Nearly 2.5m Muslims gather in Muzdalifa to prepare for final stages of Hajj
MUZDALIFA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters)/92 NEWS - Nearly 2.5 million Muslims gathered at Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat on Saturday for a vigil to atone for their sins, and then descended to Muzdalifa for the final stages of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Pilgrims clad in white robes signifying a state of purity spent the night in a sprawling encampment around the hill where Islam holds that Allah Almighty tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Ismail. It is also where Prophet Mohammad gave his last sermon.
Other worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn. Some carried food, carpets for camping and fans to keep cool as temperatures rose towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) before heavy rains and lightning erupted.
Once on the hill, pilgrims sat or lay in whatever space they could find. Many prayed and some cried.
Zaid Abdullah, a 30-year-old Yemeni who works in a supermarket in Saudi Arabia, said he was praying for his own country, where war has killed tens of thousands of people and caused the world’s worse humanitarian crisis, and for Muslims around the globe.
“We can tolerate the heat because our sins are greater than that,” he said as he approached the granite hill also known as the Mount of Mercy. “We ask Allah to alleviate the heat of the hereafter. As for the heat of this life, we can bear it.”
Hamood Ismail and his wife Raghdaa traveled from Syria, through Turkey, while taxi driver Khaled Maatouq came from Libya. They all said they were seeking an end to the suffering in their homelands which have been torn apart by conflict.
For others, the pilgrimage is a form of relief. Egyptian merchant Ramadan al-Jeedi said he was grateful to accompany his mother after his father died last year.
“It’s the greatest feeling, to feel that God the almighty chose us to be in this place,” he said.
Nadzmi Maruji Naid from the Philippines said he felt comfortable but a little nervous about making Hajj for the first time: “God willing, everyone here will be accepted by Allah.”
Some 2.49 million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
Among them are 200 survivors and relatives of victims of the attacks on two New Zealand mosques in March.
After spending the day on Mount Arafat, the pilgrims moved at sunset to the plain of Muzdalifa to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolizing the devil at Jamarat on Sunday, which marks the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.
Pakistani hajjis complain about lack of facilities
Pakistan hajjis lambasted the poor arrangements at the camps set up in Mina.
They were of the view that the government charged more for Hajj 2019 but failed to provide proper spacing and air conditioning facility in the camps.
The poor arrangements came to surface after some Hajjis made video footage viral.
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