Hajj desire to be closer to their god. Please pray for Muslims around the world to know the truth in Jesus Christ.

Allen says, “I keep going back to Jesus’s words: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’ And I pray, Lord, let me be an agent of your filling to those people to give them the spiritual nourishment that they really need, rather than all the polluted cisterns…where people go to get water when Jesus offers living water.”

“As much as there’s this obligation on Muslims to perform the Hajj, for Christ’s followers, there’s an obligation on us to let those living waters flow from us and quench the spiritual thirst of people literally dying in the desert.”

FMI is expanding its ministry to new fields, including Saudi Arabia, to support believers representing Christ under difficult circumstances. Pray for FMI as they connect with Christians in Saudi Arabia and discern ways to unify and expand the Church.

Support FMI’s expansion to new fields here!




Header photo courtesy of FMI.

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