MECCA: More than 2 million Muslims from around the world packed Mount Arafat near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, marking the climax of the annual Haj pilgrimage. This year’s Haj ends on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabian authorities have deployed thousands of security personnel along the routes to Mount Arafat, which is located around 20 km east of the holy city of Mecca, to tightly control the crowd at Islam’s largest gathering.
The male pilgrims were clad in seamless pieces of white cloth, while women wore loose garments without make-up or jewellery. Their attire symbolises abandoning worldly wealth and acknowledging equality.
Arafat is the place where the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is believed to have delivered his last sermon around 14 centuries ago. The pilgrims spend the day in worship, and ritually chant there for God to forgive their sins.
“Here I am at your service, O God. Here I am, at your service. You have no partner,” thousands of pilgrims chanted on Saturday in unison.
Roads at the site are lined with water sprinklers to bring down the temperatures that reached 40
Some pilgrims expressed jubilation for performing the Haj, one of Islam’s five pillars.
“I feel happiness, which I can’t describe,” Afia Khaled, a Sudanese woman, told the official Saudi news agency SPA.
The Haj is a mandatory duty for all Muslims once in a lifetime if they possess enough financial resources and are physically capable of undertaking the journey.
Over the past few days, Saudi officials have repeatedly warned pilgrims not to engage in politics and called on them to focus on worshipping. — dpa