Pilgrims Converge in Arafat Hajj Climax

MAKKAH – Seeking forgiveness from Allah, millions of Muslim pilgrims ascended Sunday, September 11, Mount `Arafat, east of the holy city of Makkah, in the climax of hajj after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina.

“People come from every country of the world, talk every language of the world, and meet here in one place, under one banner,” Ashraf Zalat, 43, from Egypt, told Agence France Presse (AFP)

“We feel safe,” added Nigerian pilgrim Hafsa Amina, 26.

Nasser Benfitah, 54, from Morocco, echoed Amina’s sentiments. “Everything is well organized,” she told AFP.

Pilgrims flocked to `Arafat, also known as “Mount of Mercy”, from early morning, after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina which marked the first leg of their five-day spiritual journey.

Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (Here I am answering Your call, O God),” the pilgrims took their way to `Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered his last sermon 14 centuries ago.

The Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who has been delivering the Hajj sermon consistently for the last 35 years since 1981 will not be doing so this year, due to health reasons.

The sermon will be delivered by Sheikh Saleh Bin Hameed Talha. Sheikh Saleh previously served as chairman of the Shoura Council and was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Council.

Following the lead of the Prophet Sunnah, the pilgrims performed noon and afternoon prayer “Dhuhr and Asr” combined and shortened at the Namera Mosque.

Pilgrims spend the day on the plains of `Arafat in the most essential pillar of hajj.

For the rest of the day, the pilgrims supplicate to God to forgive their sins and grant them mercy, and pray for fellow Muslims, and for unity and peace around the world.

Pilgrims then will descend by train back to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, where they will take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba and spend the night.

On Monday, all pilgrims head back to Mina, where they sacrifice animals to mark the beginning of the four-day `Eid Al-Adha.

Muslims who perform hajj properly return to their homes having all their sins washed away as promised by Prophet Muhammad.

Every year, Makkah sees millions of Muslims from around the world pouring to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Hajj’s ceremonies are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.