Despite soaring temperatures in the Saudi Kingdom spirits remain high amongst pilgrims, less than 24 hours before they are set to grace the plains of Arafat for the pinnacle of the hajj pilgrimage. 2000 South Africans are amongst the 2 million Muslims that have poured into the holy lands for the five-day journey. By Tuesday morning most of the hujaaj would have arrived in the tent-city of Mina, going through their final preparations before departing for Arafat.
Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels, representing the Al Anwar Hajj and Umrah tour group, is amongst the spiritual guides accompanying and assisting pilgrims in the Kingdom. According to him emotions were at present high amongst pilgrims who were feeling “honoured to be the guests of Allah”.
“Everybody here is connected with Allah, and it is so beautiful to know that these two million Muslims on hajj are not only making dua for themselves or their parents and family, but for each and every Muslim in this world,” he said.
Undertaking the journey with Flywell Travel, Firoz Khan is been afforded the opportunity to perform his second hajj in as many years, acting as a mahram for his mother this time around. He said the feeling of being in the Kingdom was immensely overwhelming.
“Spiritually we are really uplifted. We have Mufti AK Hoosain with us and it is now all about ibadah, thikr and things like that. Everything is going well and we are looking up to waking up tomorrow morning,” he explained.
He was also full of praise for the manner in which Saudi authorities were facilitating the event, especially in light of on-going constructions and renovations in Makkah. Haj 1437 was somewhat blighted by an unfortunate tragedy last week, when a crane collapsed on a section of Masjid al-Haram, killing more than 107 pilgrims.
“We’ve got to take our hat off for them, they are doing an excellent job,” he added.
Fellow hujaaj Mohammed Faisal Ismail was also full of thanks to the hospitality shown by authorities in the Kingdom, the Saudi people as well as the respective South African facilitators.
“I must also mention thanks to Sahuc. Right from the first step into Medina I didn’t even have to touch my bag. They saw to everything, right down to the taxis into Medina. I even got sick so I went to Sahuc and they took care of me, gave me medication and injections. Everything was to the tee,” he declared, adding that the group could not wait for the day of Arafat to arrive.
Disabled hajji, Magdie Dramat, said the whole Travel Unlimited group was sufficiently prepared for the journey ahead thanks to the two scholars accompanying them, and were now eagerly anticipating the start of the hajj. He said the journey would mark a “lifetime achievement” for those undertaking it.
“Arafat puts you on the highest point where you can communicate with your maker. It is a chance in a million for us to be heard, and to pour our hearts and ask for forgiveness…the enthusiasm and anticipation here, you can actually feel it,” he said.
Wetton-based, Waleed Adams said that when pilgrims first arrived in Makkah they were initially able to leave for the Haram al-Sharif 10 minutes prior to each prayer. But with millions more having since swarmed into the holy lands, such trips were taking at least two hours.
He described himself as overwhelmed at the prospect of standing on the plains of Arafat.
“As a Muslim it is the one day you are taught that Allah will remove all your sins. Whatever you can remember that you did wrong you ask Allah to forgive you, and you are preparing yourself now already for that moment,” he noted.
Hujaaj are expected to depart for Arafat on Wednesday morning. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)