Almost 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims scale Mount Arafat

Almost 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims scale Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia as tens of thousands of stewards aim to prevent repeat of deadly stampede that killed 2,300 worshippers in 2015

  • Nearly 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on Saturday
  • They were marshalled by tens of thousands of stewards to prevent repetition of previous years’ stampedes 
  • Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the deadliest stampede
  • Hajj is one of 5 pillars of Islam which every Muslim must complete at least once, if they are healthy enough 
  • Five-day journey is meant to be equaliser and unifier among Muslims, as they shed outward signs of wealth

Nearly 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia Saturday were marshalled by tens of thousands of stewards in a bid to prevent any repetition of previous years’ deadly stampedes.

Movable crowd control barriers were erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Mecca, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, where the faithful arrived on foot and in a seemingly endless line of buses. 

The five-day journey is meant to be a great equaliser and unifier among Muslims, with pilgrims shedding overt displays of wealth and materialism. 

It takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet Muhammad 1,400 years ago. 

Male pilgrims wear simple terry cloth white garments and women don conservative dress and headscarves, forgoing make-up, nail polish and perfume, in an effort to draw closer to God. 

Nearly 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat close to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, August 10

Nearly 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims were marshalled by tens of thousands of stewards in a bid to prevent any repetition of previous years’ deadly stampedes

Movable crowd control barriers were erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Mecca, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, where the faithful arrived on foot and in a seemingly endless line of buses

Male pilgrims wear simple terry cloth white garments and women don conservative dress and headscarves, forgoing make-up, nail polish and perfume, in an effort to draw closer to God

Muslim pilgrims brave the rain during the Hajj pilgrimage near the Mount Arafat, close to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims hold upturned umbrellas as rain falls during the Hajj pilgrimage near the Mount Arafat on August 10

Muslim pilgrims hold umbrellas as rain falls during the Hajj pilgrimage near the Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on August 10

Raising their palms skywards, the pilgrims set off on the climb to the summit where they held prayers to atone for their sins in a ritual that is regarded as the high point of the annual hajj. 

‘Really, I am very satisfied,’ said Lassina Coulibaly, a 47-year-old Malian business employee.

‘Fatigue is part of the pilgrimage,’ added the father of seven.

Clutching brightly coloured umbrellas, pilgrims first braved the blazing sun and then heavy downpours that many welcomed as a blessing.

Muslim pilgrims brave the rain during the Hajj pilgrimage near the Mount Arafat, close to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims hold umbrellas as rain falls during the Hajj pilgrimage near the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10 

A Saudi soldier sprinkles water on pilgrims to cool them off as they walk to pray at the Mount Arafat near Mecca on August 10

A Saudi soldier sprinkles water on pilgrims to cool them off as they walk to pray at the Mount Arafat near Mecca on August 10

Clutching brightly coloured umbrellas, pilgrims first braved the blazing sun and then heavy downpours that many welcomed as a blessing

Muslim pilgrim walk in the rain near Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, as the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage approaches on August 10

Saudi soldiers drive a motorcycle as rain falls during the Hajj pilgrimage close to Mecca on August 10 

A Muslin pilgrim covers his head from the rain near Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma, southeast of Mecca, on August 10

Some burst into tears as they chanted prayers.

Thousands of faithful had spent the night under the stars, sleeping on prayer rugs or pieces of cardboard.

Trucks were parked at regular intervals on the route leading up to the hill, distributing bottles of water and meals.

Muslim pilgrims rest during the Hajj pilgrimage on the Mount Arafat on August 10. Thousands of faithful had spend the night under the stars, sleeping on prayer rugs or pieces of cardboard

Muslim pilgrims buy copies of the Koran during the Hajj pilgrimage on August 10. According to Saudi authorities, 2.5 million Muslims are expected to attend this year’s pilgrimage

Muslim pilgrims take a selfie during the Hajj pilgrimage on August 10. The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam which every Muslim is required to complete at least once in their lifetime

Thousands of workers prepared to clear the rubbish that littered the ground.

