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A Saudi family distributes free tea to pilgrims during Hajj last year. Pilgrims participating in the upcoming Hajj are being warned against engaging in unauthorised fundraising activities. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Saudi Public Prosecution has warned pilgrims participating in the upcoming Hajj season against engaging in unauthorised fundraising activities.

Violators will face severe penalties, including a sentence of up to 7 years in prison, a fine of up to SR 5 million, or possibly both.

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On its official X account, the Public Prosecution outlined that collecting donations in kind or cash without a permit from the competent authority is strictly forbidden and constitutes a major crime.

It stressed that stringent measures will be taken against any attempts to deceive or mislead for financial gains, referencing the Anti-Financial Fraud and Breach of Trust Law.

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This law specifically targets any fraudulent activities, including deception, lying, or creating false impressions, aimed at unlawfully acquiring funds.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a religious duty that must be carried out by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey at least once in their lifetime.

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to the 12th (or in some cases the 13th) of Dhu Al Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Hajj involves several days of rituals including Tawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba), Sa’i (walking between the hills of Safa and Marwah), standing on the Plains of Arafat, and the symbolic stoning of evil (Rami Al Jamarat) in Mina.

The culmination of Hajj coincides with the Eid Al Adha, a major Islamic festival celebrated by Muslims around the world.

The dates for Hajj change every year because the Islamic calendar is lunar, and each lunar year is about 10 to 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.

For 2024, the dates of Hajj are expected to fall in late June or early July. However, the exact dates will depend on the sighting of the moon, which determines the start of Dhu Al Hijjah.