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Pilgrims Throng the Plain of Arafat on Wednesday

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, September 24, 2015

Pilgrims gather in Arafat at Haj climax
(AN photo by Salman Marzouki)

Pilgrims throng the plain of Arafat on Wednesday

Arab News, Thursday 24 September 2015

ARAFAT: Nearly two millions pilgrims from 164 nations gathered on Wednesday on the plains of Arafat, about 20 km from Makkah, for what is described as the most important and central element of the five-day annual Haj pilgrimage.

The pilgrims began moving into Arafat from Mina on Tuesday night. They took trains and buses to make the 14-km journey from Mina to Arafat. The weather was very harsh and instead of the sea of white that is the usual image during Haj, the multicolored umbrellas provided a different appearance to the landscape.
Helicopters hovered overhead and it was only when one got close to the Al-Namira Mosque that one had a clear sense of the millions that are here for Haj. The pilgrims, especially men, packed the massive mosque to listen to the Haj sermon delivered by Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh.

In the front row in the mosque was Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, wearing the two-piece mandated seamless white cloth. Outside the mosque, hundreds of thousands had lined up row after row in order to pray the combined Dhuhr and Asr prayers. It was a very dense crowd with every pilgrim lost in contemplation and reflection. They were beseeching Allah to forgive their sins of omission and of commission.

Most of the pilgrims, with their voices quivering, eyes moist and foreheads beady with perspiration, were praying for an easy life in the hereafter. Many women pilgrims also prayed for their children and grandchildren.

The pilgrims were thanking Allah for having provided them the means and the physical strength to undertake the journey of a lifetime.
Rafe Nayeemul Hassan from Bangladesh was happy beyond words. “Allah has been very kind to me,” he said. “Only the lucky ones get to come here to this blessed land.”

Hassan’s wife, Maimoona, was also ecstatically happy. “I feel as if a big load has been lifted from my back,” she said. “I feel light and exactly like a newborn. I have cleaned the slate of my past life and all that I do henceforth will be a new life. I will spend my life in the service of Allah who blessed us with seven children, all of whom are happily married and settled.”

Akram Ghannam, 45, from war-torn Syria, told AFP that being in Arafat is a feeling that cannot be described. “I pray to Allah to ease the pains of all those who are oppressed,” he said.

Naimatullah Jagirdar, from India, came to perform Haj for his late father. “He wanted to come for Haj three years ago. He applied but his name was not among those drawn in the lottery which selects the limited number of Indians who come. That very year, he died and while he was on his deathbed, I promised him that I would perform Haj on his behalf. And today I did.”

As he said those last words, he cried inconsolably. “This is the least I could do for my late father,” he said, burying his face in his hands to hide his tears.
Yawar Ali Qureshi, from Pakistan, was busy praying and meditating on Jabal Al-Rahma, the Mount of Mercy. He recited verses from the Holy Qur’an. “There are so many people here. Millions. But everyone is lost in himself or herself. This is what it will be like on the Day of Judgment,” he said. “Everyone will be worried because he/she will be accountable for what they did in this world. Being here on this day is a blessing from Allah. Now we get a chance to repent and to start a new life of piety and good deeds,” said Qureshi.

“I got goosebumps, a feeling that cannot be explained, when I got to the top of Jabal Al-Rahma,” Ruhaima Emma, a 26-year-old Filipino pilgrim, told AFP. “I pray for a good life for everyone,” she said.

As the pilgrims stood in prayer at Arafat, millions of Muslims around the world prayed for their safety and well-being. Photos of pilgrims from Arafat and the live feeds on television channels moved the entire Ummah and they turned to social media to congratulate the pilgrims on having made it to Arafat. “O, Allah accept the prayers of the pilgrims,” wrote Ziyad Muammar, a Twitter user from Egypt. “Just as the Muslims are united on the plains of Arafat, may they be united everywhere on this planet.”
As the sun went down, the pilgrims began the journey to Muzdalifa which is about 9 km from Arafat. They will spend the night under the open skies, collect nearly 50 pea-sized pebbles and return to Mina on Thursday morning to perform the other rituals, including the stoning of the devil.


