MUZDALIFAH: Throngs of pilgrims converged yesterday on Muzdalifah to prepare for Eid Al Adha feast after a day of prayer on Mount Arafat for an end to disputes and bloodshed.
The faithful will spend the night in Muzdalifah to collect stones which they will use a symbolic ritual of stoning the devil in nearby Mina today, the first day of the feast of sacrifice.
Most of the pilgrims travelled from Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah on foot, while others took buses and trains, some riding on the roofs. Thousands of security men were deployed to organise the traffic flowing into Muzdalifah.
Earlier in the day, men, women and children from across the Muslim world flooded the roads to Mount Arafat chanting “Labaik Allahum Labaik” (I am responding to your call, God).
In his annual sermon, top Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh urged Muslims to avoid divisions, chaos and sectarianism.
“Your nation is a trust with you. You must safeguard its security, stability and resources,” the cleric, who heads Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, said in an address to the Muslim world.
“You should know that you are targeted by your enemy... who wants to spread chaos among you ... It’s time to confront this.” The cleric recalled the Islamic prohibition of killing and aggression, while insisting there is “no salvation or happiness for the Muslim nation without adhering to the teachings of the religion.”
Prince Khaled told the official SPA news agency that authorities had turned back 70,000 nationals and expatriates for not carrying legal permits and had arrested 38,000 others for performing Haj without a permit.
Authorities have also seized as many as 138,000 vehicles for violating the Haj rules, and owners will be penalised, the prince said.
Many pilgrims said they were praying for peace in Muslim nations mired in sectarian and political strife. “I will pray the whole day for God to improve the situation for Muslims worldwide and for an end to disputes and bloodshed in Arab countries,” 61-year-old Algerian pensioner Saeed Dherari said.
“I hope that God will grace all Muslims with security and stability,” said 75-year-old Ahmad Khader, who hails from the southern Syrian province of Daraa. “The regime is tyrannical and I pray for God to help the oppressed people,” he said. AFP