Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Nov. 2 / Trend , D.Azizov/
The first group of pilgrims from Uzbekistan will leave for Saudi Arabia on Nov. 10, the Uzbek Board of Muslims reported.
Over 5,000 Uzbeks will make the pilgrimage to Mecca in 2009.
This year, pilgrims can fly to Saudi Arabia from the airports in the cities of Bukhara, Urgench, Termez and Namangan. Earlier, pilgrims' flights were carried out only from Tashkent.
Due to a great number of people willing to make the pilgrimage this year, the small Hajj was divided into two phases: the spring and autumn. On March 30- May 5 in 2009, 2,300 Uzbek citizens performed Umrah (the small hajj) in Saudi Arabia.
It was planned to launch the second phase of Umrah in September, which coincided with the Eid-Fitr and Laylat-ul-Qadr holidays. The pilgrims of the autumn Umrah had to number 2,000.
On the eve of the hajj, the Uzbek Government approved measures to prevent the spread of the A/H1N1 influenza in the country during the pilgrimage (next hajj to the holy places of Islam in Saudi Arabia will be held in November 2009) and protect the health of the pilgrims and the general public.
In this regard, in September 2009, the Chairman of the Uzbek Board of Muslim, Mufti Usmonkhon Alimov due to a bad epidemiological situation in Saudi Arabia, posed by the spread of the A/H1N1 virus, issued a fatwa to temporarily suspend the small Hajj to be performed by the country's pilgrims. The fatwa particularly stressed that the pilgrims, registered to perform the autumn Umrah, will be able to visit the holy places of Saudi Arabia in the next month of Ramadan.
According to the Committee on Religious Affairs, since Uzbekistan's independence, over 60,000 Uzbek citizens have made the hajj and about the same - umrah (small hajj). At present, over 2,000 religious organization of 16 different confessions have been official registered in Uzbekistan and 92 percent of them are Muslim organizations. There are over 2,000 mosques in Uzbekistan.