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Hajj 2024: Pilgrims travel to Muzdalifah after concluding prayers in Arafat

Hajj 2024: Pilgrims travel to Muzdalifah after concluding prayers in Arafat

International Desk

More than 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims from around the world are heading to Muzdalifah after gathering at Mount Arafat on Saturday, where they stood in prayer from noon until sunset on one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar.

The rocky areas of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah are a few kilometres east of Makkah, where pilgrims have been gathering to perform the sacred rite of the Hajj pilgrimage, which culminates with Sunday’s Eid Al Adha holiday.
In Muzdalifah pilgrims will gather pebbles for the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual that begins on Saturday, which is also the start of the Eid Al Adha feast of sacrifice marked by more than 1.5 billion Muslims globally.

At Arafat, pilgrims combined their noon and afternoon prayers at Masjid Nimrah. At sunset, they combined both the maghrib and night prayers before making the 13-kilometre walk to Muzdalifah.

Throughout Saturday, pilgrims stood in vigil from noon to sunset to offer supplications and seek repentance, from where it is believed Islam’s Prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon. The ritual at Arafat is the most sacred day of Hajj and is considered compulsory for a successful pilgrimage.

The Hajj, one of the world's largest annual religious gatherings, is among the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims able to do so are required to make the pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in their lifetime.The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the Hill of Mercy, is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometres south-east of Makkah.

“Despite the scorching heat, we feel very blessed to have reached this point in our life,” Khalifa Al Hammadi, a pilgrim from the UAE, told The National.

“It feels like we’ve lived all our life to reach this point and all we can do is pray for forgiveness from God Almighty.”

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started on Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city filled with air-conditioned tents.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed two million, approaching pre-pandemic levels.
As Muslims around the world mark Eid Al Adha, they do so sombrely with no prospects of a ceasefire in Gaza.

While Palestinians in the coastal enclave were not able to travel to Makkah for Hajj this year because of the closure of the Rafah crossing in May, those who evacuated before the final border closure were able to travel under Saudi Arabia's King Salman’s invitation.

“We thank the leadership and the people of Saudi Arabia for this generous initiative to alleviate our suffering by inviting us on this pilgrimage journey. Perhaps this will help us find some solace,” Abdullah Hassan, a Palestinian pilgrim, told The National.

He is one of a group of 1,000 family members of Palestinians who were killed or wounded in Gaza invited to Saudi Arabia by King Salman to perform the Hajj this year.

Under the initiative, 2,000 pilgrims received the king's invitation.

During the day in Arafat, many of the Muslims will also attend a sermon at the Namirah Mosque. The sermon will be delivered by well-known Saudi cleric Maher Al Muaiqaly, and interpreted in 50 languages.

"The number of languages for interpreting the sermon on the Day of Arafah due Saturday has increased to 50 to impart moderate Islam and promote affinity, fraternity and co-operation among humanity. The interpretations target about 1 billion people across the globe," said Sheikh Abdulrahman Al Sudais, the head of the Religious Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

After Saturday’s worship in Mount Arafat, pilgrims travel on foot and bus a few kilometres to a site known as Muzdalifah to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina. They are staying overnight in Muzdalifah in the open air until Sunday.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the Eid Al Adha holiday, when Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute meat to poorer people, if they are financially able to do so.

After visiting Mina, the pilgrims return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as the Farewell Tawaf.

On Saturday President Sheikh Mohamed inquired about the conditions and wellbeing of UAE pilgrims during their performance of the Hajj rituals in the holy sites, Wam reported.

In a telephone call, Sheikh Mohamed spoke to Dr Omar Habtoor Al Darei, Chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, and Zakat and head of the UAE Pilgrims' Affairs Office.

The UAE President praised efforts by Saudi Arabia and the facilities it provides to ensure the comfort of pilgrims, enabling them to perform their rituals with ease, peace of mind and safety, Wam reported.

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