Will global warming make Hajj too dangerous due to massive heat?

2019 and 2020 are high risk years as the Islamic duty of Hajj takes place during the hottest months of the year, 2047 to 2052 will be the next time this will happen.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
August 24, 2019 04:27
2 minute read.
The hajj

Muslim pilgrims take pictures for the pilgrims as they pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Islamic religious duty of the Hajj, to take up a journey to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and there to circle the sacred, black Kaaba stone at least once in one’s life, might become almost impossible in the future with rising temperatures around the planet, MIT researchers warn. 
 
The journey includes many outdoor sections such as the Tawaf - walking seven times around the Kaaba - and sa’ay, running or walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. That part is now enclosed and can be reached by tunnels which are air-conditioned. 
 
Pilgrims usually spend an afternoon out doors near Mount Arafat, and sleep under the open sky in Muzdalifah.

As our world become hotter, the Middle East is expected to become even harsher and more arid than it currently is. As the Hajj is also taken by the elderly and the sick and attracts great numbers of visitors from all over the Muslim world, the heat and humidity might lead to heat stroke and death at this Islamic holy site. 
Due to the Hajj being performed at different times based on the lunar calendar, the next years it will be held in the summer after 2019 and 2020 are from 2047 to 2052.     


In a study by MIT researcher Elfatih Eltahir and his team in the journal Geophysical Review Letters, it was suggested that pilgrims are in danger as of this year, The Daily Mail reported. 
 
Due to the great numbers of people attempting to circle the Kaaba and visit the other sites of importance, people have been known to die simply due to falling and being trampled by other people who were unable to stop walking due to the masses at their back. 
Over two thousand people died in 2015 during a stampede. 
 
On Sky News, Mariah Zafar from Islamic Relief urged British Muslims to “wake up to the reality of climate change.” 
 
“everybody can do something about the climate,” she said, such as “eating less meat or walking to work.” 


 

Eating less meat reduces the need to provide cattle with grazing pasture, which is one reason the Amazon rain forests are suffering from a series of intense fires.
 
Walking to work, and not using a private car, reduces air pollution. 

Some scholars believe that the Kaaba is a meteor that fell to Earth in ancient times, but since the Saudi authorities prevent researchers from taking samples from it, the exact nature of the material it is made of will remain unclear, according to Maria Golia writing in Meteorite: Nature and Culture.     



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