King Salman arrives in Mina to oversee facilities for pilgrims

11/08/19

King Salman at the Mina Palace on Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. (SPA)

King Salman was received at Mina Palace by several senior officials, including Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif
MINA: King Salman arrived in Mina on Saturday to oversee facilities for Hajj pilgrims and ensure that they are comfortable.

Almost 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world are participating in Hajj, one of the largest annual global gatherings.

On Saturday, pilgrims spent the day in Arafat where it rained heavily during the afternoon. After sunset, they made their way to Muzdalifah.

Muslims who are not performing Hajj will celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, on Sunday.

King Salman was received at Mina Palace by several senior officials, including Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif.

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Saudi ministry offers Hajj hotline and ‘Fatwa Robot’ service

11/08/19

The robot will provide pilgrims under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests program with fatwas and other religious advice. (SPA)

There is a version of the remote-controlled Fatwa robot designed for people with special needs
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs is offering a free hotline to answer all questions related to pilgrimage rituals on the contact number 8002451000.
The service covers eight languages, including Arabic, English, French, Urdu, Turkish and Indonesian.
Pilgrims can choose to listen to electronic messages about the rites of Hajj and Umrah, general messages from the ministry and rulings from the permanent committee of religious researchers.
Moreover, they can speak directly to one of the ministry’s Islamic guidance representatives, who are available 24 hours a day.
The team is made up of dozens of religious preachers who will provide information on Hajj procedures and answer all queries.
The ministry has offered this service for six years in a row. When it first started, the hotline only provided 8 hours of contact time.
The average number of calls per day exceeded 1,030 during last year’s Hajj.

1,030
Average number of calls per day exceeded during last year’s Hajj.

The ministry has also launched the “Fatwa Robot” service.
The robot will provide pilgrims under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests program with fatwas and other religious advice.
Users will be able to connect through video calls with a group of Muftis in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to access fatwas and advice in a number of languages.
There is a version of the remote-controlled Fatwa robot designed for people with special needs.

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Arab News has the Hajj pilgrims covered

10/08/19

There are more than 2 million pilgrims attending Hajj. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

Pilgrims can be seen at all parts of the Hajj journey sheltering from the sun. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

It’s unlikely to rain during the pilgrimage – but at least they are prepared. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

Most of the pilgrimage is spent outdoors. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

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Why Qatari support for political Islamism is a menace

10/08/19

I remember the 1960s and 70s only too well. Internationally it was the height of the Cold War. In Britain there was regular industrial unrest, fueled by militant trades unions and often inept senior management and politicians. In the 1970s, the National Union of Miners (NUM) under Arthur Scargill, like many of his colleagues a former communist with pronounced Marxist views, were a thorn in the flesh of successive governments. In the 1974 general election, the question became: Who governs Britain? During the miners’ strike of 1984-85 the NUM received funding from Qaddafi’s Libya and the Soviet Union.

Thanks to the release of official papers and the work of some diligent journalists, we now know a lot more about the efforts the USSR and its Eastern European satellites made to target trades unionists and prominent politicians as potential agents of influence. They were extensive and well funded. They sometimes succeeded. Much the same happened across the whole of Western Europe, where communist parties were often stronger than in the UK.

Acutely aware of the threat to national security, government ministers regularly registered their deep concern. In 1966, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson denounced the leaders of a dockers’ strike as “politically motivated men.” In the mid-1970s another Labour Prime Minister, James Callaghan, and his finance minister, Denis Healey, bravely stood up to extreme left-wing pressure at successive Labour Party conferences. Later, Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock from opposite ends of the political spectrum took firm stands against those they believed sought to undermine democratic politics and an open economy.

They did so because Marxist-Leninism aimed not to advance or improve the liberal capitalist system that formed the basis of British and other European democracies, but to overthrow and replace it.

Marxist-Leninism in its various forms is still with us, but it lacks a determined state sponsor. Its cause was severely damaged by the failure of the Soviet Union, at least as long as that remains a living memory. The new threats to liberal democracies and open economies come from elsewhere. One such source is the emerging new authoritarianism in China, Russia and elsewhere, which seeks to take advantage of the messiness of the democratic process, political stresses in Europe and the US and new and sophisticated digital tools. These authoritarians certainly wish to rebalance the global order in their own favor. But they don’t particularly want to replace — as opposed to shape — other political systems, at least not yet.

