|Hajj pilgrims to perform Wuquf Arafat today|
15 November 2010
MAKKAH: The Hajj pilgrims will perform today the most vital pillar of Hajj, i.e. Wuquf-e-Arafat (Stay at Mount Arafat), Geo News reported Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of people are on a journey from Makkah to Mount Arafat through the valleys of Mina and Muzdalifa to start Hajj rites.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in the lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.
The world’s largest annual pilgrimage, the Hajj, began on Sunday with hundreds of thousands of Muslims pouring into the camp of Mina from Makkah to prepare for the rituals.
The pilgrims are estimated to total up to 2.5 million this year, a major headache for the Saudi authorities that have yet to report any major incidents since the faithful descended on the holy city. Many took buses, but some had already set off on foot overnight as they headed to the vast plain of Mina, a small village about five kilometres east of Makkah that comes to life for just five days a 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 Gulf 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 $2,667 for each individual. Vehicles with a capacity below 25 passengers have also been banned from entering Hajj sites to streamline the flow of buses transporting pilgrims.
The passage to Mina marks the official launch of the Hajj on the eighth day of the Muslim calendar month of Zulhajj.
The day is known as Tarwiyah as pilgrims in the past stopped at Mina to water their animals and stock up for the following day’s trip to Mount Arafat.
At Mount Arafat, around 10 kilometres southeast of Mina, the pilgrims spend the day in prayer and reflection.
After sunset, they move on to Muzdalifah, halfway between Mount Arafat and Mina, where they spend the night.
On Tuesday, the first day of Eidul Azha, the pilgrims’ head back to Mina after the Fajar prayers.
They then perform the first stage of the symbolic ‘stoning of the devil’ and make the ritual sacrifice of an animal, usually a lamb.
No major incidents have been reported this year since the pilgrims began gathering in Makkah.
The city’s Grand Mosque has been flooded with the faithful, with an estimated 1.7 million taking part in the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.
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