August 21, 2018
Number of Hajj pilgrims in the Saudi holy city of Makkah has already exceeded last year, according to the country’s General Authority for Statistics
Muslim worshippers circumambulate around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AHMAD ALRUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
The number of Hajj pilgrims in the Saudi holy city of Makkah has already exceeded last year, according to the country’s General Authority for Statistics.
Pilgrims from every corner of the globe marked the second day of Hajj on Monday, the high point of the pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, Islam’s holiest city. It is considered to be the largest annual religious gathering in the world.
According to the official figures, the number of international and domestic pilgrims who arrived in Makkah by August 20 reached 2,368,873, of whom 237,160 pilgrims are Saudis or residents of the kingdom.
The authority said the numbers have already surpassed last year’s, when more than 2.35 million pilgrims performed Hajj, with more pilgrims yet to arrive.
The biggest overseas contingents are from Egypt, Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Yemen, Sudan and Jordan, it added.
It was a sea of white at Mount Arafat on Monday. After a night of heavy rains Sunday night, the multitudes of pilgrims, donning Ihram white special garments for men, started to move to Arafat, the high point of the pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, Islam’s holiest city.
Once at Mount Arafat – where Prophet Mohammed delivered his last sermon – the pilgrims stood in contemplation, praying and asking God for forgiveness of their sins and listening to clerics delivering sermons near Jabal Al-Rahmah.
Known as “standing before God,” this segment of the second day’s ritual is one of the most solemn of the pilgrimage.
The pilgrims also performed prayers which were attended by Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and governor of Makkah region; and Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s Grand Mufti and president of Council of Senior Scholars and General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta.
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also chairman of Hajj Central Committee, said 10 projects had been executed at the holy sites including the expansion of roads and the separating of routes for pedestrians from those of the buses, adding that more than 1.8 million pilgrims will be transported by 18,000 buses.
On Tuesday, Muslims observe the first day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, which marks the end of the hajj.
Muslims traditionally slaughter sheep for the three-day Eid al-Adha, a tribute to the prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of a lamb after God spared Ishmael, his son.
They will consume some of the meat and give the rest to poor people unable to buy food.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam which every Muslim is required to complete at least once in their lifetime if they are healthy enough and have the means to do so.