With Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik... (O God, here I am
answering Your call) on their lips and dressed in two pieces of
plain cloths, over three million Hajis from
all across the world began arriving at Arafat. They will be here
for the entire day and would leave the holy ground before sunset.
Wukoof e Arafat - as the
assembling on this ground is referred to as - is one of the
important parts of Hajj - the annual ritual performed to
commemorate the Biblical Prophet Abraha, his wife Hager and son
At Arafat, the pilgrims will offer
Zuhar and Asar prayers - the two prayers offered in the afternoon
in and near Masjid-e-Namira.
They will also listen to the special
Hajj sermon delivered after these two prayers.
On the Plains of Arafat now, the Hajis are desperate to bare their hearts before Almighty Allah and
beseech Him to forgive them and bless them. What tops the list of
their prayers is often secret, perhaps something that they would
admit to no one but God. However, there are some pilgrims who will
confide their wishes. It is not surprising that a huge range of
requests are being made to God on the Plains of Arafat. Some
prayers are for the general good of humanity also.
Earlier, the valley of Mina, which
otherwise remains deserted throughout the year, came alive Sunday
as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims poured into the city chanting
“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, here I am answering Your
call). Official estimates have put the number of pilgrims at 2.5
Mina is the first stop for pilgrims on the way to the Plains of
Arafat for the Haj climax on Monday.
Once in the city and in their fireproof tents, the pilgrims busied
themselves reciting the Holy Qur’an and performing prayers or with
efforts to locate relatives. Many tried to catch some sleep after
a tiring journey from Jeddah and Makkah. Till late afternoon,
pilgrims were still making their way into the holy city.
“Stage one has gone very well for us," said Muhammad Taj and his
wife Fatima from Khartoum, Sudan. “We started after Fajr from
Makkah and were here in our camp by 8 a.m.," said Taj. He said
some of the streets were clogged "but our driver knew the best way
Meanwhile, a member of the Indian Haj delegation, Meraj Ahmed,
congratulated Saudi Arabia for making exceptional arrangements.
"They have done a remarkable job," he said.
Ahmed is a former minister in
India's Uttar Pradesh state. He said Mina has undergone a complete
change. "This is not the Mina I visited 10 years ago. It is now
the most modern city with most modern facilities. He, however,
complained about haphazard arrangement in the Indian pilgrim
camps. "Many Indian Hajis came complaining to us about lack of