This is not the case with another threat to liberal democracy, that of political Islamism. The UK newspaper The Times published two reports last week about huge amounts of funding being channeled by Qatar through certain banks and charitable institutions to Islamist causes in Britain. This year two journalists in Paris published the latest in a series of French books on the subject, Qatar Papers, detailing claims of a massive network of Qatari funding across Europe designed to benefit Islamist causes and groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The book describes what is happening as “entryism,” a word once commonly used to describe alleged communist subversion of Western institutions, and which has come back into vogue in the UK as a consequence of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn.

The UK newspaper The Times published two reports last week about huge amounts of funding being channeled by Qatar through certain banks and charitable institutions to Islamist causes in Britain.

Sir John Jenkins

This has predictably caused a bit of a fuss, but it is an important and timely warning. The principle of non-intervention is an established part of international law, even if what it means in practice in a highly interdependent world is much less clear. States have a broad if not unrestrained right to sovereignty and to their own domestic political, social and economic arrangements in so far as they pose no threat to others. But Islamism, like communism, does not seek to compete with other systems in friendly (or unfriendly) rivalry. It seeks to replace them.

This is a highly sensitive subject, for both Muslims and non-Muslims. But that cannot mean we must be silent. The matter is too urgent. Islamism is the purposeful mobilization of religious and cultural identity in the interests of a sometimes violent but always socio-revolutionary supercessionist and often transnational political enterprise. In pursuit of this it views the extraordinarily complex, diverse and rich civilisation of Islam through the lens of an absolutist and impoverished historicism and claims an exclusive right to decide the exact nature of Islam and the true identity of a Muslim. This can be totalitarian and is certainly deeply destabilising. A brief glance around the Middle East and North Africa suggests several reasons why this might be so. It is equally damaging outside majority-Muslim countries, where social cohesion and national identity have become matters of huge concern at a time of economic turbulence and increasing national populism.

Saudi Arabia was once a patron of numerous Islamist groups globally, for a number of complex reasons; some to do with the threat from Nasser’s Egypt and other varieties of trans-national Arabism, some doubtless to do with a misplaced confidence that the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood simply wanted to promote Islam. By 2002, when the late Prince Naif gave his famous interview on the subject to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Siyasseh, those illusions had been well and truly shattered, and the Kingdom now seeks other paths.

Qatar, for reasons I still fail to understand, seems not to wish to apply the same lessons, in spite of repeated promises to fellow Gulf leaders. Turkey seems to be following suit not just in parts of the Middle East and North Africa but in Germany, Austria and the Balkans. This is a big problem. And it will remain a problem as long as the Muslim Brotherhood and other forms of political Islamism receive state backing in their attempts to replace not just the international but also domestic political, social, economic and cultural orders with one of their choosing.

• Sir John Jenkins is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange. Until December 2017, he was Corresponding Director (Middle East) at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Manama, Bahrain and was a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He was the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia until January 2015.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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Worshippers gather on Mount Arafat on the second day of Hajj

10/08/19

The second day of Hajj is known as the Day of Arafat when the pilgrims travel to the mountain. (Arab News/ Ali Khamg)

An emotional woman looks up to the sky as she prays at Mount Arafat. (Arab News/ Ali Khamg)

Arafat day when the pilgrims revisit the site hill where the Prophet Mohammad delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.(Arab News/ Ali Khamg)

It is not required to climb the hill, but many still do. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

  • Heavy rain drenched pilgrims and provided respite from the summer heat
  • Hajj pilgrims arrived at Mina on Friday where they remained in the city until sunrise

ARAFAT: Over two million pilgrims arrived at Mount Arafat on Saturday as Hajj approached its peak.

Some of the pilgrims had tears streaming down their faces as the men and women raised their hands in worship on the slopes of the rocky hill.

Arab News

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Our reporter @Ruaa_Alameri is at on day two of the Hajj pilgrimage

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Many walked through the pre-dawn darkness early Saturday to the hill where the Prophet Mohammad delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.

Security authorities organized the roads and guided pilgrims in order to ensure their safe passage. The various government sectors have also offered hair, catering and medical services to worshippers.

Arab News

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Arab News is among the pilgrims as they embark on day two of their journey at https://bit.ly/2GVz5BK 

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One of the largest religious gatherings on earth, the second day of the hajj is often the most memorable for pilgrims.

Hajj pilgrims arrived at Mina on Friday where they remained in the city until sunrise on the second day of Hajj and then travelled to Mount Arafat.

They stand shoulder to shoulder with Muslims from around the world seeking God’s mercy and blessings.

Later in the day the skies turned grey as they filled with heavy rain clouds and spilled open, drenching everyone below.

But the turn in conditions did not dampen spirits and many of the pilgrims could be seen praying during the storm, expressing their joy for rain.

