Postponing Umrah travel is a wise decision by the government from the fiqh perspective, said experts

05 Jan 2022 05:24pm
The Holy Mosque in Mecca where tens of thousands of Muslims congregate every hour to pray. (Source: Awani)
The Holy Mosque in Mecca where tens of thousands of Muslims congregate every hour to pray. (Source: Awani)

KUALA LUMPUR - The government's decision to temporary suspend travel permission for Umrah travelers starting January 8 is an appropriate decision from the fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) perspective, especially to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, according to Islamic academicians.

Speaking to Bernama, Universiti Sains Malaysia's director of the Centre of Islamic Development Management Studies (ISDEV), Prof Madya Dr Shahir Akram said, the government is allowed to make such decisions by taking into account the harm that will be faced by the pilgrims when they are performing the Umrah, as well as the risk after returning to the country although some people questioned the decision because Saudi Arabia did not adopt the same action.

“From a fiqh perspective, the government can suspend the travel permission although some people questioned if Saudi Arabia decided not to make the same decision.

“Currently, the government is taking into account (the danger that could be done) and had executed such actions,

“Other than that, in performing Umrah, the pilgrims need to rely on the concept of fate and sustenance (rezeki).

“At the same time, we can still be close to Allah SWT even if we are not in Mecca or Medina, (if God wills) we are already in the cognizant of Allah by accepting the fate and take the initiative to help the flood victims,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

Sharing the same idea, the lecturer of Syariah and Law Faculty from Islamic Science University of Malaysia (USIM), Associate Professor Dr Nik Rahim Nik Wajis support the effort by viewing it through the Syafi’i mazhab that is followed in Malaysia regarding performing Umrah.

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“It is true that Syafi’i mazhab mentioned that performing Umrah is obligatory, but it is once in a lifetime obligation. However, it can be postponed and not be done immediately. Please believe that Allah SWT knows our intentions and sincerity that we have spent so much money in paying for the flight tickets, hotels and everything else although we are not able to go there,” he said.

According to Nik Rahim, many arguments can be indicated regarding the prohibition of Allah SWT towards His servants in harming themselves, similar to the passage from the from Al-Quran verse that mentioned Allah SWT prohibits self-destruction.

Based on the Maqasid syariah (objectives of Islamic law) that obligate Muslims to preserve life, Nik Rahim said, the postponement is a wise decision because according to previous cases, there are high possibilities that pilgrims will be infected if they perform the Umrah now.

“So, if we still go there (to perform Umrah), we have breached the order from Allah SWT,” he said.

Meanwhile, public health specialist (epidemiology and biostatistics) from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Prof Madya Dr Malina Osman classified the temporary suspension of travel permission as appropriate as preventive measures against the Omicron variant needed to be done immediately.

Dr Malina said this is especially when the spread of the Omicron variant has shown a pattern of sharp increase globally and worried that the same trend will happen in Malaysia.

“Because based on experience, the spread of Omicron variant is quicker than the Delta variant, so the government decision is very much welcome,” she said.

At the same time, she reminded the public not to take the infections of the Omicron variant lightly as it can also have the same impact as the Delta variant.

“... especially those who are in the comorbidities group aged 60 years old and above as they are at risk of getting severe complications,” she said.

Dr Amalina also suggested the Umrah pilgrims or travelers need to be given the priority to get the booster shots because those who have gotten the shots have a lower risk of getting and spreading the Covid-19 virus infections of any variants compared to unvaccinated individuals. -- Bernama