MAKKAH – Seeking forgiveness from Allah, millions of Muslim pilgrims ascended Monday, August 20, Mount `Arafat, east of the holy city of Makkah, in the climax of hajj after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina.
“Today is the most important part of the hajj, and we are all feeling great, and we pray for all Muslims in the world,” said Abdel-Munem Ali, a Libyan pilgrim, AP reported.
Syrian pilgrim Mohammad Nezar said he was praying “to Allah to restore peace for people everywhere.”
Mohammad Neem, a Pakistani pilgrim, said he couldn’t find the words to describe his feelings. “This is the day to pray, and this is the right time to do that,” he added.
Pilgrims flocked to `Arafat, also known as “Mount of Mercy”, from early morning, after spending a night of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina which marked the first leg of their five-day spiritual journey.
Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (Here I am answering Your call, O God),” the pilgrims took their way to `Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered his last sermon 14 centuries ago.
Following the lead of the Prophet Sunnah, the pilgrims performed noon and afternoon prayer “Dhuhr and Asr” combined and shortened at the Namera Mosque.
Pilgrims spend the day on the plains of `Arafat in the most essential pillar of hajj.
For the rest of the day, the pilgrims supplicate to God to forgive their sins and grant them mercy and pray for fellow Muslims, and for unity and peace around the world.
Pilgrims then will descend by train back to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, where they will take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba and spend the night.
On Tuesday, all pilgrims head back to Mina, where they sacrifice animals to mark the beginning of the four-day `Eid Al-Adha.
Muslims who perform hajj properly return to their homes having all their sins washed away as promised by Prophet Muhammad.
Every year, Makkah sees millions of Muslims from around the world pouring to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj’s ceremonies 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.