Arafat/Mina: Around two million Muslims from across the world and inside the Kingdom who had gathered in Mina for Hajj rituals Saturday have begun moving to Arafat after sunrise this morning for Waqoof-e-Arafat, the main ritual of Hajj on 9th of Dhul Hijjah. The day is also called as Youme Arafat or Arafat Day.
Hujjaj - the pilgrims from about 164 nations will stay in Arafat till sunset today spending the day in prayers. In between they will offer Zohar and Asr prayers together and listen to the Hajj Khutba (Haj Sermon) at Masjid Nimra.
The Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who has been delivering the Hajj sermon consistently for the last 35 years since 1981 will unfortunately not be doing so this year, due to health reasons. The sermon will be delivered by Sheikh Saleh Bin Hameed Talha. Sheikh Saleh previously served as chairman of the Shoura Council and was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Council.
Earlier the pilgrims arrived from Makkah to Mina and camped in the tent city on Saturday. They chanted “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (Here I am, O Allah, answering Your call) and spent the night in the solidly built white tents.
The weather conditions were particularly harsh, but the physically drained and spiritually charged pilgrims seemed undeterred. Most of them remained inside their tents or the massive Al-Khaif Mosque reciting verses from the Holy Qur’an.
Security arrangements for Hajj this year have been made specially tight, with 100 drone copters flying in the air and special allocation of fireproof biometric SIMs and e-bracelets to the pilgrims.
In a cable addressed to King Salman, the crown prince said: “I am honored on this blessed day to express my warmest greetings and congratulations to you on the successful and safe arrival of pilgrims by air, land and sea for Haj 2016.
"They have arrived in the holy land in peace and security, thanks to Allah Almighty and your continuing care for all services to them which create the means of comfort and enable them to perform their Haj rituals easily and safely.”
The crown prince prayed to Allah Almighty to preserve King Salman “for this nation as a leader and builder of its renaissance, and for the continuation of the blessings of security and faith for this country.”
Everyone had a word of praise for the excellent arrangements.
Indian Consul General Noor Rahman Sheikh said the movement of pilgrims from Makkah to Mina was “absolutely hassle-free.”
“Our pilgrims had no problems whatsoever,” he told Arab News. “The cooling system inside the tents worked fine, and there were no complaints from anyone.”
More than 100,000 Indian pilgrims are performing Haj this year.
Pakistani TV journalist Shaukat Piracha was ecstatic at the massive arrangements.
“The Saudi government has done excellent preparations,” he said. “I am very happy, very excited to experience this exhilarating glimpse of the Muslim Ummah here in this holy land.”
He said: “A mere thank you is not enough for what they (the Saudis) have done and are doing. They richly deserve to be the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”
Professor Talat Ahmad, vice chancellor of India’s Jamia Millia Islamia, was equally thrilled. “This is amazing. I am overwhelmed,” he said. “This is my first Haj. I performed Umrah two years ago.”
Nasser Benfitah, 54, from Morocco, echoed Piracha’s sentiments. “Everything is well organized,” she told AFP.
Ashraf Zalat, 43, from Egypt, said: “People come from every country of the world, talk every language of the world, and meet here in one place, under one banner.”
“We feel safe,” said Nigerian pilgrim Hafsa Amina, 26.
“It’s marvelous. I feel closer to Allah. It is an indescribable feeling,” an Egyptian pilgrim, who gave her name only as Louza, told AFP.
Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which financially sound adult Muslims must perform at least once, marking the spiritual peak of their lives.