Millions pray for peace and unity at Arafat

arafat, saudi, haj, eid al adha

Thousands of faithful had spent the night under the stars, sleeping on prayer rugs or pieces of cardboard.

By Reuters, AFP

Published: Sun 11 Aug 2019, 11:57 PM

Nearly two million faithful gathered at Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat on Saturday amid the summer heat for a vigil to atone for their sins and seek God's forgiveness as part of the annual Haj.
Pilgrims clad in white robes spent the night in a sprawling encampment around the hill.
Other worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn.
Clutching brightly coloured umbrellas, pilgrims first braved the blazing sun and then heavy downpours that many welcomed as a blessing.
Some burst into tears as they recited prayers.
Thousands of faithful had spent the night under the stars, sleeping on prayer rugs or pieces of cardboard.
Trucks were parked at regular intervals on the route leading up to the hill, distributing bottles of water and meals.
Helicopters criss-crossed overhead, part of the tight security precautions taken by the Saudi hosts. Once on the hill, pilgrims sat or lay in whatever space they could find. Many prayed, some cried.
Zaid Abdullah, a 30-year-old Yemeni who works in a supermarket in Saudi Arabia, said he was praying for his own country, and for Muslims around the globe.
"We can tolerate the heat because our sins are greater than that," he said as he approached the granite hill also known as the Jabal Al Rahma. "We ask Allah to alleviate the heat of the hereafter. As for the heat of this life, we can bear it."
Hamood Ismail and his wife Raghdaa travelled from Syria, through Turkey, while taxi driver Khaled Maatouq came from Libya. They all said they were seeking an end to the suffering in their homelands which have been torn apart by conflict. For others, the pilgrimage is a form of relief. Egyptian merchant Ramadan Al Jeedi said he was grateful to accompany his mother after his father passed away last year.
"It's the greatest feeling, to feel that Allah the almighty chose us to be in this place," he said.
Nadzmi Maruji Naid from the Philippines said he felt comfortable but a little nervous about making Haj for the first time: "God willing, everyone here will be accepted by Allah."
More than two million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
Among them are 200 survivors and relatives of victims of the attacks on two New Zealand mosques in March.
After spending the day on Mount Arafat, the pilgrims was moving to the plain of Muzdalifa by sunset to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolising the devil at Jamarat on Sunday, which marks the first day of Eid Al Adha.
Sheep are slaughtered for the three-day event, a tribute to the Prophet Ibrahim's (peace be upon him) sacrifice of a lamb after God spared Ishmael, his son.
Pilgrims then return to the Grand Mosque to perform a final "tawaf" or walk around the Kaaba.

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