By Arab News
Nearly two million pilgrims, from all corners of the world, converged on the plains of Arafat, 15 km from the holy city of Makkah, on Sunday to perform the most important ritual of Haj — Wuqoof-e-Arafat.
A white sea of the faithful surged from Mina to Arafat as dawn broke on the second day of the five-day pilgrimage. Waves of men in seamless white garments and veiled women in long dresses joined voices in a crescendo chant of “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (Here I am O Allah, answering your call). Standing at Mount Arafat in prayer before sunset on 9th Dul Hijjah is the high point of Haj.
The pilgrims were completely lost in their surroundings in a fervor of religious enthusiasm.
It was very hot, with temperatures often above 40 degrees Celsius. However, the harsh rays of the sun did not dampen the spirit of the pilgrims and they remained unperturbed and recited verses from the Holy Qur’an with even greater vigor.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of pilgrims as they climbed Jabal Al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, where Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, delivered his final sermon more than 14 centuries ago.
The mount was crowded by pilgrims who sat or stood there for hours contemplating and praying.
Under multicolored umbrellas as protection from the burning sun, the mass of people moved through the broad streets of Arafat.
Egyptian pilgrim Mahmoud Awny said the feeling of being in Arafat was “indescribable.” “All Muslims wish they could be here today. Thanks be to Allah for enabling me to be here,” he said.
“I have prayed to God to have mercy on us, give us relief and resolve Syria’s crisis,” said Umm Fadi, wearing a traditional long black embroidered dress and head scarf native to her home in southern Syria.
“From the bottom of my heart, I pray that Allah will lift this agony from Syria and its people,” she said.
“Muslims come here from everywhere and we are all the same,” said Khadem Ndyaye, 47, from Senegal.
Indian pilgrim Mohammed Arefin, 40, said he felt “chosen by Allah” for being able to perform Haj. “It is very moving to see the Muslims of the world pray together here,” he said. “It’s the most beautiful moment of my life,” said Ahmad Salman, an Egyptian pilgrim.
Soon after sunset, the pilgrims headed to nearby Muzdalifa where they will spend the night under the open skies and collect pea-sized pebbles to perform the symbolic ritual of stoning the devil on Monday in Mina.