(Saudi Arabia): Millions of Muslims from more than 180
countries, all dressed in white with talbiya on their lips,
flocked from Mina valley early Thursday to Mount Arafat in Saudi
Arabia’s west to take part in the main rituals of the annual hajj.
Chanting talbiyah -
“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (“Here I am, O Allah, here I am”),
about 4mn pilgrims from 189 countries are seeking clemency and
forgiveness from the Almighty Allah simultaneously praying for
peace across the world.
Many pilgrims had camped overnight in the sprawling plain
surrounding Mount Arafat but the majority began arriving at dawn.
Men, women, and children from 189 countries streamed to the site,
some setting up small colorful tents in which they slept and
“We came from Makkah. We walked from
the Grand Mosque to Mina and then we took the buses to Arafat. All
for the love of the prophet,” news agency quoted AFP one Egyptian man
“The more tired we get, the more God will reward us,” he said.
After dawn prayers, pilgrims headed to the small hill in Arafat
plain named the “Mount of Mercy” as others made themselves
comfortable between its huge rocks. Many prayed, tears streaming
down their faces.
It is at the foot of this hill where Prophet Mohammed is
believed to have delivered his final hajj sermon before his death.
Till sunset, the pilgrims will
remain here at Arafat. They will offer Zohar and Asr prayers here
and pray till sunset. After sunset, they head to Muzdalifah, between Mina and
Arafat, where they collect stones to throw at the devil, one of
the last rituals which takes place Friday and marks the first day
of Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
The symbolic “stoning of the devil” is followed by the ritual
sacrifice of an animal, usually a lamb.
During the remaining three days of the hajj, the pilgrims continue
the stoning ritual before performing the circumambulation of the
Kaaba shrine in Makkah and heading home.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that every capable
Muslim must perform at least once.
A preacher urged pilgrims not to climb the slippery stone
staircase leading up the hill, bellowing over loudspeakers:
“Neither the prophet, nor his followers have ever climbed the
hill. Please do not climb it.”
Pilgrims have in previous years slipped and fallen while
attempting the ascent, and others have been killed in stampedes.
On Thursday, some worshippers ignored the warning and did attempt
the climb, although no incidents were reported.
Amid the crowds, Syrian worshippers were seen carrying a large
rebel flag, a symbol of the 19-months-long deadly uprising against
President Bashar al-Assad's regime.