Haj is a time when Muslims from all over the world should come together in harmony and put any temporal differences aside.
It is a glorious opportunity to remember the unity that is at the heart of Islam, which is where all Muslims should be seeking to move.
Nonetheless, there is a dangerous trend from modern-day Iran to seek to use Islam for its own political purposes and it has actively sought political destabilisation in the Arab world.
Its militias in Iraq and Syria, its backing for of Al Houthis in Yemen and its vocal support for Shiites in Bahrain are only some of the more obvious examples of Iran’s persistent and growing efforts to interfere in Arab politics.
This is why Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef Al Saud was right to make it clear that Haj must be kept clear of politics, to which the Iranians failed to agree.
This is why Prince Mohammad was then forced to make it clear that it was the Iranian leaders themselves who were responsible for keeping their own people from Haj by attempting to politicise the pilgrimage.
“The Iranian authorities are the ones who don’t want the Iranian pilgrims to come here for reasons concerning the Iranians themselves and in light of them seeking to politicise Haj and turn it into rituals against Islam’s teachings and that compromise the safety of Haj,” Prince Mohammad told Reuters.
In addition to Iran’s regional political manipulation, there is an additional delicacy because Iran lost the largest number of pilgrims in last year’s tragic stampede and crush when 769 pilgrims were killed in the highest death toll for Haj since a crush in 1990.
The Saudi authorities have consistently expressed their regret for the tragedy and emphasised that their custodianship and management of Islam’s holiest sites, including Makkah, is a vital part of their national duty to the entire community of Islam.
This is why they have been so meticulous in their preparations for this year’s Haj and have consulted so carefully with all Muslim nations on the practicalities of getting as many Muslims as possible to perform Haj.
The vast majority of the huge number of pilgrims passing through Makkah will experience the best of Haj. It is wrong that the Iranian government is seeking to pervert this feast for its own benefit.