“I feel so happy, I feel as if my Hajj has received more mercy from Allah,” one pilgrim told Arab News in reference to the rain.

Pilgrims caught in the rain, stopped and prayed, expressing their gratefulness of the sudden downpour. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News) 

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Hajj through history

10/08/19

In this Dec. 26, 2007 photo, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims pack the courtyard of the majestic Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP file photo)

Center of Islam

The Kaaba’s then gold-and-silver door went through several changes over the years. It took three years to build this particular door, which had a metal base, with two wooden shutters fixed on its surface. It was decorated with silver and copper and plated with gold.

A glimpse from the past

An old photo of Hajj in 1975. (Social media photo)

Seeking God’s blessing

During circumambulation, pilgrims kiss the black stone or touch the Kaaba or the black silk and cotton fabric, called the Kiswa, which covers it. (Shutterstock)

Golden memories

An old photo showing the process of making the Kaaba’s cover Kiswa in the 1970s. (Social media photo)

Holy guests 

A file photo from Hajj 1978.

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International pilgrims express gratitude for the Kingdom’s Hajj efforts

09/08/19

  • President of the Lebanese Islamic Center for Studies and Media said Saudi Hajj efforts are make him proud
  • Religious advisor from New Zealand said Hajj will help victims of Christchurch terror attack heal

DUBAI: Pilgrims from around the world have thanked King Salman for the new services offered during Hajj, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

Mused Abduljalil. (SPA)

Mused Abduljalil, a pilgrim from the families of martyrs and Yemen’s national army soldiers’ group, visited Makkah as part of “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests’ program for Hajj and Umrah.”

“When I received King Salman bin Abudlaziz’s invitation to perform Hajj, my emotions were mixed with happiness tears that my dream was coming true,” Abdulmajid said.

Anwar Jaafar Al-Murooj. (SPA)

Meanwhile, Serbia’s senior imam and mufti advisor sheikh Anwar Jaafar Al-Murooj said the Kingdom was a leading power in the Islamic world.

The Saudi support for Muslims from around the world, including those from Serbia specifically, left him speechless, he added.

Khaldoon Oraymet. (SPA)

The president of the Lebanese Islamic Center for Studies and Media, judge and Sheikh Khaldoon Oraymet, said he was happy to join “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests’ program for Hajj and Umrah.”

“What the Kingdom does for pilgrims makes us proud, as despite the hardships in Lebanon we feel like Saudi Arabia will stand in the face of those who want to cause trouble in the Arab world,” he added.

Saeed Abdulaziz. (SPA)

In the meantime, the Mufti of Karelia province in Finland Sheikh Saeed Abdulaziz, who has already previously performed Hajj, said the newly implemented technologies by the Kingdom made the experience easier.

He and his group of pilgrims did not face any problems in commuting between their accommodation and the various places of worship, Abdulaziz added.

Mohammed Haneef Kewazi. (SPA)

Meanwhile, one of the advisors of an Islamic association in New Zealand, Mohammed Haneef Kewazi, thanked the King and the Crown Prince for inviting the families and victims of Christchurch terrorist attack.

The happiness of those pilgrims will help them heal from the pain of the shooting incident, he added.

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Arab News Hajj app explained

09/08/19

What it is

The Arab News Hajj app is a free smartphone application designed to help pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia to perform the holy rituals. It offers essential information and contact details needed during their spiritual journey. 

This year’s version of the app, endorsed once more by the Muslim World League, comes with a new design that provides an improved user experience. Enhanced features include live news updates and the signature ‘Pilgrim Tracker,’ which enables worshippers to connect with their loved ones back home. The new features give pilgrims the option to listen to verses from the Qur’an, to use a digital Qibla compass and activate a real-time currency converter to help to process their payments.

 

What it does: Main features

 

Pilgrim tracker: If you get lost in the crowd of Hajj pilgrims, there is no need to panic. This feature allows you to track and check on friends and family while performing Hajj. Each user has a unique code that can be shared with their loved ones to let them know where they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hajj information: All you need to know about Hajj rituals. Key information such as daily prayer times and weather updates can also be found under this feature. It also has important contact details of all embassies and other useful numbers such as hotels and restaurants. The feature also shows pilgrims the nearest hospitals, train stations and Grand Mosque gates.

 

 

 

 

Latest news: Pilgrims no longer need to worry about grabbing newspapers or checking online news outlets while performing Hajj. All the latest stories and developments from our team of journalists covering Hajj will be listed in detail under this feature.

