world
Friday Jul 08 2022
By
AFP
|
Web Desk

In pictures: Pilgrims scale Mount Arafat to perform pinnacle of Hajj pilgrimage

By
AFP
|
Web Desk
A man cries while praying atop Mount Arafat in Mecca. — AFP
A man cries while praying atop Mount Arafat in Mecca. — AFP

  • Pilgrims scale Mount Arafat to observe key rite of pilgrimage.
  • To listen to Hajj sermon that replicates last sermon by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
  • PM Shehbaz Sharif congratulates Muslims on performing Hajj.


Huge crowds of Muslim pilgrims scaled the Mount Arafat in Mecca early this morning (Friday), the high point of the biggest hajj pilgrimage since the pandemic forced drastic cuts in numbers for two years in a row.

The Muslims gathered in Mecca to offer one of the key obligations of Islam, will be performing Hajj-e-Akbar today as the day of pilgrimage falls on Friday. The Hajj performed on Fridays is considered to have a greater significance.

As many as 1 million pilgrims are performing Hajj this year. Of these 1 million Muslims, 83,433 pilgrims are from Pakistan.

Pilgrims walk to Mount Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
Pilgrims walk to Mount Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

The worshippers, capped at one million including 850,000 from abroad chosen by lottery, spent the night at camps in the valley of Mina, seven kilometres (four miles) from Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site.

In the early hours of Friday, they converged on Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) delivered his final sermon, for the most important rite of Hajj, Day of Arafat.

Muslim pilgrims walk toward Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
Muslim pilgrims walk toward Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

After this, the hajis will also listen to the Hajj sermon, to replicate the last sermon of Holy Prophet Muhmmad (PBUH) that he gave on Hajjatul Wida [the last Hajj of the prophet's life].

The sermon will be delivered at 1:40pm according to Pakistan time. The pilgrims will stay all day at the site, praying and reciting the Quran.

Man recites Quran whil sitting atop of Mount Arafat. — Reuters
Man recites Quran whil sitting atop of Mount Arafat. — Reuters

After sunset they will head to Muzdalifah, half-way between Arafat and Mina, where they will sleep under the stars before performing the symbolic "stoning of the devil" ceremony on Saturday.

The hajj, usually one of the world's largest annual religious gatherings, is among the five pillars of Islam and must be undertaken by all Muslims with the means at least once in their lives.

In 2019, some 2.5 million Muslims from around the world took part, as in previous years.

A man prays atop Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of Mecca. — AFP
A man prays atop Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of Mecca. — AFP

But the coronavirus outbreak has since forced Saudi authorities to dramatically downsize the hajj. Just 60,000 fully vaccinated citizens and residents of the kingdom participated in 2021, up from a few thousand in 2020.

Sun and tears

The pilgrimage can be physically draining even in ideal conditions, but worshippers this year have faced an added challenge: scorching sun and temperatures rising to 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit).

A woman prays atop Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of Mecca. — AFP
A woman prays atop Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of Mecca. — AFP

Islam forbids men from wearing hats once the rites start, and many have been seen shielding themselves with umbrellas, prayer mats and even, in one case, a small bucket filled with water.

Women, meanwhile, are obliged to cover their heads with scarves.

On the mountain Friday morning, many of the worshippers wept as they prayed, and carried umbrellas in preparation for the high temperatures later in the day.

Extreme conditions

"We can tolerate (the heat). We are here for the hajj. The more we tolerate, the more our pilgrimage is accepted," Laila, a 64-year-old Iraqi pilgrim who gave only her first name, told AFP in Mecca before reaching the mount.

Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

Saudi officials have touted their preparations for the extreme conditions, highlighting the hundreds of hospital beds allocated for heat stroke patients and the "large number of misting fans" they have provided.

A truck has also been allocated to distribute umbrellas, water bottles and small fans.

Nevertheless, the National Centre for Meteorology, which has set up an office in Mina, is sending warnings to pilgrims on their mobile phones, urging them to avoid outdoor rituals at certain times of the day, especially at noon.

Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

On Saturday, Muslim pilgrims will take part in the "stoning", the last major ritual of this year´s hajj.

This ritual has in past years led to deadly stampedes, as hundreds of thousands of participants converge on a small space.

After the stoning ritual, pilgrims return to the Grand Mosque in Mecca to perform a final "tawaf" or circling of the Kaaba, the cubic structure draped in a gold-embroidered black cloth that is the focal point of Islam.

Pilgrims pray on Mount of Mercy at the plain of Arafat during the annual Haj. — Reuters
Pilgrims pray on Mount of Mercy at the plain of Arafat during the annual Haj. — Reuters

Eid ul Adha, feast of the sacrifice, marks the end of Hajj.

PM Shehbaz Sharif congratulates pilgrims

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated all the Muslims who had the blessing of performing Hajj this year.

He urged the Muslims across the world to seek mercy and forgiveness from Allah today (Friday) as "it is the special day when Allah's blessings decend upon Muslims."

He prayed that may the Almighty Allah take the country out of the quagmire of debt and lead it to the way to financial autonomy and self-reliance. He also prayed that may Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine get liberated and get rid of difficulties.

Moreover, he prayed for the increase in the ranks of martyrs and patience for their families.