An estimated two
million pilgrims including more than 1.5 million from abroad will
assemble in Mina, a tent city some 12 kilometers east of Makkah, today
on the first day of the holy pilgrimage.
Allahumma Labbaik (O Lord, here I am answering Your call), thousands
of pilgrims yesterday made their way to Mina to spend the Yaum
Al-Tarwiya, following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be
The Grand Mosque in
Makkah was overflowing with the faithful yesterday as about two
million Muslims thronged Islam’s holiest shrine to attend the Friday
prayers and perform Umrah on the eve of Haj. Men and women of all
ages, races, color and background thronged the Haram Mosque at noon to
listen to an emotional speech by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the
imam and khateeb of the mosque, who appealed for support to the
Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israeli occupation. “In the
name of all pilgrims, we appeal to decision-makers of the world to end
the bloodletting in Muslim Palestine and support the blessed
intifada,” he said. Holding back tears, he said he hoped the day
would come soon when Islam’s third holiest shrine, Al-Aqsa Mosque in
Jerusalem, would be freed from “the hands of the Zionist gang”.
pilgrims to refrain from any activity that would mar the sanctity of
Haj, and called on Muslims to unite under the banner of Islam. “The
Muslim nation witnessing these blessed days should work earnestly to
solve the crises facing them. Isn’t it time that we learned the
lessons of Haj in unity?” he said. Worshipers crowded the mosque,
its vicinity and the roads leading to it, and lined up in rows around
the Holy Ka’aba.
A number of Muslim
leaders including Pakistan’s Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf,
Indonesia’s President Abdurrahman Wahid and Bangladesh Prime
Minister Hasina Wajed are taking part in this year’s Haj, the
largest annual congregation of Muslims.
spiritual experience that takes us away from the rush-hour traffic to
a life of meditation, prayer and supplication,” said one member of
the delegation of American Muslims.
“It is great to
be among so many brothers and sisters from all over the world,” said
Jamal, a Nigerian, as he placed his prayer mat on a road 200 meters
from the mosque.
who have the daunting task of ensuring the safety of the guests of
God, are working hard for a trouble-free Haj for the third year in a
row. A blaze in 1997 killed 343 pilgrims, and in 1998 up to 119 people
died in a stampede. Saudi Arabia has spent nearly $200 million over
the past year alone as part of a long-term plan to improve safety. It
has installed more fireproof tents and firefighting equipment. More
than 10,000 medical personnel have been deployed in hospitals and
clinics in and around Makkah.
Source: Arab News