Pilgrims throng Arafat for peak of Haj


  • file-23-arafat.jpg

    Pilgrims climb Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat in Makkah during the annual Haj pilgrimage on Wednesday. (REUTERS)

Lynne Al-Nahhas | AFP

Arab News — Wednesday 23 September 2015


Around two million white-clad Muslims on Wednesday poured into the vast Saudi plain where Prophet Muhammad had given his final sermon, for the peak of the Haj pilgrimage.
Many of the faithful from around the globe camped at the foot of Mount Arafat where they slept, exhausted from their journey, and prayed despite the scorching sun.
Carrying colorful umbrellas, they walked from dawn in massive crowds toward the slippery, rocky hill which is also known as Mount Mercy.
It was here that the Prophet gave his final sermon 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on Haj.
To organize the flow of pilgrims, security forces formed human chains along the roads of the vast Arafat plain.
Along the way, volunteers handed out boxes of food and cold water bottles.
For many pilgrims, Haj is the spiritual highlight of their lives.
“We feel blessed. I got goosebumps, a feeling that cannot be explained, when reaching the top of the mountain,” said Ruhaima Emma, a 26-year-old Filipino pilgrim, who said she has been “praying for a good life for everyone.”
For Akram Ghannam, 45, from war-torn Syria, being in Arafat is a “feeling that cannot be described. I pray to God for the victory of all those who are oppressed.”
Many reached Arafat by bus while some walked from the holy city of Makkah about 15 kilometers (nine miles) away.
Other pilgrims arrived from nearby Mina using the elevated Mashair Railway linking the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, a tent city where many pilgrims spent Tuesday night.
After sunset on Wednesday they will move to Muzdalifah. There they will gather pebbles for a symbolic stoning of the devil ritual on Thursday, which is also the Eid Al-Adha feast of sacrifice marked by the world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims.

Undeterred by crane accident
This year’s gathering is about the same size as last year’s, with 1.4 million foreign pilgrims joining hundreds of thousands of Saudis and residents of the kingdom.
They are undeterred by a construction crane collapse at the Grand Mosque earlier this month that killed 111 people, including foreign pilgrims.
About 400 people were injured by the crane which was working on an expansion of Islam’s holiest

Previously marred by stampedes and fires that killed hundreds, the pilgrimage had been largely incident-free for the past nine years after safety improvements.
The Haj is among the five pillars of Islam and every capable Muslim must perform it at least once in a lifetime.
This year’s gathering takes place against a backdrop of increased extremist violence in some Muslim countries, a surge of the potentially deadly MERS virus and the war in Yemen.

About 100,000 police have been deployed to secure pilgrimage sites and manage the crowds.
Authorities say they are on alert for possible attacks by extremists, after Daesh terrorists bombed security forces and Shiite mosques in the kingdom in recent months.
Among other challenges facing Saudi authorities is potential transmission of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Riyadh saw a jump in infections last month, but health officials say there has never been a case of MERS infection among pilgrims.
The health ministry has mobilized thousands of medical workers to help ensure a virus-free pilgrimage and to care for routine ailments.

Pilgrims began the Haj on Tuesday by entering ihram, a state of purity in which they must not quarrel, wear perfume, or cut their nails or hair.
During ihram, men wear a seamless two-piece shroud-like white garment, while women must wear loose dresses, generally also white, exposing only their faces and hands.
The clothing emphasizes their unity, regardless of whether they spend the Haj in Makkah’s five-star hotels or in shabby highrise hostels.
“I’m hoping for mercy and that Allah accepts our prayers,” said Pakistani pilgrim Abdeghafour Abu Bakr, 38, who came with friends.


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