Helicopters criss-crossed overhead, part of the tight security precautions taken by the pilgrimage’s Saudi hosts.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam which every Muslim is required to complete at least once in their lifetime if they are healthy enough and have the means to do so.

Saudi King Salman invited as his guests this year 200 survivors and relatives of victims of a shooting spree in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a gunman opened fire and killed 51 people in two mosques. 

Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Arafat as they take part in one of the Hajj rituals on August 10. Arafat is the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage 

Muslim Hajj pilgrims pray in the Mount Arafat on August 10. Helicopters criss-crossed overhead, part of the tight security precautions taken by the pilgrimage’s Saudi hosts

Muslim Hajj pilgrims pray in the Mount Arafat on August 10. Pilgrims travelling from abroad account for 1.86 million of the 2.48 million taking part in this year’s hajj, according to official figures

Muslim Hajj pilgrims pray in the Mount Arafat on August 10. The women wear loose dresses, most of them white, exposing only their faces and hands

‘I came last year during Ramadan, now I am there for the hajj,’ said Indonesian pilgrim Zakir Uddin.

‘It is an honour, praise be to God,’ added the 27-year-old cook.

Like other male pilgrims, he wears a seamless white garment that covers only one shoulder and emphasises unity regardless of social status or nationality.

The women wear loose dresses, most of them white, exposing only their faces and hands.


Muslim Hajj pilgrims pray in the Mount Arafat during the pilgrimage on August 10. The women wear loose dresses, most of them white, exposing only their faces and hands

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

They are designed to help pilgrims enter a state of purity, called ihram.

Uddin, who works in the Saudi city of Jeddah less than 90 kilometres (55 miles) from Mecca, says he is happy to see so many of his compatriots among the pilgrims.

‘Indonesians make up the single largest contingent, such is the will of God,’ he said.

Pilgrims travelling from abroad account for 1.86 million of the 2.48 million taking part in this year’s hajj, according to official figures 

After sunset prayers, pilgrims will make their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, another holy site where they will sleep under the stars to prepare for the final stage of hajj, a ritual ‘stoning of the devil’ 

The scale of the pilgrimage presents vast security and logistical challenges, with tens of thousands of safety officers deployed 

Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the deadliest stampede in the gathering’s histor 

Pilgrims travelling from abroad account for 1.86 million of the 2.48 million taking part in this year’s hajj, according to official figures.

After sunset prayers, pilgrims will make their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, another holy site where they will sleep under the stars to prepare for the final stage of hajj, a ritual ‘stoning of the devil’.

That marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, marked on Sunday.

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

Sheep are traditionally slaughtered for the three-day event, a tribute to the prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of a lamb after God spared Ishmael, his son.

Pilgrims then return to the Grand Mosque to perform a final ‘tawaf’ or walk around the Kaaba.

The scale of the pilgrimage presents vast security and logistical challenges, with tens of thousands of safety officers deployed.

Muslim pilgrims pray in front of a pillar, where Islam’s Prophet Muhammed is believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of followers, on a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage on Saturday, August 10 

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca 

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca

Muslim pilgrims pray during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Mount Arafat close to Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 10

This year’s hajj takes place to a backdrop of Gulf tensions following a series of attacks on tankers, the downing of drones and the seizure of ships 

Riyadh blames regional foe Tehran for the attacks on commercial shipping, accusations Iran vehemently denies 

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, some 88,550 Iranian pilgrims are due to take part in the hajj this year according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency 

Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the deadliest stampede in the gathering’s history.

This year’s hajj takes place to a backdrop of Gulf tensions following a series of attacks on tankers, the downing of drones and the seizure of ships.

Riyadh blames regional foe Tehran for the attacks on commercial shipping, accusations Iran vehemently denies.

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, some 88,550 Iranian pilgrims are due to take part in the hajj this year according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

As in previous years, Saudi authorities have been at pains to stress that the hajj is a religious event and have sought to prevent its politicisation. 

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca on August 10

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca on August 10

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca on August 10

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca on August 10

 

 

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