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Pilgrims Converge At Arafat, Marking Pinnacle Of Hajj

Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly, imam and preacher of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, delivering the Arafat sermon at the grand Namira Mosque.

Report from Arafat, Saudi Arabia says, marking the apex of the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, more than 1.8 million pilgrims started their main ritual of standing at Arafat on Saturday afternoon after ascending the vast plains of Arafat earlier in the day.

Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (O God, here I am answering Your call)…,” the pilgrims flocked this morning to Namira Mosque in Arafat, about 20 km southeast of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the Tent City of Mina.

Male pilgrims in seamless white clothes — resembling a white sea of humanity and women in their abayas — are now spending the most crucial hours in their lifetime spiritual journey.

Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly, Imam and preacher of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, delivered the Arafat sermon at the grand Namira Mosque.

The sermon resembles the famous farewell sermon of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he performed his only Hajj.

In the sermon, Sheikh Al-Muaiqly urged all Muslims to obey what God has commanded and avoid what He prohibited in order to attain victory, salvation, and happiness in both this world and the hereafter.

“Hajj is a manifestation of showing sincerity in worshiping God and it is not a place for political slogans,” he emphasized.

Sheikh Al-Muaiqly underlined the need for holding fast to five necessities, represented by safeguarding of religion, self, mind, money, and honor, saying that this would lead to stability of life, the spread of security, the ability for people to achieve their religious and worldly interests, apart from winning the pleasure of God.

He also prayed for the Palestinians who have suffered from the harm of their enemy caused by bloodshed, unrest in the country, and prevention of access to the essentials of food, medicine, and clothing.

The Saudi Arafat sermon translation initiative is projected to reach a staggering one billion listeners worldwide, translated into 20 languages.

After the sermon, Sheikh Al-Muaiqly led the prayers. Retracting the noble tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he performed noon (Dhuhr) and evening (Asr) prayers, combined and shortened, with one adhan and two iqamas.

Pilgrims joined the prayers at and around Namira Mosque, and then started performing the Standing (wuqoof) at Arafat.

Wuqoof Arafat, one of the four pillars of Hajj, begins after noon prayers. Pilgrims would engage in prayers and supplications until after sunset. They will seek forgiveness and pleasures of Allah.

Many of the worshippers were seen holding umbrellas against the fierce sun while chanting Talbiyah and reciting verses from the Holy Qur’an after ascending on Jabal Al-Rahma (the Mount of Mercy) in Arafat.

The vast plains of Arafat spread over an area of 10.4 square km and is inhabited only during the days of Hajj.

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Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (O God, here I am answering Your call)…,” the pilgrims flocked this morning to Namira Mosque in Arafat, about 20 km southeast of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the Tent City of Mina.

On this blessed day, the pilgrims engage in the “Talbiyah” supplication, remembrance of Allah, seeking forgiveness, and praising Allah, the One. They turn humbly and devotedly to Allah, spending the day praying for themselves, their families, their children, and all their fellow Muslims.

Multitudes of pilgrims are standing shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, for the emotional day of supplication in the desert valley where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his final sermon during his Farewell Hajj, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.

Many pilgrims raised their hands in worship with tears streaming down their faces.

“For sure it is something great. It is the best day for Muslims during the year, and the best feeling that anyone can experience,” Hussein Mohammed, an Egyptian pilgrim, said as he stood on the rocky slopes at dawn.

“It is the best place for anyone hoping to be here on this day and at this moment.”

Ali Osman, a pilgrim from Spain, was overwhelmed, as he stepped down the Mount of Mercy. He said he felt that he gained spiritual and physical strength at the sacred site.

“The place, thank God, gives very good energy,” he said. “I came here, thank God. It is my first time. I hope to come again in the future.”

A total of 1,833,164 pilgrims are performing Hajj this year, according to the report published by the General Authority for Statistics on Saturday. They include 1,611,310 foreign pilgrims and 221,854 p domestic pilgrims.

Several Muslim leaders and heads of state are among the pilgrims. They include Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The pilgrims included 3322 guests of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. There are 2000 Palestinian pilgrims among them. They are from the families of the martyrs, prisoners and wounded Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and other occupied territories as well as 1,300 guests from more than 88 countries in addition to 22 pilgrims from the families of conjoined twins, who underwent successful surgical separation in the Kingdom.

Palestinian authorities said 4,200 pilgrims from the occupied West Bank arrived in Makkah for Hajj. This year’s Hajj also saw Syrian pilgrims performing Hajj for the first time after a hiatus of 12 years.

Syrian pilgrims traveled to Jeddah on the first direct flights from Damascus in more than a decade. Around 2000 media representatives from local and international media, who hail from 150 countries, are participating in the coverage of the annual pilgrimage.

Muslims in most parts of the world are observing fasting on Saturday in a sign of solidarity with the pilgrims. It is a great Sunnah for those who do not perform Hajj to observe fasting on Arafat Day.

After spending a whole day and night in Mina in prayers and meditation on the first day of Hajj (Yaum Al Tarwiyah) on Friday, the pilgrims proceeded early this morning to Arafat on board Mashair train, buses and other vehicles.

All roads to Arafat were packed with worshippers as helicopters buzzed overhead and volunteers handed out bottles of water and collected rubbish in green plastic bags.

The chanting of talbiya reverberated all around as the pilgrims headed to Mount Arafat in an air of spirituality that marked the climax of their lifetime spiritual journey.

Saudi authorities have mobilized all their resources and facilities that made the movement of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat a great success.

The routes from Mina to Arafat witnessed a smooth flow of traffic, with pilgrims moving seamlessly. The pilgrims took their places in the 110,000-square-meter Namira Mosque and 8000-square-meter courtyards well before the start of the Arafat Day sermon.

The pilgrims’ movement was under direct follow-up of the personnel of the various security sectors to organize the movement, in addition to guiding pilgrims and ensuring their safety.

Different government sectors taking part in the service of pilgrims are providing all medical, emergency and catering services in Arafat.

Under the sweltering temperatures, most of the pilgrims are carrying umbrellas.

Cooling stations on the roads leading to Arafat and in its surrounding areas sprayed pilgrims with water to help fight the heat, which had already climbed to 47 C (116.6 F) at Mount Arafat, according to the Saudi National Center for Meteorology.

This year, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance has completed a $3 million project to cool the courtyards behind Namira Mosque. The new system uses air-cooling technology with misting to bring down temperatures by more than 9 degrees Celsius, and thus improving comfort for the pilgrims in high temperatures.

The pilgrims would remain at Arafat until nightfall in deep contemplation, supplication and recitation of the Holy Qur’an. After completing the ritual of standing at Arafat by sunset, pilgrims then move to Muzdalifah in a calm and dignified manner, reciting talbiyah a great deal.

They will offer the Maghrib prayer with three raka’a and Isha prayer in two raka’a at the time of Isha after reaching Muzdalifah, and spend the night there in supplication.

The Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for all Muslims physically and financially able to make the journey, which takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet (PBUH) more than 1,400 years ago.- SG

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