Faithfuls near the Namira Mosqu in
Arafat. Over 2.5 Million Muslims converge at Aaraft to perform this
Hajis refused to let heavy rains dampen their spirits:
Millions of pilgrims spent the first day of this year’s Haj - Yaum
Al-Tarwiyah in prayers in Mina on Wednesday as rains soaked the
faithful and flooded roads snarling traffic......
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh exhorted Muslims the world
over to adhere to the true principles of Islam in his address on the
Arafat plain and warned them against becoming tools in the hands of
“The most serious problem the Muslim
community is facing lately is from deviant ideology. The deviants
have abandoned the right principles of Islam and adopted a wrong
creed. Therefore adherence to the right creed is one of the most
important duties of a Muslim,” Al-Asheikh said while addressing over
2.5 million Muslims from all across the world gathered at Arafat for
this year's Hajj.
Al-Asheikh was delivering the
customary Hajj Sermon before leading the faithfuls the noon prayer at the Namira Mosque
Since early morning pilgrims were
trying to get a place inside the packed 110,000-square meter mosque.
The standing at Arafat, which is the most essential ritual in Haj,
starts with noon prayers at the mosque.
Al-Asheikh condemned terrorism and
suicide operations in unequivocal terms. “Suicide operations have
become a curse of Muslim lands. Innocent men, women and children are
killed and their installations wrecked,” he said.
Al-Asheikh also warned Muslims not to
become tools in the hands of their enemies. “Terror is the most
dangerous challenge that the Muslims and the rest of the world are
facing. It has taken different shapes and forms. There are people
who use it to promote their interests,” he said.
“Muslims through history have been
facing challenges and conspiracies against it but Islam has come out
victorious against all challenges as it is the religion of God
established on the truth and designed to suit human nature,” Al-Asheikh
said. “The enemies of Islam in the modern times are not different
from their enemies in the past. The only difference is that they
changed their strategies to suit the changing times.”
Referring to people who attempt to
politicize the Haj, the mufti said: “Ignorant people attempt to
politicize the Haj aiming to disrupt its safety and create chaos in
the land. But Allah will not allow it to happen and the believers
will not (accept it). The country is in safe and strong hands that
will not tolerate any attempt to destroy this country and shatter
Al-Asheikh warned the faithful against
the enemies of Islam who are trying to distort the meaning of
Islamic texts. “They have been trying to distort the meaning of the
Holy Qur’an and traditions arguing that they are viewing the text
from a different angle,” the scholar said.
The world is waiting for a savior and
there is no savior but Islam, the sheikh said. He stressed the role
of the Islamic economic system in rescuing the world from the woes
of the current economic system. He urged Muslim industrialists to
create an industrial environment that provides help to the poor
Muslim communities to improve their lives.
Alsheikh called upon Muslim leaders to
implement Shariah system in their countries and guarantee stability
and security in their countries. He appealed the world leaders to
desist from arms race and instead save money to end poverty.
After spending the day at the
spiritual highpoint of meditation and prayers in Arafat, millions of
pilgrims moved after sunset to Muzdalifah to spend the night there
before they proceed at daybreak to Mina. The pilgrims prayed in
Arafat, a ritual that forms the spiritual climax of the Haj. The
“Wuquf” they performed there symbolizes man’s wait for the Day of
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King
Abdullah arrived in Mina on Thursday to see the arrangements made
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh,
in his sermon in Arafat, warned Muslims against deviant ideology.
Muslims from around the world had
converged on the plains of Arafat on Thursday hoping for a safe Haj.
They kept on reciting Qura’nic verses and prayed to Allah for mercy
and acceptance of their pilgrimage.
It is obligatory for all Muslims to
undertake the pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime, if they are
physically and financially able. The weather was pleasant and very
favorable for the daylong exercise.
The cold breeze, which was troubling
the pilgrims in Mina, particularly the old and the infirm, stopped
blowing and the sun shone above their heads, providing an umbrella
of warmth and happiness to the praying masses.
