Pilgrims converge at Arafat, marking pinnacle of Hajj

Saudi Imam Sheikh Al-Muaiqly delivers sermon, prays for Palestinians n Calls for sincerity in worship n Says Hajj is not for political slogans

ARAFAT   -   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 the day.

Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (O God, here I am answering Your call)...,” the pilgrims flocked Saturday 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.

sembles 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 emphasised.

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 was 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.

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.

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