Hajj reaches climax on plains of Arafat

Hajj during the time of COVID-19. Editorial credit: Leo Morgan

Hajj pilgrims ascended the vast plains of Arafat on Thursday, about 15 km east of Makkah, at the climax of this year’s pilgrimage.

Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (O God, here I am answering Your call)…,” they flocked this morning to Namirah Mosque in Arafat, after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina.

Amid precautionary measures and preventive protocols against coronavirus, pilgrims moved to Arafat while maintaining social distance to ensure their safety as well as the safety of those who are engaged in serving them.

The pilgrims took their places in the 110,000 square meter mosque while keeping social distancing and wearing masks.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Suleiman Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars and adviser at the Royal Court, delivered the Arafat sermon. He then led the prayers at the grand Namirah Mosque.

In his sermon, Sheikh Al-Manea urged the pilgrims to be pious and fear God in all aspects of their life. Referring to the pandemic situation, he emphasised that adversities are the best time for the faithful to be closer to God and show patience and increase their virtues.

He also reminded the faithful to seize the pandemic period to recognise God’s limitless abilities and bounties, and return to Him with humility, penitence, and hope.

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“Adversities of this world serve as a test for people and allow those who persevere to be distinguished from those who are impatient. Adversities remind human beings about the hereafter and prompt them to prepare for the abode of Paradise where they witness no adversities or sorrows.”

Sheikh Al-Manea also underscored that Islam’s teachings seek to ensure people’s health and physical wellbeing. Citing the tradition of the Prophet (PBUH) that prohibits traveling from one place to another during times of epidemic, he said the government of Saudi Arabia decided accordingly to limit the number of people performing Hajj this year by choosing citizens as well as expatriates representing a wide array of nationalities.

Pilgrims were set to engage in prayers and supplication until after sunset. The Prophet said about the Arafat day: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Hell than the Day of Arafat.

After sunset, the pilgrims will march toward Muzdalifah Valley and spend the night there in prayers after performing Maghreb and Isha prayers combined.

Meanwhile, Muslims across the world observed fasting on Thursday in a sign of solidarity with the pilgrims as it is a Sunnah for those who do not perform Hajj to observe fasting on Arafat day.

Health facilities at Mount Arafat have been equipped with general clinics staffed with physicians and consultants, in addition to specialised nursing staff. They are also equipped to deal with sunstroke and heat stress cases, in addition to cardiopulmonary resuscitation and intensive care units. There is also a mobile hospital in Arafat and mobile clinics in Muzdalifah to serve pilgrims until their departure from the two holy sites.

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