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Islam preaches respectful behaviour, good character: Hajj sermon

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 20, 2018.REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra?? - RC1A2BD02AF0

Jeddah, Aug 20: The Hajj sermon delivered at Mount Arafat on Monday emphasised respectful behaviour and good character as the most important lessons of Islam.

More than two million Muslims from around the world scaled the rocky hill southeast of the holy city of Makkah to perform the pinnacle of Hajj. Mount Arafat is where Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) delivered his final sermon.

The imam of Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque, Sheikh Hussein bin Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, delivered the sermon earlier on Monday.

“All prophets of God invited humanity to tauheed, and believing in it will be path of success,” he said. “Give respect and importance to your parents and teachers. Strengthen your relation with the Holy Quran,” he said. Islam forbids us from indulging in sins. It propagates harmony and brotherhood amongst Muslims.”

Muslims gather for prayers at Namirah mosque near Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahmah (Mount of Mercy), August 20, 2018. Photo: AFP

The pilgrims will perform Zuhr and Asr prayers combined, and spend time in Arafat with prayers for acceptance of their pilgrimage and recitation of Quranic verses until sunset.

After sunset, the pilgrims will head to Muzdalifah, where they will stay until midnight, engaged in prayers after performing Maghreb and Isha prayers combined.

Muslims gather on Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of the Saudi holy city of Makkah, on Arafat Day, August 20, 2018. Photo: AFP

The ritual of changing Ghilaf-e-Kaaba was also held early Monday morning.

The new Ghilaf was prepared at a cost of 200,000 Riyal. It comprises 670kg pure silk, 120kg gold and 100kg silver.

Imam Masjid-ul-Haram Dr Abd ur Rahman Assudais and Governor Makkah Khalid Faisal participated in the ritual.

Every Muslim is required to complete the Hajj journey to Islam’s holiest sites at least once in their lifetime if they are healthy enough and have the means to do so.

Tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage, which was struck by its worst-ever disaster three years ago when around 2,300 worshippers were crushed to death in a stampede.

This year, the Saudis have launched a “smart Hajj” initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.

The interior ministry said on Saturday that the number of pilgrims arriving in Makkah had already surpassed the two million mark, mostly from abroad including large contingents from Egypt, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Muslims believe that the Day of Arafat is when one’s sins can be forgiven. It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad said the day: “Expiates the sins of the previous year and that of the following year.”

It is also narrated that Prophet Muhammad said: “There is no day on which Allah frees people from the Fire more so than on the Day of Arafat,” in reference to the fires of Hell.

Muslims who are not performing Hajj observe the day by fasting from dusk till dawn.

Saudi authorities announced their optimum preparations for Hajj this year to ensure safety and create comfortable conditions for pilgrims to perform rituals.

After standing on Arafat, pilgrims head to the site of Muzdalifa to spend the night, as per Hajj obligations.

Muzadlifda is the area for performing Jamarat, the symbolic stoning of the devil.

Muslims believe prayer on this day at Mount Arafat, about 20km east of the holy city of Mecca, is their best chance to erase past sins and start anew.

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 20, 2018. 

Around sunset, pilgrims will head to an area called Muzdalifa, which is 9km west of Arafat. Many walk, while others use buses. They spend the night there and pick up pebbles along the way that will be used in a symbolic stoning of the devil back in the city of Mina, where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk Ibrahim out of submitting to God’s will.

The kingdom has spent billions of dollars of its vast oil revenues on security and safety measures, particularly in Mina, where some of the hajj’s deadliest incidents have occurred.

The five-day hajj pilgrimage represents one of the world’s biggest gatherings every year, and is required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life.

At the hajj’s end, male pilgrims will shave their hair and women will cut a lock of hair in a sign of renewal for completing the pilgrimage. Around the world, Muslims will mark the end of hajj with a celebration called Eid al-Adha. The holiday, remembering Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, sees Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distributing the meat to the poor.

Overnight, a sandstorm packing strong winds and thunderstorms roared through Mecca. Officials say the severe weather slightly damaged some tents housing pilgrims, but caused no injuries. They said further severe weather was possible through on Monday.