Muslims pray around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in the Saudi city of Mecca, on April 9, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Saudi authorities have urged Muslims to limit themselves to one Umrah or lesser pilgrimage during Ramadan to ease overcrowding.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that limiting oneself to one Umrah in Ramadan, a usual peak of the ritual, curbs jostling and allows other Muslim fellows a chance to undertake their Umrah.

“Features of altruism include enhancing amicability and cooperation among people. Satisfaction with one Umrah during these blessed days is a form of this good behaviour,” the ministry tweeted.

Earlier this week, a Saudi official disclosed that nearly 2 million performed Umrah at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca since Ramadan started on April 2.

They have undertaken the rituals since the first of Ramadan until its 10th day in line with health precautions, added Osama bin Mansour, the deputy head at the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques for Congregation Management.

“The General Presidency has devoted its full capacity to serve the Umrah pilgrims during the holy month of Ramadan and fully designated the courtyard [around the holy Kabba] for them to undertake the circumambulation ritual,” he added.

Saudi authorities have recently eased measures for performing Umrah as the kingdom has largely relaxed restrictions against COVID-19.

The ministry has lifted several precautionary measures including cancellations of permits for praying at the Grand Mosque and visiting the Prophet’s Mohammed Mosque in Medina.

The ministry has also said the immunisation check to enter both holy sites has been scrapped for all worshippers.

The ministry has, moreover, cancelled the once-obligatory registration of immunisation data for overseas Muslims to get an Umrah permit.

A mandatory presentation of a negative PCR test result to get access to both sacred places has been lifted too.