Muslims begin annual Haj pilgrimage

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims began the main rituals of the annual pilgrimage on Sunday, heading from Makkah to the camp of Mina since they descended on The Holy City.

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Published: Sun 14 Nov 2010, 1:53 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:12 AM

There are no official figures yet for the total number of pilgrims but some estimates put the number as high as 2.5 million this year.

Authorities say permits have been granted to 1.7 million foreign pilgrims, with a further 200,000 or so issued to pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia and from neighbouring states.

This year has seen a crackdown on pilgrims who do not have the requisite papers as authorities attempt to prevent numbers getting out of hand.

A driver caught transporting unauthorised pilgrims faces a fine of 10,000 riyals (2,667 dollars) for each individual.

The passage to Mina marks the official launch of the Haj on the eighth day of the Muslim calendar month of Zul Hijjah.

‘Good deeds in Zul Hijjah equal to Haj’

Miss the chance to perform Haj this year, you still can open a fresh chapter and renew your relationship with the Creator in the first 10 days of the Holy Month of Zul Hijjah.

“The first third of the month, being kind of worship carnival, is a precious time for tolerance, reflection, giving, seeking Allah’s forgiveness, and doing good deeds,” said Egyptian Islamic researcher Dr Sheikh Mohammed Ashmawy, adding: “Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) said ‘There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these 10 days (of Zul Hijjah)’.”

“When asked if worship in these days excelled Jihad, the Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Not even Jihad, except a man who lost his life and wealth while fighting for the sake of Allah’,” Dr Ashmawy said.

“When Allah takes an oath upon some aspect, it is to illustrate the great significance of it. Among these is the first 10 nights of Zul Hijjah by which Allah swears in the Quran: ‘By the ten nights’ 89/1 &2’, We are encouraged to be in a more positive relationship with God Almighty to attain piety,” he said.

Calling Muslims to take the maximum advantage of this gift, Dr Ashmawy said the door is wide open for good doers and some of the more specific actions mentioned in the sayings of the Prophet are fasting, reading the Holy Quran, Zikr, offering sacrifice, giving for charity, Duaa (supplication).

“Muslims are encouraged in particular to fast the ninth day of Zul-Hijjah or Arafa day which will fall on Monday November-12 this year. The Prophet used to fast on this day saying that fasting on this day will expiate a Muslim’s sins for two years; a year before and a year after.”

So virtuous are these days that Muslims should engage themselves in even more good deeds.

“One should fast on as many of these days as possible.” “To ignore these virtues is indeed a deprivation and sort of ingratitude to Allah.”

The remembrance of Allah through different words of praise and glorification in these days is also recommendable. “It is reported that Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah – two of the Prophet’s companions, used to go out to the market place during the 10 days of Zul-Hijjah) saying: ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa Ilaaha illa Allah, Wa Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Wa li’llahi Alhamd’.”

It is a beloved act to voice up when saying Takbeer in the markets, the houses, the streets, the Masjids and other places.

Seeking Allah’s forgiveness at this time is also encouraged. This means more than just a verbal expression of sorrow for past misdeeds. “It requires a firm resolution to avoid making the same mistakes in the future by giving up bad habits and behaviour while sincerely turning to Allah,” he said.

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