The pilgrims met this Monday the main annual pilgrimage ritual or “hach”, with the climb to Mount Arafat, in eastern Mecca, amid restrictions and control measures that limited their number and free movement due to Covid-19 for another year.
To the 60,000 faithful elected this year by the Saudi Government, all vaccinated and resident in the kingdom, they have been prohibited from traveling on their own to the Arafat area and were transferred in small groups on buses to avoid crowds and the risk of contagion.
Dressed in the “ihram”, that for men are two pieces of seamless white cloth and for women a long robe, the faithful performed the first ritual yesterday in the neighboring valley of Mina, where, according to Islam, Abraham came to fulfill the divine order to sacrifice his son Ishmael, before Allah sent him a ram.
The ritual on Mount Arafat, called Al “Waqfa” (stay) is for the believers the climax of the pilgrimage, because it was in that place where the prophet Muhammad He delivered his last sermon in AD 632, during which he announced the end of his mission after broadcasting the teachings of islam.
Muslims also believe that it was in the Arafat area where Adam and Eve met and met on earth, and is where the pilgrims atone for their sins today in a setting that symbolizes the doomsday.
In Islamic tradition, the mountain and the plain that surround it have several names, among thems “Yabal Al Tauba” (Mount of repentance), Al Rahma (mercy) and “Arafa” or knowledge.
Hence the importance of this day for both pilgrims and the rest of the Muslims of the world, who mark this day as a holiday and many participate virtually in “Al Waqfa” through television screens.
Second year during the pandemic
Following tradition, the imam of the Great Mosque of Mecca, Bandar Belila, delivered Arafat’s sermon today, in which he praised Riyadh’s decision to limit the number of pilgrims to 60,000 this year, and to a few thousand last year, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in this massive religious event.
“Those who have been good to Muslims include the custodian of the two mosques (King Salman bin Abdelaziz) and His Highness Crown Prince (Mohamed bin Salman), who take care of the pilgrims and strive so that hajj is not an event for the spread of the disease, “said Belila.
He also called on Muslims to move away from extremism and corruption., “contrary to the principles of goodness of Islam”, as well as to “treat the workers well, compliance with what is stipulated in their contracts”, in apparent allusion to the millions of expatriates, especially Asians, who reside in the kingdom and who are often exposed to abuse.
In previous years, the annual pilgrimage brought together more than two million faithful from all over the world, although on occasion those of some countries that suffered from epidemics or contagious diseases, such as Ebola, were banned.
The director of the Department of Pilgrimage of the Ministry of Health, Sary Asiri, reaffirmed today that no case of Covid-19 has been registered among the pilgrims, and that the medical teams that accompany the faithful “are prepared for any emergency.”
After sunset, the faithful will move from Mount Arafat to the neighboring town of Muzdalifa, where they sleep and gather pebbles to return to Mina tomorrow Tuesday for the third day of the pilgrimage, in which they will stone three columns that symbolize the temptations of the devil.
Tomorrow at dawn, Muslims around the world they will start slaughtering lambs to remember how Abraham was willing to offer his first-born son to God, who according to Islam is Ishmael and not Isaac.