Hajj pilgrims to begin journey of faith

MECCA: Hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world, including over 1.5 lakh Indians, will begin Haj tomorrow when they assemble in the valley of Mina as Saudi authorities said preparations have been completed for the world’s largest annual gathering.
Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, here I am answering your call), hundreds of thousands of white-clad Muslims will stream towards Mina on the first leg of the annual pilgrimage.
In the first phase, the pilgrims will spend the night in the tent-city of Mina reciting the Holy Quran or praying.
On Wednesday, pilgrims will move to Mount Arafat where they stand in contemplative vigil, offer supplications, repent and atone for their past sins, seek mercy of God and listen to a sermon.
After offering prayers at Mount Arafat, pilgrims will travel to nearby Muzdalifa to collect stones for the ritual in Mina Valley, an event which has been marred in the past by stampedes.
The next day the pilgrims return to Mina and perform the symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at the three pillars.
After the stoning, the pilgrims will perform the ritual of animal sacrifice to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ismail, to God.
The stoning ritual is meant to mirror Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil when he appeared to try to dissuade the Prophet from obeying God’s order to sacrifice Ismail.
Saudi authorities have made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims in Mina, where thousands of tents have been set up to host the ‘guests of Allah’.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is also Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has directed agencies concerned to provide all services and facilities so that pilgrims perform their rituals with ease and comfort. (AGENCIES)

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