Though most of the pilgrims were
sitting in a state of meditation in their camps, some ventured out
to get a feel of the plains while thousands of others scaled Jabal
Al-Rahmah, where the Prophet (peace be upon him) had delivered his
last sermon more than 1,400 years ago. One of the major themes of
that sermon was equality between the rich and the poor.
The white seamless garb of the
pilgrims, called “ihram,” symbolizes purity and equality of mankind
and erases all signs of class and culture. “Here nobody is rich or
poor, big or small. All are equal on these plains. God will reward
them on the basis of their deeds, not social, political or economic
status,” said Rizwan Ahmad, a senior Indian journalist.
“I performed Haj today and Allah has
promised those performing Haj that all their previous sins will be
pardoned,” said Sami Al-Kotubi, an Omani national. “I vow not to
indulge in any wrongdoing in future and will lead the rest of my
life as per the Qur’an and the Sunnah.”
A Saudi pilgrim, Kamel Al-Bander from
the bordering region of Jazan said that he prayed for the welfare,
peace and tranquility of friends and relatives in Jazan. “I prayed
to the Almighty to give our security personnel courage to fight back
enemies and to defeat them in their nefarious designs,” he said. “We
will not allow sectarian tensions to destroy us.”
Pilgrims also prayed for the peace to
return in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Sudan. “Every Muslim is
duty-bound to pray for fellow Muslims. I prayed for our brethren in
Iraq, in Palestine and in Sudan. There are people dying there,” said
Ala Al-Marghoubi from Sudan.
Some were optimistic that the
condition of Muslims will improve everywhere. “I’m sure that Allah
will give us back the lost glory and prestige,” said Alauddin Khan
Sherzai, a pilgrim from Swat region of Pakistan.
“If we start concentrating on
education and development, we can catch up very soon with others. I
prayed that Allah provide us courage and means to take our community
to new heights. I also prayed for peace in our beautiful region.”
The scene at Arafat electrified Afrin Jabeen and her husband Arshad
Ahmad from Doha. “This is amazing. It is only at Arafat that one
realizes the true potential of the Ummah,” said Afrin.
“We, the followers of Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh), have nobody to fear except God. The Prophet gave us a
complete religion. We will protect it with our blood. By coming here
we want to seek God’s mercy and to let everybody know about our love
for our most dearest Prophet, peace be upon him.”
At sunset, the pilgrims began marching
toward Muzdalifah Valley, several kilometers from Arafat, to spend
the night. There they will spend the night in prayer, asking for
This morning, the faithful return to
the valley of Mina for the last part of the Haj — the ritual that
involves throwing stones at the Jamrat Al-Aqaba representing Satan.
At Mina, the pilgrims will later
sacrifice animals, shave their heads and proceed to Makkah to
circumambulate the Kaaba.
Kaaba gets new kiswa
The Kaaba was
dressed in its new kiswa (the black cloth cover) early Thursday
during a ceremony attended by officials from the Presidency of the
Two Holy Mosques Affairs, the kiswa factory and a number of Saudi
and foreign residents of the holy city.
The new cover was
pulled up about three meters above the ground so that pilgrims
cannot reach the fabric.
prepared in a special factory built in Makkah by King Abdulaziz more
than 70 years ago, is made of pure silk which is dyed black and
stitched with gold and silver threads at a cost of SR20 million ($5
The Kaaba is
dressed twice every year during the months of Shaaban (the month
before Ramadan) and Dhul Hijja, the month of pilgrimage. It is also
washed twice every year from inside by Zamzam water and perfumed
The dress is 658
square meters in size and consists of 47 pieces each 14 meters long
and 95 centimeters wide, is made with 670 kilograms of silk and 150
kg of gold and silver used to engrave Qur’anic verses on the cloth.
It also includes a
special dress for the Kaaba door known as the burqa (face cover)
that is 6.5 meters long and three meters wide with verses of Qur’an
engraved on it.
(With inputs from Arab