MACCA MUKARMA, July 30: The difficulties of life are a test from Allah. It is only through worship that people can ward off afflictions. problems came upon people due to Allah’s Will as he was the Creator of everything said Sheikh Abdullah bin Sulaiman.
Delivering the Hajj sermon from Masjid-e-Nimra, Sheikh Abdullah bin Sulaiman thanked Allah for the various blessings He had bestowed on mankind. “Piety ensures man stays away from evil,” eh said. “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.” He added that sacrifice and worship was only for Allah, laying emphasis on the obligatory or farz acts on Muslims.
He paid tribute to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), saying that he had spent his entire life for the welfare of mankind. Sheikh Suleman said that those who remained steadfast on the right path, with patience, will receive glad tidings at the end.
Masked pilgrims arrived on Thursday at Mount Arafat, a desert hill near the Holy Kaaba, to pray and repent on the most important day of the Haj, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
The global coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over every aspect of this year’s pilgrimage, which last year drew 2.5 million Muslims from across the world to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered his final sermon nearly 1,400 years ago.
This year, a very limited number of pilgrims were allowed to take part in the Haj amid numerous restrictions to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus. The Saudi government has not released a final figure on the number of the pilgrims this year, but has said anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 would be taking part. All of this year’s pilgrims are either residents or citizens of Saudi Arabia.
In past years, a sea of pilgrims dressed in white terrycloth garments would start to gather at Mount Arafat, or hill of mercy as it’s known, before dawn and remain there until nightfall, spending the day in deep contemplation and worship. It is common to see pilgrims with tears streaming down their faces, their hands raised in worship on the slopes of the rocky hill where the Prophet Muhammad called for equality and unity among Muslims.
The sliver of pilgrims performing the Haj this year arrived at Mount Arafat before noon by bus on Thursday. They are traveling in small groups of 20, following strict guidelines around social distancing, have undergone tests for the Covid-19 disease and were in quarantine before the Haj.
Unlike in past years, the pilgrims are not allowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with other Muslims from around the world, all considered equal in Islam before God, seeking mercy, blessings, good health, bounty and healing. Pilgrims are wearing wristbands this year provided by the Saudi Health Ministry that are connected to their phones and monitor their movements to ensure physical distancing.
After spending the day in prayer on Mount Arafat, pilgrims will head toward an area called Muzdalifa, about 5.5 miles west of Mount Arafat.
In Muzdalifa, pilgrims rest and traditionally pick up pebbles that will be used for a symbolic stoning of the devil and casting away of evil. This year, however, the pebbles have been prepackaged and sterilised.
The final ritual takes place over three to four days in Mina, about 12 miles east of Makkah. The final days of Haj coincide with Eidul Azha, or the festival of sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
On the ninth of the Zul Hijjah month, pilgrims arrived at the plains of the Mount Arafat on Thursday, as the Saudi Health Ministry will make special arrangements for the “downsized” Hajj amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
General clinics at Arafat have been installed which will have doctors, consultants and intensive care nurses to help pilgrims. The health provisions will also deal with any pilgrim suffering from a heat stroke or stress.
A camp has been prepared by the government in Arafat to isolate any COVID-19 patient among the pilgrims for medical treatment. On the other hand, the Saudi Civil Defence forces will be ready to provide security to the pilgrims as they make their way to the holy place.
“All parties involved are carrying out their tasks to handle any risks according to the general plan for the Haj pilgrimage,” said The commander of the Civil Defense for Hajj, Maj. Gen. Hamoud Al Faraj.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that the Kiswa of the Kaabah was replaced Wednesday night and in accordance with tradition, the process was administered by the staff of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
In a statement, the deputy head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said that the Kaabah had been cloaked with a new Kiswa which comprised of four sides and a sitar (curtain) for the door.
“The process began from the side of the Hateem (a semi-circular wall opposite the northwest wall of the Kaaba), because Al-Mizab (a rainwater spout made of gold) requires a special opening at the top. After consolidating all the sides, the corners were fixed by sewing them from the top of the cloth to the bottom,” he said.
As many as 200 Saudi craftsmen are engaged in producing the black curtain at the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa, Al-Mansouri said.