(Saudi Arabia): Nearly 3 million Muslims performing the
annual Haj pilgrimage who gathered on the Plains of Arafat for
wukoof, November 15 are now marching towards Muzadlifa.
At Muzdalifa, they will spent the
night before leaving for Mina the following morning and the second
day of Haj.
Earlier, the pilgrims climbed their
way up Mount Arafat, chanting that they have come to answer God’s
The white-robed pilgrims began their ascent at the crack of dawn,
covering the Mountain of Mercy at Arafat in an endless sea of
white as their chants, "Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God,
here I am answering Your call), reverberated overhead.
The climb at Arafat is one of the cornerstones of the pilgrimage,
which is required from every able-bodied Muslim at least once in
their life time. It’s the site where Prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) delivered his farewell sermon and Muslims believe on
this day the doors of heavens open to answer prayers and grant
Charities and vendors along the way handed out food packages and
umbrellas to shield the climbers from the harsh sun.
One of the pilgrims, Wassim Ahmad, from Mumbai, India, said this
was his first Haj and that he felt like a child, reborn.
“Today is like judgment day,” said the 29-year-old. “We have come
to pray to God ... a new child has been born.”
Alone and obviously on her first hajj, 46-year-old Egyptian, Um
Sayed, kept asking people for directions.
“There is nothing greater than feeling that you are going to meet
God,” she said. “The whole body shivers.”
Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa are the three stops on the pilgrims’
journey during the hajj, as worshippers trace the steps of Prophet
The Haj draws millions of worshippers each year, the sheer numbers
a challenge in preventing stampedes at holy sites, fires in
pilgrim encampments and the spread of disease.
This year Saudi authorities have taken new measures to improve
crowd management, including launching a new light-rail system to
transport pilgrims between the shrines.