MAKKAH: Chanting ‘Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik’, masked pilgrims entered Maidan-e-Arafat on Thursday to supplicate for the atonement of their sins and hoping for acceptance of their pilgrimage.
The global coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow on every aspect of this year’s pilgrimage, which last year drew 2.5 million Muslims from across the world to Mount Arafat where Prophet Muhammad (SAW) delivered his final sermon.
They listened to the sermon delivered by Sheikh Abdullah bin Salman Al Mannieh from Masjid-e-Nimra. The Imam urged Muslims to observe Taqwa saying observing Taqwa was the injunction that Allah gave to all former and later generations.
Sheikh Abdullah said the difficulties and hardships of life was actually a test forhuman beings. “For every hardship, there is happiness afterward from Allah,” he said. He said Allah instructed harmony and cooperation among the fellow beings and forbade immortality and sins.
“Islam’s teaching prohibits transgression from others,” he said, adding that Islam warned against extravagance. He said Allah permitted trade and forbade usury and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also exhorted the Muslims to follow the path of Allah and Quran.
He said corona pandemic was a test from Allah Almighty for the sins and wrongdoing and the humanity could atone for all the wrong actions through prayers and supplication.
He said all Muslims round the world should follow precautionary measures to check the spread of epidemic. He said Holy Prophet (SAW) had prohibited his followers from visiting places where an epidemic existed.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Salman prayed to Allah Almighty to protect the humanity from the COVID-19 pandemic and other calamities. A tight security cordon has been erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Makkah, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, for the high point of the annual ritual.
Pilgrims, donning masks and observing social distancing as Saudi authorities enforce tough restrictions to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, embarked on the climb to the summit for the Holy Quran recitals and prayers to atone for their sins, state television showed.
Sprayed with water sprinklers to beat the desert heat, the pilgrims raised their palms skywards as they climbed the slopes of the hill where Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave his last sermon.
The scene was strikingly different to last year´s ritual when a sea of pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat, marshaled by tens of thousands of stewards in a bid to prevent any crushes.
Pilgrims were earlier ferried in buses from neighbouring Mina and underwent temperature checks before attending a sermon in the local Namira mosque, which state media said was translated into 10 languages.
After sunset prayers, they will make their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, another holy site where they will sleep under the stars to prepare for the final stage of hajj, the symbolic "stoning of the devil".
It takes place on Friday and also marks the beginning of Eidul Azha. "You are not our guests but those of God, the custodian of the two holy mosques (Saudi Arabia´s King Salman) and the nation," Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten said in a video released by the media ministry on Wednesday.
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