Asharq Al-Awsat and Agencies – From the early hours of Tuesday morning, December 18, the plain of Mount Arafat, east of Mecca, received over 2 million Muslim pilgrims who have traveled from all over the world to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam, namely, the Hajj pilgrimage.
In their various languages, pilgrims made their supplications to God whilst standing on Mount Arafat, which is also known as the ‘Mountain of Mercy’, asking God to forgive their sins, to have mercy upon the souls of the deceased, to strengthen their faith and to help support Muslims and Islam.
The Saudi leadership and the authorities concerned with Hajj affairs have monitored the movement of pilgrims in Mecca and the holy places from their arrival to Mina on Monday morning, 17 December, until they reached the plain of Mount Arafat on Tuesday. It is expected that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, and the Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz will visit Mina on Tuesday evening to directly oversee the movement of the pilgrims to ensure their comfort and that the services are extended to them. The Saudi kingdom, leadership and nation is honored to serve the pilgrims and to facilitate the pilgrimage for them.
The Saudi Minister of Interior, Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz played a central and direct role as chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee as he personally supervised over a number of hajj-related executive authorities with the intention of monitoring the movement of pilgrims and overseeing the services and facilities offered to them. The significant role of Prince Naif as head of the Supreme Hajj Committee is supported by the Governor of Mecca, Prince Khaled al Faisal.
Millions of Muslim pilgrims moved to Muzdalifa on Tuesday evening after spending the afternoon on the plain of Arafat. A stream of hundreds of thousands of people moved under the night sky along a special highway served by huge floodlights towards the next stage of the ancient rites in Saudi Arabia.
At Muzdalifa they will collect small pebbles for throwing at a set of walls on three occasions over the next three days in an act that represents defiance of the devil.
During their journeys on foot or via various forms of transport, pilgrims reiterate the following supplication: “Here I am at your service, O Lord, here I am, here I am. Truly, the praise, provisions and dominion are Yours. There is no partner with You.”
At Mount Arafat, Zaki Ali Ibrahim, an Egyptian driver working in Saudi Arabia, said he spent the whole night in prayer with friends. “I prayed that all Muslims may prosper, and that I may prosper with them,” he said. “I felt that my prayers for Muslims were strong and that they reached God.”
Shazli Atallah Mohamed, a plumber from the southern Egyptian province of Qena, said that on the hilltop he felt he was closer to God than anywhere else on earth. “I prayed that God might accept us all into paradise,” he said.