Wiping the tears and sweat from their faces, multitudes of pilgrims bared their souls on Mount Arafat for the blessed Day of Wuqoof. The day marks the pinnacle of the Haj pilgrimage, as millions of Muslims stand on Arafat to repent for their sins and supplicate for forgiveness from the Creator.
In a broadcast live on VOC on Friday shortly after the Arafat prayers, Sheikh Riyaad Walls and Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels delivered emotional duas from the South African camp. Leading the hujjaj in dua, they weeped for forgiveness and begged for mercy for all wrong doing. They also urged for peace and tolerance at a troublesome time for the Muslim ummah, making a heartfelt prayer to stop the killing of innocent people in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the world. They also prayed for the deceased, the sick, the elderly, children and all families.
The hot, dry plains of Arafat were brought to life by the thousands of hujjaj, draped in the glowing white of the ihram. Hands elevated in prayer, they stood unified and equal, all with one common goal – to fulfil the most important ritual of haj.
Elderly pilgrims sat in wheelchairs, little ones in prams, and others leaned on sticks as they pushed their way towards Mount Mercy, the hill where Muslim Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made his final sermon 14 centuries ago. Some prayed and wept, some slept, while others spread their mats and sat reciting the Koran. With soaring well above 35°C, it was a hot and challenging day, particularly due to a lack of covering and shade.
But despite the simmering heat, many of the pilgrims were in a positive and joyous mood, according to ITV’s Saawmiet Moos, who is currently in the Saudi Kingdom undertaking the holy journey. He said the journey would likely be twofold for many of the hujaaj. Apart from being the first time many have left their country of origin, it will also be a chance for them to reach the peak of their spirituality, by completing the fifth pillar of Islam.
“They are going to have a chance to be on Arafat and make Istighfah for the mistakes they’ve made, so they can go home with a Hajj Maqbool. They will also have a chance to make dua for a long and blessed life, filled with joy and happiness,” he said.
The haj is widely considered to be the largest religious pilgrimage in the world, in terms of the sheer numbers that make the journey. This brings along major challenges in regards to media coverage. But having experienced the pilgrimage in previous years, Moos said they were well prepared to handle the pressures and difficulties that came with broadcasting during this period.
“The authorities here are very helpful. One has to take your hat off to them because they help make extra arrangements, they feed all the media people three times a day, they make sure that there is transport available, and they make sure that a simple thing like electricity is available and reliable for broadcast,” he explained.
There were similar sentiments coming from Radio Islam’s Maulana Suhaib Lasanya, who said the spirit amongst hujjaj was at an all time high. He noted that many had chosen to wake up during the early hours of the morning, in order to physically and spiritually prepare themselves for the day ahead.
“Different people were engaging in different acts and Ibahahs. But the crux of all this is that the people are preparing themselves spiritually as well as physically for the main Wuqoof,” he explain.
Lasanya is part of a special group of foreign nationals invited to attend the haj by King Abdullah himself, with all their arrangements and transports being catered for. He expressed himself extremely grateful for being afforded such an opportunity.
“This only comes from the grace and mercy of Allah (S.W.T). It is indeed a privilege from Allah (SWT) that he has chosen us,” he said.
With millions undertaking the holy journey each and every year, congestion and traffic has always been a long running problem in the Kingdom. But according to Lasanya, due to pilgrims using more systematic routes this time around, the pilgrimage was moving a lot smoother compared to previous years. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)
VOC will broadcast the Arafat sermon with translation at 6pm.