More than fifteen lakh pilgrims from across the world observed the Day of Arafat, an occasion for repentance and supplication considered as the pinnacle of the annual Hajj pilgrimage on Sunday.
The worshipers began day-long prayers and recitals of the Holy Quran on a rocky hill known as Mount Arafat or Mount of Mercy, east of the Saudi city of Makkah, where Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave his last Hajj sermon.
The Day of Arafat falls on Dhu al-Hijah 9, the final month in the Islamic calendar. It comes a day before Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice).
After preliminary rituals this week at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the pilgrims moved eastwards on Saturday to Mina neighbourhood and then several kilometers further to Mount Arafat.
The Valley of Mina reverberated with Talbiya—a conviction that they intend to perform the Hajj only for the glory of Allah (SWT).
"It's an indescribable feeling. You have to live it to understand," Saudi Gazette quoted Hassan Mohammed, 60, from Egypt.
"People come from every country of the world, talk every language of the world, and meet here in one place under one banner, the profession of the Muslim faith," said Ashraf Zalat, 43, also from Egypt.
From Arafat, the pilgrims will proceed to Muzdalifa where they will offer the Maghreb and Isha prayers together and rest at night.
In Muzdalifa, they will collect pebbles to stone the Satan in Mina. They will come back to Mina early Monday to complete their Hajj rituals, including sacrifice of animals, shaving their hair, getting out of the state of Ihram and going to Makkah for Tawaf Al-Ifadah, which is an important pillar of Hajj rites.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of the holy faith of Islam that every able-bodied and financially-able Muslim is obliged to undertake during lifetime.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque, led the multitude of pilgrims gathered in Arafat, in prayers after delivering the Haj sermon.
Delivering the wide-ranging sermon, Al-Sudais called on Muslim leaders to work together to solve the many issues that are confronting the Ummah.
The imam said "terrorism doesn't belong to any religion or nation." He also asked pilgrims to "avoid politics" during the Hajj.
Al-Sudais gave the sermon this year instead of the Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al-Ashiekh after he opted out due to health reasons, reportedly after 35 years. Al-Ashiekh sat on a chair as he listened to Al-Sudais encourage pilgrims to benefit from their time at Arafat and the rest of their Hajj.
He urged the unity of the Muslims and warned about deviant ideologies reminding parents, teachers and scholars the responsibilities they have in nurturing the young away from "deceptive" messages.
Makkah Gov. Prince Kahlid Al-Faisal sat with worshipers as he listened to the sermon in which Al-Sudais thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the organizers of the Hajj for their efforts in making the holy pilgrimage easy for the pilgrims.
Al-Sudais also asked those in the media to show responsible reporting by avoiding "sensationalism and rumours" and using their efforts to aid unity.
Imam-e-Kaaba urged Muslims around the globe to come together to follow the message of peace given by Islam and shun violence unequivocally. He realized that Muslim Ummah is facing difficult times currently which can be improved only through unity among the followers of Islam. He said that gathering of Muslims for Hajj also symbolized a message of unity which needs to be followed.
In his address, he asked the followers of Islam to follow the teachings of Quran and the Sunnah of Holy Prophet (SAW) in its entirety. (AGENCIES)