MINA: Muslims should praise the Almighty and become ambassadors for Islam by always following its precepts on good behaviour, said Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League and member of the Council of Senior Scholars, during the Arafat Day sermon delivered at Namirah Mosque on Friday.
Addressing the pilgrims and Muslims around the world, he said good deeds would guarantee happiness in this life and ensure Allah’s rewards in the hereafter.
Al-Issa reminded Muslims that the main injunction of Islam was to only worship Allah.
“Allah has sent down the divine books and sent prophets and messengers as teachers to their nations, calling (them) to monotheism and singling out Allah in worship. All the prophets told their people to worship Allah, and no one else,” he said in his sermon.
Al-Issa, who delivered the Arafat sermon for the first time, emphasized the importance of Islam’s five pillars of faith.
Addressing the pilgrims, he said Allah has honoured them with the opportunity to perform Hajj this year, and urged them to follow the guidance of Prophet Mohammed when completing their rituals.
He also urged Muslims to continue to carry out good deeds and treat others well, including those of other beliefs.
“All people, whether Muslims or not, respect those with good manners, for sound conduct is a high human value,” he said.
He urged the faithful to distance themselves from actions that can cause disharmony, hatred and division.
“Love and compassion should prevail in our dealings, and it is part of our faith that we all together unite,” he said, adding that cooperation can preserve the Muslim community’s cohesion.
“This proves the fact that Islam is an all-encompassing spirit that includes goodness to all humanity. Our Prophet has said: ‘The best people are those who are the most beneficial to people.’”
He concluded by urging the pilgrims to take advantage of their time at the holy sites to supplicate and seek forgiveness from Allah for their sins.
Pilgrims pack Mount Arafat
Huge crowds of robed Muslim pilgrims prayed on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat on Friday, the climax of the biggest Hajj pilgrimage since the pandemic forced drastic cuts in numbers two years in a row.
Groups of worshippers, many holding umbrellas against the fierce sun, recited verses from the Qur’an on the rocky rise, where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have given his final sermon.
Prayers on Mount Arafat, also known as the “Mount of Mercy,” are the highlight of the pilgrimage, capped this year at one million people including 850,000 from abroad after Covid greatly reduced numbers over 2020 and 2021.
Pilgrims, many of them in simple white robes and chanting “Oh God, here I am,” reached Mount Arafat on foot or in buses from the tents nearby where they spent the night.
After sunset, they will journey the short distance to Muzdalifah, where they will sleep under the stars before performing the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ceremony on Saturday.
“I am so happy to be here, like everyone else. This is the biggest Hajj in the coronavirus era, but it isn’t big enough yet,” Egyptian pilgrim Saad Farhat Khalil, 49, told AFP.
“There are one million here today, but if the Saudis allowed more, 10 million would have came,” he added.
Entry roads were packed with worshippers as helicopters buzzed overhead and volunteers handed out bottles of water and collected rubbish in green plastic bags.
“Let’s keep the purest of all lands clean,” read a sign on a large garbage container.
The Hajj, usually one of the world’s largest annual religious gatherings, is among the five pillars of Islam and must be undertaken by all Muslims with the means at least once in their lives.
In 2019, as in previous years, some 2.5 million Muslims from around the world took part, a figure that dropped to a few thousand in 2020 and 60,000 in 2021.
Even though the crowds are back, Covid fears remain and the Hajj is taking place against the backdrop of a resurgence in the region, with some Gulf countries tightening restrictions to keep outbreaks in check.
All participants were required to submit proof of full vaccination and negative PCR tests. On reaching their white-tent encampment at Mina on Thursday, they were handed small bags containing masks and sanitiser.
The pilgrimage can be physically draining even in ideal conditions, but worshippers this year have faced an added challenge: scorching sun and temperatures rising to 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit).
Islam forbids men from wearing hats once the rites start, and many have been seen shielding themselves with umbrellas, prayer mats and even, in one case, a small bucket filled with water. Women, meanwhile, are obliged to cover their heads with scarves.