DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Round 2 million Muslims are converging Tuesday within the valleys and hills round Mecca for the head day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. They’re gathering at Mount Arafat, the place the Prophet Muhammad delivered his remaining sermon about 1,400 years in the past.
That is the most important pilgrimage since 2019, after which the Hajj was dramatically curbed on account of coronavirus restrictions that restricted the gathering to only a few thousand folks.
Right here, women and men spend the day in deep prayer and, in what is called duaa and dhikr, practices by which Muslims recite Allah’s identify, they learn the Quran and pray for forgiveness, therapeutic and mercy.
It is right here, within the space of Mount Arafat on a hill known as Jabal al-Rahma, or Mountain of Mercy, the place the Prophet Muhammad advised his followers in his remaining sermon that simply as males have sure rights over ladies, that ladies, too, have rights over males. He described ladies as companions who have to be handled nicely and with kindness.
He additionally spoke about racial equality in his sermon, saying that no individual has superiority over the opposite based mostly on ethnicity or race. He stated distinction comes solely by means of piety and good deeds. He known as for unity and brotherhood amongst Muslims.
The seamless white terrycloth robes worn by male pilgrims are meant to embody that spirit of unity, so easy in look as to make one’s standing and wealth practically indistinguishable. Ladies are required to forgo make-up, fragrance and different aesthetics in the course of the Hajj, letting go of fabric trappings. They gown modestly in head coverings.
Egyptian pilgrim Haitham Abuwafiya, 41, stated he has skilled random acts of kindness from different pilgrims on the Hajj. He stated an Algerian man seated close to him supplied to share his meal moderately than waste the meals. In one other instance, a South African man was shopping for doughnuts in a meals court docket in Mecca and insisted on shopping for for Abuwafiya, who was standing in line behind him.
“I advised him I’ve cash, however he insisted on paying,” he stated. “You do not really feel unusual or that another person [from another country] is unusual to you. Everyone seems to be right here for a similar cause, for God and worship. Individuals are compassionate and the temper is nice.”
Rituals of the Hajj
Whereas the Hajj in Islam follows the trail the Prophet Muhammad as soon as walked, it is also believed to hint the paths the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail as soon as took, or as they’re recognized within the Bible, Abraham and Ishmael.
Ladies additionally play a task within the historical past of the Hajj by means of the story of Ibrahim’s spouse, Hajar (generally known as Hagar within the Bible).
As a part of any pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims stroll between two hills seven instances, retracing Hajar’s seek for water for her dying son earlier than a spring appeared that runs to at the present time there. The sacred nicely of Zamzam continues to supply ingesting water for pilgrims.
That path between the hills at this time is marbled, shaded and has a number of flooring to accommodate the massive variety of pilgrims performing this ritual generally known as sa’i, which represents life’s tribulations, God’s mercy and life’s fixed motion.
One other key a part of the Hajj is circling the Kaaba seven instances and reciting prayers.
“Earlier than something, it’s a must to have conviction,” Abuwafiya stated in regards to the Hajj. “It’s important to consider in it.”
The Hajj takes roughly 5 days to finish, together with three days in Mina, a big tent metropolis the place Muslims forged stones at pillars in a symbolic act meant to signify the casting away of sins and religious renewal.
The Hajj is likely one of the largest and most logistically difficult gatherings of individuals on Earth. It constantly poses a problem for Saudi authorities as they host folks and handle crowds from practically each nation on the planet. The dominion additionally has cellular clinics and has constructed hospitals close to the varied stops of the Hajj to deal with pilgrims who want it.
In 2015, greater than 2,000 pilgrims died in Mina when crowds converged down a slim road, inflicting a crush of individuals and stampede. The incident drew criticism over the dominion’s administration of the crowds, which had been presupposed to be directed down one-way roads to keep away from this from taking place.
The which means of Hajj
Muslims who’re bodily and financially succesful are required to carry out the Hajj as soon as in a lifetime. Many save up a lifetime to carry out the Hajj whereas others depend on donations and charity to make the journey.
With flights, buses, lodging and visas by means of licensed Hajj operators, the associated fee can fluctuate round $1,000 per pilgrim to tens of 1000’s for individuals who can afford the upscale motels overlooking the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Muslims consider the Hajj provides an opportunity to wipe away previous sins by surrendering to God for mercy and power.
The Hajj coincides with a number of days of Eid al-Adha celebrations, by which Muslims around the globe commemorate the Prophet Ibrahim’s take a look at of religion. On the primary day of the Eid, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute its meat to those that can not afford to purchase and eat it.
Most pilgrims will spend a minimal of two weeks in and round Mecca for the Hajj, and plenty of may even journey to the Saudi metropolis of Medina earlier than departing the dominion to go to what is called the prophet’s mosque, the place Prophet Muhammad buried.