Muslim pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat for hajj's pinnacle

Pauline Gross
August 22, 2018

This year, the annual pilgrimage has become increasingly hi-tech with apps to help the faithful navigate Islam's holiest sites.

Saudi Gazette Makkah bureau chief on Monday boarded a S92 aircraft of the security aviation, which flew at 2,000 feet above sea level, and monitored the stand of over two million pilgrims in Arafat.

Some pilgrims carried bright umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun as temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) after an evening of thunderstorms and high winds.

Muslims traditionally slaughter sheep for the three-day Eid al-Adha, a tribute to the prophet Abraham's sacrifice of a lamb after God spared Ishmael, his son.

A new kiswa, the cloth embroidered with verses from the Koran, was placed over the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque late on Sunday.

"We will prevent any actions that are not part of the hajj ritual and any act that may impact the safety of pilgrims or their ability to perform the rite", Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Turki told Reuters. "I also want to pray for all Muslim countries, for them to live free in all places, in Palestine and in Burma, in all places, in Afghanistan and in India".

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At sunset, they will descend the mountain and head back to Muzdalifah, the halfway point between Arafat and Mina.

Mohammad Neem, a Pakistani pilgrim, said he couldn't find the words to describe his feelings.

Although the kingdom's young de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has spearheaded change in the kingdom, religion remains a key force in Saudi Arabia. But the kingdom has also tightened its grip on dissent, with around a dozen women's rights campaigners arrested in recent weeks.

But this pod is in Saudi Arabia, where the Muslim hajj pilgrimage begins Sunday.

Saudi Arabia - the world's largest exporter of oil - and its allies accuse Qatar of cosying up to both Sunni Islamist extremists and Shiite Iran, Riyadh's main rival.

Modibbo disclosed that the return flight for Nigerian pilgrims was expected to start anytime from August 27 when the Saudi Arabian Airports would be opened.

Other reports by GizPress

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