1.5m Muslims throng Mount Arafat as hajj reaches climax
KABUL (Pajhwok): Millions of Muslims, including 24,000 Afghans, from across the world on Sunday offered Waqf al-Arafa, one of the essential hajj rituals at Mount Arafat for the highest point of the annual pilgrimage in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Nearly 1.5 million Muslims from Asia, Africa and points in between began the annual Hajj pilgrimage on Saturday. They moved to Mina from Makkah last night for the first leg of hajj and thronged the Mount Arafat on Sunday.
The pilgrims offered noon and afternoon prayers jointly at the Arafat mosque and listened to the hajj sermon.
After sunset, the pilgrims will march toward Muzdalifah Valley and spend the night there in prayers after performing combined Maghreb (evening) and Isha (night) prayers.
At Muzalifah, the pilgrims will spend the night under the open skies and on the first day of Eidul Adha (Monday), the pilgrims would return to Mina after offering Eid prayers.
They will stone the devil the same day, cut short hair and remove ihram. The stoning of devil will continue on the second and third day of Eid.
Meanwhile, a Saudi paper reported that, for the first time in 35 years, Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al Sheikh will not deliver the Hajj sermon.
The numbers are down because of the absence of tens of thousands of Iranians over tensions between their countries. The 2015 stampede magnified those frictions.
Last September 24, Mina was the scene of the deadliest disaster in Hajj history, when the stampede broke out as pilgrims made their way to the Jamarat Bridge for a stoning ritual.
Although Riyadh stuck with a stampede death toll of 769, data from foreign officials in more than 30 countries gave a tally almost three times higher – at least 2,297.
Saudi Arabia announced an investigation but no results have ever been released, although a number of safety measures have been taken.
Government facilities have been moved out of Mina to free up space, and roads in the Jamarat area expanded, Saudi newspapers reported.
Officials have been issuing pilgrims with bracelets that digitally store their personal data, after some foreign officials expressed concern about difficulties in identifying the stampede dead.
Interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al Turki spoke of “great efforts being exerted by the kingdom, not only in maintaining the security and safety of the pilgrims, but in facilitating performance” of the rites in comfort.
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