Annual Hajj Pilgrimage Begins

Erika Holt
August 12, 2019

"We hope Yemen will be united for good", said Ali Ahmed Al-Sudani, a Yemeni pilgrim who said he was praying for unity in his war-torn country.

"Now that the date of Arafat has been declared and Friday, 9th August has been billed for movement of Lagos pilgrims to Muna, the Board management has designed scheduled prayers for the different local governments to supplicate for Allah's protection for a safe journey to and fro Muna as well as success on the exercise".

To mark the completion of the hajj, male pilgrims shave their hair and women trim theirs to represent a spiritual renewal and rebirth.

Saudi officials said that 2.26 million pilgrims had arrived in Mina by late Friday, of which 1.86 million were from overseas, the state-run SPA news agency reported. "You have to live it to understand it", said an Algerian in his fifties completing the pilgrimage for the first time. In Muzdalifah, the Hujjaj will pick up 70 pebbles to perform ritual of Rammi by stoning the Shaitan.

But hajj official Hassan Qadi acknowledged "very few Qataris have come to Mecca for the pilgrimage".

The Hajj sees Muslims walk around the holiest place in the Islamic world, the Kaaba at the Masjid al-Haram Mosque. He included among his guests for the hajj this year 200 survivors and relatives of victims of the mosque attacks in New Zealand, where a gunman opened fire and killed 51 people in March.

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Hajj is a top priority for Saudi Arabia and it is working tirelessly to ensure that pilgrims have a smooth experience, he added.

After spending the night in the massive valley of Mina, the pilgrims head to Mount Arafat, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Mecca, for the pinnacle of the pilgrimage. The rituals include circling the Kaaba or the monotheistic house of worship located in the center of Grand Mosque.

Riyadh blames regional foe Tehran for the attacks on commercial shipping, accusations Iran vehemently denies. - AFP Sudanese pilgrims embrace as they congratulate each other for performing the annual hajj pilgrimage near the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat.

Around two million pilgrims from around the world converged in Arafat on Saturday to perform the main ritual of Hajj "Waqoof-e-Arafat". However, this year the Saudi Ministry of Hajj is working to prevent any further stampeding incidents.

- Tens of thousands of security personnel, including more than 17,000 civil defence employees, are deployed to help safeguard pilgrims, officials say.

Meanwhile, earlier reported that a top Saudi scholar, Shiekh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, asked all pilgrims to stay away from any act that could politicise the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

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