Saudi Arabia: As the annual Hajj rituals reach climax in Saudi Arabia after a gap of two years as hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the globe have thronged the holy city of Mecca to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage – the mega Muslim religious event.
Chanting Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik, Hujjaj gathered in in Maidan-e-Arafat to perform the Rukn-e-Azam of Hajj Waqoof-e-Arafat since Friday sunrise.
After Azan-e-Maghrib, the pilgrims will leave for Muzdalifah where they will offer Maghrib and Isha prayers together and spend the night under open sky. They will also collect pebbles from Muzdalifah to throw at Satin the next morning. After offering Fajr Prayer at Muzdalifah, they will leave for Mina for the remaining Hajj rituals.
Reports suggest that as many as 850,000 foreign pilgrims are performing Hajj for the first time after a hiatus of two years following the travel restrictions imposed by Saudi authorities due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s an opportunity for Muslims to fulfill a once-in-a-lifetime religious obligation, but also a chance for the economy of Saudi Arabia’s holy cities to get a jump start.
Pilgrims clad in white robes climbed the rocky Mount of Mercy, which oversees the plain of Arafat where the Prophet Mohammad held his last sermon.
For the last couple of years this number has been substantially reduced – like many things – due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the pilgrimage has returned in full force in 2022.
The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the most important traditions in Islam, and involves carrying out a journey to the Kaaba, a sacred building in Mecca that all prayers are directed towards by Muslims around the world.
As one of the five pillars of Islam, all Muslims are expected to carry out the journey at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so.
It dates back to the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham in the Jewish and Christian traditions), according to the Qu’ran, but is also linked to the Prophet Mohammed, who is believed to have established the rites performed at the end the pilgrimage.
Hajj is seen as a time of self-renewal and symbolises equality, bringing people of all races and social statuses together for a series or rituals taking place over five or six days.
These include walking seven times anti-clockwise around the Kaaba, throwing pebbles at a pillar to symbolise stoning Satan, and sacrificing an animal.