RIYADH – As hajj season approaches, the holy city of Madinah is preparing to receive more than 600,000 visitors who will visit the mosque of Prophet Muhammad before embarking on their pilgrimage.
The number was released by Hatim Qadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, who said the pilgrims started arriving in Madinah on Thursday.
“On that day, 60 Hajj flights landed at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah,” he was quoted by Saudi Gazette on Monday, August 8.
He added that 14 lounges have been prepared at the airport to receive the pilgrims who will be served by 42 passport counters.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several rituals, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Anticipating the arrival of the first hajj groups, Qadi said all government and private establishments are geared to provide pilgrims with the best services that will help them perform their acts of worship in peace and comfort.
Qadi said the number of pilgrims this year is expected to be similar to last year as the cut in the quota system is still being applied.
Prophet Muhammad’s mosque was first built in 622 CE, after Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) immigrated to Madinah and built a mosque next to his house.
At the Prophet’s time, the mosque had an extensive role since it stood as the center of the city community. It was also considered a religious school and a court.