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Tuesday, July 23, 2024  
17 Muharram 1446  

Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Arafat in hajj climax

Worshippers from all over the world will climb hills from Makkah
Muslims arrive at the Mina tent camp during the annual Hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2024. AFP
Muslims arrive at the Mina tent camp during the annual Hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2024. AFP

More than 1.5 million Muslims will pray on Mount Arafat in soaring temperatures on Saturday, the high-point and most grueling day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

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 is believed to have given his last sermon.

The desert summer heat is expected to hit 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit), creating challenges especially among the elderly during a day of prayer and reciting the Koran.

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 percent 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 0.4C 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.

After Arafat they will head to Muzdalifah, where they will collect pebbles to carry out the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina on Sunday.

The hajj is said to follow the path of the Prophet Mohammed’s 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.

Hajj sermon

Web desk adds: Masjid al-Haram Imam Maher Al-Mu’aiqly delivered the Hajj sermon to the gathered faithful.

In his sermon, the Imam emphasized that Allah is the One and Absolute, and His mercy encompasses all things. He stated that it is the right of Allah that people fear Him and abstain from sins.

The Imam warned that the life of this world is deceptive, and people must be careful not to be misled by the allure of this temporary world.

He said that a person can only be attained by worshiping Allah alone and following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Stressing the importance of upholding the rights of Allah and His creation, the Imam urged the pilgrims to adopt good character and morals as commanded by their religion.

He emphasized that those who fear Allah and avoid corruption and injustice will be the ones to prosper.

The Imam of the Kaaba said that the punishment for oppression is inevitable. Mutual respect is essential. No one should ridicule or call others offensive names. Respect, dignity, and goodness constitute humanity. All disputed matters should be referred back to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Salvation can only be attained through complete trust in Allah.

After spending the previous night in Mina, the Hajj pilgrims have arrived at the plain of Arafat in convoy form today. Their arrival has continued throughout the day. The Hajj sermon was delivered at the Masjid al-Noor in the Arafat area.

The Hajj [began][1] on Friday, with the solemn ritual of wearing the Ihram upon crossing the outer boundaries of Makkah known as the Miqat. The Mina Valley is bracing for an influx of 2.5 million devout pilgrims from around the world, including 160,000 Pakistanis, who have converged to embark on this profound spiritual journey.

More than 1.5 million Muslims prayed on Mount Arafat in soaring temperatures on Saturday, the high point and most grueling day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Worshippers from all over the world climbed the rocky, 70-metre (230-feet) hill, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Makkah, where the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have given his last sermon.

The summer heat expected to hit 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit), creating challenges especially among the elderly during a day of prayer and reciting the Koran.

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 percent of whom came from abroad.

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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.

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