Hajj 2024: Over 1.5 million Muslims to pray on Mount Arafat today

At least 160,000 Pakistanis are also performing Hajj this year, joining hundreds of thousands of pilgrims

Web Desk
Muslim pilgrims pray atop Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Makkah, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on July 8, 2022. — AFP
  • At least 160,000 Pakistanis also performing Hajj this year.
  • Pilgrims come from around 180 countries across the world.
  • Grand Mosque Imam Maher Al Muaiqly to deliver Hajj sermon.

Over 1.5 million Muslims from around 180 countries on Saturday have begun praying on the mount Arafat to mark the "Day of Arafah" — considered the pinnacle of the grand holy pilgrimage — on the ninth day of Zil Hajj, a day after marking the start of Hajj 1445 from the tent city of Mina on the Day of Tarwiyah.

Worshippers from all over the world will climb the rocky, 70-metre (230-feet) hill, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Makkah, where the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) gave his last sermon, reported AFP.

At least 160,000 Pakistanis are also performing the grand pilgrimage this year, joining hundreds of thousands of international and domestic pilgrims amidst soaring temperatures.

The pilgrims have reached Jabal al-Rahmah and will hear the Hajj sermon at Masjid-e-Nimrah with translation in 50 different languages, including Urdu. They will also offer Zuhr and Asr prayer in Arafah.

The Hajj sermon will be delivered by Sheikh Maher Al Muaiqly, an imam at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The pilgrims will then spend the whole day praying in the field of Arafah and leave for Muzdalifah at sunset.

After offering the Maghrib and Isha prayer in Muzdalifah, they will perform Rami al-Jamarat by collecting pebbles to carry out the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual in Mina on Sunday (tomorrow).

The pilgrims will then return to Makkah to celebrate Eid ul Adha and perform sacrificial.

Muslim worshippers pray around the Kaaba, Islam´s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia´s holy city of Makkah on June 13, 2024. — AFP

Challenging heat

The desert summer heat is expected to hit 43°C. The Hajj, which takes at least five days to complete and is mostly outdoors, "is not easy because it is very hot", said Abraman Hawa, 26, from Ghana.

"We have sun... but it is not as hot. But I will pray to Allah at Arafat, because I need his support," she added.

Saudi authorities have urged pilgrims to drink plenty of water and protect themselves from the sun. Since men are prohibited from wearing hats, many carry umbrellas.

More than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, 10% of them heat stroke, a Saudi official told AFP this week.

The Hajj, one of the world's biggest religious gatherings, is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study that said regional temperatures were rising 0.4°C each decade.

But Mohammed Farouk, a 60-year-old Pakistani pilgrim, was not put off by the Gulf kingdom's scorching summer sun.

The Hajj is "very important for me as a Muslim", he said.

Financial windfall

The enormous crowds of worshippers spent the night in a giant tented city in Mina, a valley several kilometres outside Makkah, Islam's holiest city.

Many of them were tightly packed in the air-conditioned tents, lying close together on narrow mattresses.

They were grouped by nationality and price, depending on how much they had paid for their Hajj packages — usually several thousand dollars.

The Hajj is said to follow the path of the Prophet Mohammed's (PBUH) final pilgrimage, about 1,400 years ago.

It is an important source of legitimacy for the Al Saud dynasty, whose monarch has the title "guardian of the two holy mosques", in Makkah and Madina.

It is also a major financial windfall for the conservative country, which is trying to develop religious tourism as part of a drive to reduce its dependence on crude oil.

The kingdom received more than 1.8 million pilgrims last year for the Hajj, around 90% of whom came from abroad.

It also welcomed 13.5 million Muslims who came to perform Umrah, the small pilgrimage that can be done all year round, and aims to reach 30 million by 2030.

This year's Hajj takes place in the shadow of the Gaza war, after eight months of bloodshed that is an open wound for many in the Muslim world.

First stage of Hajj 'successfully completed'

Addressing a press conference in Makkah on the first day of Hajj at the Ministry of Information's Media Centre, the spokesperson of the Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said that the first stage of Hajj 1445 has been successfully completed.

The process of transferring the Hajj pilgrims to Mina was carried out as per the fixed schedule.

The spokesperson maintained that any attempt to disturb the peace of pilgrims and Hajj during the holy pilgrimage will not be tolerated.

"So far, 160 fake Hajj service establishments have been sealed, while 6,135 violators of Iqama rules were detained," the spokesperson added.