 

 


 

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Staying safe at Arafat: a guide

09/08/19

An Egyptian pilgrim pushes his elderly father in a wheelchair Friday at the huge tent city of Mina, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, where pilgrims will spend the night before heading to Mount Arafat on Saturday. (AP Photo)

Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah. (File/Reuters)

  • On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims will leave Mina and head to the area of Mount Arafat for a day of prayer and contemplation, repenting for their sins and asking Allah’s forgiveness
  • Umbrellas are an excellent way for pilgrims to gain some protection from the sun’s glare – health experts also highly recommend sunscreen and sunglasses

JEDDAH: As Hajj pilgrims begin their entry into the vicinity of Mount Arafat on Saturday, Arab News takes a look at the most important information you need to know regarding the day of supplication and prayer.

According to the Prophet (PBUH), “Hajj is Arafah”. Arafah Day is the most fundamental of the rites of Hajj, and without it, the pilgrimage cannot be complete. On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims will leave Mina and head to the area of Mount Arafat for a day of prayer and contemplation, repenting for their sins and asking Allah’s forgiveness before heading to Muzdalifah.

With more than 2 million pilgrims performing Hajj this year, safety is a concern for everyone involved. And with Hajj taking place in the middle of summer, the heat poses a serious problem. Here are some tips on how pilgrims can stay safe during this scorching Hajj season.

Pilgrims are required to enter Arafah any time before sunset, which is when pilgrims will start making their journey to Muzdalifah. Therefore some pilgrims can try to avoid the biggest crowds and journey to Arafah any time during the day, as long as they arrive before Maghrib prayer.

The number one concern of Hajj pilgrims is heat stroke; the Ministry of Hajj reported that heat-related illnesses contributed to 24 percent of hospital admissions in 2015. Various hospitals throughout Makkah have echoed the sentiment.

According to the rules of Ihram (Hajj preparation), men are forbidden from covering their heads with hats, turbans, and anything touching the tops of their heads. A common misconception is that this means that they cannot cover their heads at all, but umbrellas are an excellent way for pilgrims to gain some protection from the sun’s glare. Health experts also highly recommend sunscreen, sunglasses and other means of sun protection.

Pilgrims are also advised to ensure that their footwear is appropriate: male pilgrims are allowed to wear open sandals or flip-flops, and are not advised to try to perform Hajj barefoot. Female pilgrims can wear anything, as long as it is taher (free of decontaminants). The ground can often get dangerously hot and cause severe discomfort. The only time during Hajj a pilgrim is required to be barefoot is within the Masjid Al-Haram and during the tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka’abah).

Another important tip is to stay hydrated; the heat can peak at 50 degrees at the worst of times, and combined with the efforts of performing Hajj, the danger of dehydration is very real. There are various points throughout all the major stops of Hajj where pilgrims can get water and zamzam, and having a canteen or a refillable water bottle can be a godsend. For those who prefer their water cold, insulated bottles such as those available from Corkcicle or Thermos can keep your drinks cold for long periods of time.

It’s also important to remember that with so many people from all around the world in such a small place, the potential to get sick rises significantly. It’s important to always have some vitamin C tablets with you, and other immunity boosters. Proper sustenance is also a must; keeping one’s strength up is a vital part of being able to get the most out of one’s Hajj. Healthy foods, healthy snacks, and proper doses of vitamins can help you minimize your chances of getting sick post-Hajj.

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Hajj chiefs launch two smart apps to help pilgrims

Time: August 07, 2019  

The Manasikana app was launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. (Social media)
  • The app is available in 9 languages

JEDDAH: Hajj authorities have launched two interactive apps to help pilgrims, with a range of services on smart devices including help in finding emergency service centers, holy sites, currency exchanges, restaurants and accommodation.

Available in nine languages including English, Urdu and French, the Manasikana app was launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage. It provides geographical coordinates to pinpoint exact locations in Makkah, Madinah and other cities, even without an internet connection.

Holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa, plus mosques, restaurants and toilets are among places highlighted on the app, which has already been downloaded more than 10,000 times.

Prayers for different Hajj rituals are also available, with detailed guides and dos and don’ts on performing the pilgrimage.

The Saudi Post’s app for pilgrims, the Hajj and Umrah Navigator, features maps giving directions to holy places in Makkah and Madinah. Pilgrims can input addresses, services, camp numbers or the names of Hajj companies to search for information in 16 languages.

The navigator can also find faster routes between busy centers and offers other information such as directions to the Kaaba, weather forecasts and prayer times.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior’s traffic police department for Hajj has also developed an app for organizers planning vehicle movements during peak periods. It is constantly updated to cover all types of transport.

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