Saudi authorities said the total number of pilgrims performing Hajj this year has now surpassed two million, the majority of them from outside the Kingdom
MAKKAH, Saudi Arabia – Pilgrims from around the world began began preparing for the first rituals of Hajj on Sunday, the Islamic major pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, Islam’s holiest city. More than two million pilgrims will perform Hajj this year, according to a preliminary tally by Saudi authorities.
From the early morning, pilgrims reciting prayers and asking God for acceptance and forgiveness started to flock from Makkah to Mina to spend the first day of Hajj – known as Yaum Al Tarwiyah.
Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the most important spiritual journey in a Muslim’s life time. All Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the pilgrimage are required to do so at least once in their lives.
Saudi authorities officially announced on Saturday that the total number of pilgrims performing Hajj this year has now surpassed two million, the majority of them from outside the Kingdom, but said the final numbers may increase with the arrival of more pilgrims. The biggest contingents are from Egypt, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Yemen, Sudan and Jordan, among others. Last year, more than 2.35 million pilgrims performed Hajj.
Hajj officially starts on the evening of 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts for five days until the 12th but some pilgrims still perform Hajj on the 13th of the same Islamic month of 1439 Hijri year, corresponding to Sunday August 19th to Friday August 24th, 2018.
FROM MAKKAH TO MINA
On the first day of the pilgrimage pilgrims perform rituals such as donning Ihram, or the special white garments; declaring their intention to perform the major pilgrimage; walking counterclockwise around the Kaaba – at a rate of 107,000 pilgrims per hour – and most of them leave for Mina and stay overnight.
Mina, which has a total area of about 17 square kilometers, is located between Makkah and another Holy Site, Muzdalifah. It lies seven kilometers north-east of Al-Masjid Al-Haram. It is a border of the Haram surrounded by mountains and is only inhabited during Hajj.
On the second day the pilgrims perform the Sa’i, the key rite of walking back and forth seven times between Safa and Marwah hills near Kabaa in the Haram. The second day is known as Yawm Arafa, as pilgrims leave Mina for Mount Arafa or Arafat, where they stand in contemplative vigil, asking God for forgiveness of their sins and listening to sermons near Jabal Al-Rahmah, after which they head to Muzdalifah, where pilgrims pray all night, sleeping beneath the night sky and gathering pebbles for the ritual of stoning the Devil, carried out on the third day.
Mina has the highest number of Saudi government departments and service providers working to facilitate the performance of the Hajj by pilgrims, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
On the eve of the first day of Hajj, Saudi authorities gave the logistical all-clear for the commencement of the pilgrimage. At a press conference on Saturday on preparations for Hajj that took place in Makkah and attended by representative of government entities involved in providing services to the pilgrims, Major General Mansour Al Turki, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that all entities that are part of the effort are ready and on standby to receive the pilgrims at the Holy Sites.
“Their task is to enable more than two million pilgrims to move from Makkah to Mina on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah, then to head to Mount Arafat on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah to spend the day there,” Major General Al-Turki said.
“After that, the pilgrims will move to Muzdalifah, then will go back to Mina. This process takes around 48 hours beginning at the dawn of the 8th of Dhul Hijjah until the dawn of the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, during which pilgrims move from Mecca to the holy places, stay in Arafat, go back to Muzdalifah at the sunset of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, then they go back to Mina, where they throw pebbles and perform Tawaf Al-Ifadah.”
Major General Al-Turki said the “7th of Dhul Hijjah represents the end of one phase and the beginning of another in Hajj. The one ending is called the pilgrims’ travel to Makkah.”
The pilgrims come from other countries to the Kingdom, most of them traveling by air through five airports, the majority arriving at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah. Few pilgrims arrived first at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and Ta’if airport.
Some 800 journalists from around the world are covering Hajj this year, with facilities provided for more than 150 media outlets from around the world, including 27 international networks.
HE Dr Awwad Alawwad, the Saudi Minister of Media, said: “The noble message of the Hajj pilgrimage is the confirmation of the discourse of moderation and temperance, the rejection of extremism and terrorism, and the promotion of the idea of the humanity of Islam, and that Hajj is in fact a platform for transmitting the message of peace, security, and moderation to the entire world.”
For any queries, please contact:
The Center for International Communication, Ministry of Media, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
Telephone: +966 56 221 3395
© Press Release 2018