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Wednesday July 17, 2024

Hajj sermon: Muslims urged to forge unity to avert discords, divisions

Over 1.5 million Muslims ascend rocky Arafat hill where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his last sermon

By Web Desk
June 15, 2024
Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly, an imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, delivers the Hajj sermon at Masjid-e-Nimrah on June 15, 2024. — X/@insharifain
Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly, an imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, delivers the Hajj sermon at Masjid-e-Nimrah on June 15, 2024. — X/@insharifain

Delivering Hajj sermon at Masjid-e-Nimrah in Maidan-e-Arafat, Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly urged Muslims to forge unity and create helping spirit, saying it would lead to salvation of the Ummah in addition to averting any discords or divisions.

He said Muslims should exhibit best of the manners as only those who will have good manners will be close to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the day of judgement.

The imam said Allah has ordered Muslims to keep praying and paying zakat to the needy people.

He also prayed for Palestinians suffering at the hands of Israeli brutality for the last eight months.

"Pray for our brothers in Palestine who have been under brutal oppression and denied liberty and provisions," the imam said.

In the sermon, the imam urged pilgrims to pray to Allah for themselves, for their parents, and those related to them.

"Whoever supplicates for his brother in the back of the unseen, the angel entrusted to him will say to him, Ameen, and the same for you."

The Saudi imam emphasised the significance of the Sharia in leading one's way of life to help flourish and achieve development.

"It prevents harming others or harming them. It enjoins justice, virtuous morals, honouring one’s parents, maintaining ties of kinship, telling the truth, preserving rights while delivering them to their rightful owners, performing trusts, and fulfilling contracts," he said.

The sermon came after more than 1.5 Muslims reached Mount Arafat today for the high point of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, praying for hours, especially for Palestinians in war-ravaged Gaza.

Clad in white, worshippers began arriving at dawn for the most gruelling day of the annual rites, ascending the rocky, 70-metre (230-foot) hill where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his last sermon.

"This is the most important day," said 46-year-old Egyptian Mohammed Asser, who came prepared with a list of prayers. "I pray also for the Palestinians. May God help them."

This year's Hajj is unfolding in the shadow of the genocide unfolding in Gaza. Saudi Arabia's minister in charge of religious pilgrimages, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, warned last week that "no political activity" would be tolerated during the Hajj.

'Scary' heat

The Hajj, one of the world's biggest religious gatherings, is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study published last month that said regional temperatures were rising 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade.

The rituals, which take at least five days to complete and are mostly outdoors, are "not easy because it is very hot", said Abraman Hawa, 26, from Ghana.

"We have sun... but it is not as hot. But I will pray to Allah at Arafat, because I need his support," she added.

The temperature was expected to hit 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday, creating challenges for pilgrims who arrived at Mount Arafat after spending the night in a giant tented city in Mina, a valley outside Makkah.

Saudi authorities have urged pilgrims to drink plenty of water and protect themselves from the sun. Since men are prohibited from wearing hats, many carry umbrellas.

More than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, 10% of them heat stroke, a Saudi official told AFP this week.

'Once in a lifetime'

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must perform it at least once.

Yet visas, doled out to individual countries on a quota system, can be difficult to obtain.

"It's a chance that only comes once in a lifetime, I couldn't not come," said Abdulrahman Siyam, a 55-year-old Iraqi pilgrim who was performing the rituals on a prosthetic leg.

After Mount Arafat, the pilgrims will head to Muzdalifah, where they will collect pebbles to carry out the symbolic "stoning of the devil" ritual in Mina on Sunday.

It is also a major financial windfall for the kingdom, which is trying to develop religious tourism as part of a drive to reduce its dependence on crude oil.

The kingdom received more than 1.8 million pilgrims last year for the Hajj, around 90% of whom came from abroad.

It also welcomed 13.5 million Muslims who came to perform Umrah, the pilgrimage which can be done year-round, and aims to reach 30 million pilgrims in total by 2030.