Look: Haj commences as pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat

Prayer on this day is believed to offer the best chance of erasing past sins and starting anew



Published: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 11:26 AM

Last updated: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 10:48 PM

Huge crowds of Muslim pilgrims started praying on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat early Friday, the high point of the biggest Haj pilgrimage since the pandemic forced drastic cuts in numbers for two years in a row.

Prayer on this day at Mount Arafat, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Makkah, is believed to offer the best chance of erasing past sins and starting anew.

The worshippers, capped at one million including 850,000 from abroad chosen by lottery, spent the night at camps in the valley of Mina, seven kilometres (four miles) from Makkah's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site.

The day spent on Mount Arafat is the pinnacle of the five-day Haj pilgrimage, which all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform at least once.

Many of the roughly 2 million pilgrims taking part in this year's Haj will climb a hill called Jabal al-Rahma, or mountain of mercy, in Arafat and spend time there in supplication.

Mount Arafat is where Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is believed to have delivered his final sermon, for the most important of the Haj rituals.

The white terrycloth garments worn by men throughout the five-day haj are forbidden to contain any stitching — a restriction meant to emphasize the equality of all Muslims and prevent wealthier pilgrims from differentiating themselves with more elaborate garments.

The day of Arafat is the one time during the Haj when roughly all pilgrims are in the same place at the same time.

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