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Hajj pilgrims in Mina ahead of big day at Arafat

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrived in Mina early Thursday morning for Tarwiyah. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrived in Mina early Thursday morning for Tarwiyah. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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08 Jul 2022 12:07:51 GMT9
08 Jul 2022 12:07:51 GMT9
  • With the sunrise on Friday, they will move to Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon over 1,400 years ago

Mohammed Al-Kinani

MINA: Up to a million Muslim worshippers traveled on Thursday from the Grand Mosque in Makkah to a vast encampment in the Mina Valley as the Hajj pilgrimage neared its high point.

The pilgrims walked or took buses the 7 km to Mina, where they spent the night in air-conditioned white tents.

“I feel great. This is all to be closer to God,” said Khaled bin Jomaa, 44, from Tunisia, who made the journey on foot carrying an umbrella and a prayer mat.

The worshippers are preparing for the highlight of the Hajj on Friday — ascending Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon.

Pilgrims will pray and recite the Qur’an for several hours at the mountain, and sleep near by.

On Saturday, they will gather pebbles and perform the symbolic “stoning of the devil.”

All worshippers are fully vaccinated and submitted negative PCR tests, but health chiefs are taking no chances.

At Mina, the pilgrims were handed small bags containing masks and sanitizer, and ambulances were parked at the camp’s entrances.

The summer heat is also a challenge, with temperatures of 42°C. “We have taken all precautions. We have doctors here ready to intervene in case needed,” said Ahmad Al-Zinani, a camp manager.

Among the pilgrims is star Test cricketer Adil Rashid, the England bowler. “It’s a big thing for my faith and for myself,” he said. “I knew that I needed to do it while I’m young, strong, and healthy.”

Another pilgrim is the Indian former actress and model Sana Khan, 33, who gave up the entertainment business in 2020 to devote her life to Islam.

Khan was in Mina on Thursday with her husband, Muslim scholar Anas Saiyad.

“Can’t wait to experience the most beautiful journey of my life,” she said. “I don’t have words to express my feelings. May the almighty Allah accept our Hajj and make it easy.”

For the first time, many women from overseas are taking part in the Hajj unaccompanied after Saudi authorities last year removed the requirement for a male guardian.

Making the pilgrimage “gave me confidence … it empowered me and made me stronger,” said Suhail Mohammed, a mother of three from Egypt. She advised other women: “Come and don’t be scared.”

Faten Abdel Moneim, 65, from Egypt, said: “For those who are able to, don’t lose the opportunity. This is a spiritual joy that cannot be described. You are in the house of God, what more could you ask for?”

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