Over 2 million Muslims have moved en-mass to Arafat ground today, Sunday, to observe the climax of 2016 Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia – The Arafat standing. The pilgrims started trooping to Arafat before dawn this morning.
They are following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W. who performed the same rituals about 1,400 years ago.
“It’s an indescribable feeling. You have to live it to understand. This is my sixth hajj and I still cannot express how happy I am to be in Mecca,” said Hassan Mohammed, 60, from Egypt.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which capable Muslims must perform at least once, marking the spiritual peak of their lives.
“People come from every country of the world, talk every language of the world, and meet here in one place under one banner, the profession of the Muslim faith,” said Ashraf Zalat, 43, also from Egypt.
The first day of hajj was traditionally the chance for pilgrims to let their animals drink and to stock up on water.
Then they proceed to Mount Arafat, several kilometres further, for the peak of the hajj on Sunday.
Meanwhile, for the first time in 35 years, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric will not give a traditional hajj sermon to pilgrims from around the world, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh has annually addressed the faithful from the Namira mosque in Mount Arafat for the peak of hajj, which this year falls on Sunday.
Okaz newspaper, citing anonymous sources, said Sheikh, “will step down from delivering the sermon on the day of Arafat, due to health reasons.”
He was appointed Grand Mufti in 1999 after the death of his predecessor, Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Baz.
But Okaz said Sheikh had for about two decades prior to that, given the annual address to the hajj throng at the site where Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his farewell sermon.
Okaz said the mufti spent about two months preparing for each address.
Sheikh Abdulaziz is a descendant of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, the 18th-century fundamentalist preacher who co-founded the Saudi state.