MINA: About 2 million pilgrims converged on the tent city of Mina on Monday morning to begin the spiritual journey of a lifetime, as the scared pilgrimage of Hajj 1444 got underway.
By evening, the site reverberated to the sound of the pilgrims’ reciting Talbiyah, their prayer of intent to perform Hajj for the glory of Allah. Men wearing traditional seamless white cotton garments and women in abayas uttered the words, “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (Oh God, here I am answering your call),” as they streamed into the massive site, about 8 kilometers northeast of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
In accordance with the practices that had been handed down from the Prophet Muhammad, the pilgrims spent the first day of the journey, which was known as Tarwiyah Day, reciting prayers in an effort to atone for their past transgressions. After praying the Dhuhr, Asr, Maghreb, and Isha prayers, they will spend the night making their final preparations in order to stand before God (wuqoof) on the plains of Mount Arafat on Tuesday.
The pilgrims will go for Mount Arafat on Tuesday immediately following the morning prayer known as Fajr. This is the location where the Prophet delivered his last speech over 1,400 years ago.
This year marks the first return to a full-scale Hajj since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and Saudi authorities have made thorough arrangements to ensure the safe and flawless movement of pilgrims. Those Arab News spoke to had nothing but praise for officials’ efforts to make their Hajj experience as easy, pleasant and spiritual as possible.
Mohammed Hammad, from Nigeria, said: “I really feel great to be closer to the Almighty. This is a good opportunity to interact directly with the Almighty, and pray for good, peace and prosperity.”
Mohammed Nauman, who hails from Afghanistan, shared his thoughts: “I would like to express my gratitude to the All-Powerful Allah for providing me with the opportunity to perform Hajj.” I am at a loss for words to describe how I am feeling. We pray that the All-Powerful would make it simple for those of us who have come to do the Hajj.
Tomorrow, we are going to pray and recite verses from the Qur’an both here in the tent city and on Mount Arafat. After that, we are going to spend the night in Muzdalifah.
In addition to the logistical issues that come with transferring so many people from one place to another over the course of many days during Hajj, another layer of complexity is added by the blistering heat, with temperatures averaging around 43 degrees Celsius.
A traveler from Afghanistan who identified himself as Hafizullah remarked, “We have taken all precautions; we have doctors here ready to help if it is needed.”
“There are no words to adequately express the profound feelings of happiness and fulfillment that I am experiencing right now. Being in the dwelling that the Almighty calls home brings me closer to him. My journey to the holy site gave me newfound confidence and helped me become more resilient.
The Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and every Muslim who is physically and financially competent to perform it is required to do so at least once in their lifetime. The Hajj takes place during the month of Dhul Hijjah, which is the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar.
To begin the first day of the Hajj, male pilgrims must first don the traditional white, seamless, two-piece robe and enter the holy state known as “Ihram.” Women typically cover their hair and wear clothing that is baggy or loose-fitting.
The ritual of Hajj takes place over a period of five days. On the eighth day of the month of Dhul Hijjah, it will officially begin. Immediately following the early morning Fajr prayers in Makkah, pilgrims make their journey to Mina, which is approximately 8 kilometers distant. They pray and recite verses from the Qur’an throughout the day and night while they are there.
The next day, pilgrims will make their journey to Arafat and will remain on the desert plains until after nightfall, during which time they will pray and repent. Pilgrims are not believed to have successfully completed the Hajj if they do not perform the rituals on this day, as it is the single most significant day of the journey.
The next step for the pilgrims is to make their way to Muzdalifah, which is a valley located between Mina and Mount Arafat. Here, they will spend the night outside and will collect small pebbles in preparation for a rite that will take place the following day.
On the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, after the Fajr prayers, pilgrims go from Muzdalifah to Jamarat. Once there, they throw the pebbles they collected at three pillars depicting the Devil. This responsibility can be passed on to a male by women and adults of advanced age.
As is customary after performing Umrah, at this point men must shave their heads, while women must remove a small lock of hair from the back of their head. In addition, pilgrims are obligated to offer the sacrifice of an animal and distribute the flesh to those who are in need. Those who are unable to directly carry out the sacrifice have the option of delegating the responsibility. After that, pilgrims make their way back to Makkah to visit the Grand Mosque.