Muslims come from all over the world to participate in the climbing of Mount Arafat.

Thousands of pilgrims climbed Mount Arafat on August 20 to pray to Allah and repent to him. The Saudi Arabian mountain hosts the culmination of the annual Hajj. The event witnessed over two million Muslims hailing from all parts of the globe to converge in Saudi Arabia. For pilgrims, the start of their journey was not an auspicious one. Rain and heavy winds had lashed Mecca, Islam's holiest city. People shouted and screamed as tent-poles were blown away by heavy winds. The skies fortunately cleared surrendering to the well-known uncomfortable dry heat of the region. Worshipers carried colored umbrellas to cover themselves from the blazing sun as they ascended the rocky hill located to the southeast of Mecca.

Those who made it to the top listened to a sermon by Sheikh Hussein bin Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh who gave a detailed description of multiple prophets sent by God, starting with Abraham, who did not hesitate to sacrifice his own son when asked by God. Unlike the previous years, the speech was almost apolitical, with the content only exhorting Muslims to remain faithful to what Islam taught them. If this is done, the Sheikh said, the people will be a better version of themselves.

The pilgrims raised their arms, and chanted “Allahu Akbar” along with “There is no God but Allah.” The chanting is done by all, young, old and those ill-of-health. Many pilgrims pushed their elderly relatives sitting in wheelchairs. Post sunset, they will walk down the slopes of Mount Ararat to yet another holy site of Muzdalifah, where they will sleep the night away under the stars. The pilgrims will prepare for Hajj's final stage, a symbolic ritual commonly known as “stoning of the devil.”

Saudi authorities have made all the necessary arrangements for the smooth functioning of the pilgrimage process. Workers have already cleaned the readied the iconic Kaaba, located at the Grand Mosque center in Mecca. The gold and black silk covering of the Kaaba are replaced once every year, and a changeover is an event by itself. The Governor of Mecca, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, was the titular head of this ceremony. As per Saudi media reports, the new covering consisted of gold of total weight 120 kilograms, silver weighing 100 kilograms, and silk weighing a total of 670 kilograms. There were about 10,000 security personnel on site to protect the various pilgrimage sites.


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