About two million Muslim faithful, including 55,000 from Nigeria, will today converge on Mount Arafat ((the mount of Mercy), as the 2018 hajj climaxes in Saudi Arabia.
Hajj is globally reputed as one of the largest annual gatherings of people from diverse races, status, ethnic groupings and tribes in a country undergoing unprecedented socio-economic and political reforms.
The convergence at Arafat paints a mental picture of how all creatures will stand before Allah (God) to account for their (mis)deeds and consequently get judgement.
The 9th Day of Dul-Hijjah is usually designated as the Arafat Day when millions of pilgrims gather at the plain of Arafat as the most obligatory ritual of Hajj.
The visit which commemorates the finality of revelation of the Holy Quran, is the climax of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, as any pilgrim who lost the opportunity would not be deemed to have fully accompanied the rites that go with the pilgrimage in the Holy Land.
According to Islamic tradition, the Mount Arafat was the spot where Adam and Eve united after Allah expelled them from Paradise, and fasting is recommended for all Muslims on this day.
According to the Prophet (peace be upon him), “Fasting on the Day of Arafat (9th Dul-Hijjah) is an expiation for (the sins of) the previous year and an expiation for (the sins of) the coming year.” The journey to Mount Arafat begun on Saturday night when the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the state pilgrim boards commenced transportation of pilgrims to Muna, which ended in the afternoon yesterday.
Muna is about five kilometres from Makkah.
Accommodated under white tents, the pilgrims spent the day and the night in supplication, praying, reading the Holy Quran and also resting ahead of the Arafat Day.
As a mark of equality before the creator, all men donned only their immaculate white robes, while the womenfolk put on their gowns and veils, all white.
Saudi cautions And as a mark of caution, the Saudi authority has warned pilgrims against overworking themselves, particularly engaging in unnecessary activities outside the primary assignment.
The warning, according to the authority, came against the harsh weather condition that normally obtains during the period of the Islamic obligation.
Further to that, NAHCON has also put some modalities in place to smoothen the movement of pilgrims from Muna to Arafat and their return journey to Muzdalifa as well as the stoning rites at Jamrat.
The measures were reeled out at a meeting with hajj stakeholders in Makka.
One of such measures, according to a top source who spoke with one of our reporters on telephone from Saudi Arabia yesterday, is the engagement of the pilgrims by the Ulamas (Muslim clerics) on what was expected of them during the visit.
He said: “There are measures in place to ensure a hitch-free Arafat Day.
You know the commission has always been on top of its game and that is why this operation is being given the right planning and necessary logistics.
“Prior to his time, there was a meeting where the pilgrims were briefed at their various state levels.
I must also add that, knowing what the weather condition is, it’s very harsh, no doubt, the host country, Saudi Arabia, has also warned all pilgrims against engaging in unnecessary activities while at Arafat.
The warning or caution if you like, is to guard against untoward development of getting fatigued.
“And in event of any emergency during this all-important spiritual exercise, the Saudi authority has made available some health facilities at different locations that could be accessed by the pilgrims.” Blueprint also gathered that, to avert the chaotic situation that usually characterises the stoning rites at Jamrat, pilgrims were directed to return to their tents in Muna after leaving Muzdalifa.
“And upon their return to the tents, the pilgrims would have relaxed and have sufficient rest and now move towards Jamrat in a group of between 200 and 250.
The various state boards have been given these directives via the Ulamahs.
With this, you can be rest assured that there will be sanity, with almost zero chances of casualty,” added another source.
Next step The Arafat visit is usually a sharp reflection of the last hajj performed by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him).
It was on that rocky hill that he delivered his farewell sermon to all those who accompanied him on that year’s hajj.
Upon the completion of the stoning rites, hajj ends with the Eid al-Adha feast, which is marked by the slaughter of sheep, a tribute to Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice of a lamb after God spared Ismaeel, his son.
Envoy’s charge to pilgrims Meanwhile, the Nigerian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Isa Dodo, has urged pilgrims to pray for Nigeria.
Speaking during the pre-Arafat meeting convened by NAHCON, the envoy said Nigeria “is having security and economic issues, pray for your country to overcome these issues.” Dodo also urged the pilgrims to pray for “free, fair and violence-free” election next year.
He warned the pilgrims to abide by the laws of Saudi Arabia throughout their stay in the country.
Saraki urges prayer for peace Also, President of the Senate, Dr.
Bukola Saraki, has charged Nigerian pilgrims currently performing this year’s hajj to use the significance of the Arafat Day today to pray for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections in 2019.
Saraki, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said as Nigeria is set for the conduct of general elections to elect her leaders in 2019, there is no better time to seek for the almighty’s intervention to ensure an exercise devoid of violence than now because of the significance of Arafat.
He said it was the almighty Allah’s promise to mankind that all prayers made during Arafat would be granted, saying “as such Nigerian hajj pilgrims should endeavour to utilise the unique opportunity for the peace of the country before, during and after the 2019 elections.” He further advised Nigerian pilgrims that the gathering of worshippers from all over the world on the plains of the holy Mount Arafat, offers a rare opportunity for them to intensify prayers to Almighty Allah to resolve the economic and security challenges facing the country.
He said: “Today our country is passing through a difficult phase of nation-building occasioned by economic challenges, rising insecurity and threat to our corporate existence as a nation by uncertain political atmosphere by actions of selfish politicians.
“It is therefore not only advisable but necessary for our pilgrims to seize this rare opportunity the Arafat Day offers to say prayers for our nation to overcome these challenges, and that we as citizens should rededicate ourselves to the service of our country.
” He further called on Nigerians at home to also join in the prayers on the Arafat Day as Muslims believe that wherever you are on this special day, if you supplicate to the Almighty, He will answer the prayers.
“Let Nigerian Muslims in Saudi Arabia and those at home devote this day for seeking Allah’s intervention to restore peace in the troubled parts of the country, help our economy to recover, help the leaders to deliver on our promises and solidify the unity and stability of our country so that individual citizens can realize their genuine hopes and aspirations “, he stressed.
Saraki however advised the pilgrims to continue to conduct themselves in good and orderly manner, while also complying with all laws, regulations and directives by the Saudi authorities aimed at making the remaining period of the hajj exercise hitch-free.