Pilgrims successfully and safely completed rituals on Arafat day, the most important day of the Hajj, following preventive protocols approved by the Ministry of Health.
Flocking from Mina to Arafat on Thursday, pilgrims attended the annual sermon at Namirah Mosque and spent the day in supplication, praying and reading the Qur’an until sunset.
They were transported from Mina to Arafat under strict precautionary measures, with each group accompanied by security, ambulances, and civil defense vehicles.
“The camps were set up for pilgrims in Arafat early on,” Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten said. “The camps are equipped with all necessary services to help pilgrims perform their rituals in ease and reassurance, according to sanitary procedures and social distancing measures.”
He noted that pilgrim selection processes were rigorous and precise from a health perspective, and that each pilgrim obtained a health certificate proving that they were free of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Arafat day, the second day of Hajj, is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. Pilgrims used to make their way to about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of central Makkah in their tens of thousands on buses, with some traveling on foot. However, due to COVID-19, the remarkable gathering was canceled for the first time in modern history.
The Hajj climaxes on the plain of Arafat. Being on Arafat on the ninth of Dul Hijjah, even if only for a few moments, is a pivotal rite; any pilgrim who fails to reach the Plain of Arafat on that day is considered not to have completed their journey, and must repeat the ritual another year. Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manea delivered the Arafat sermon at Al-Namirah Mosque, and led the pilgrims in the noon and afternoon prayers.
“In Hajj this year, we reiterate that it is essential for pilgrims, as well as everyone assisting them, to adhere to the precautionary regulations that have been implemented. This is to be done for their own safety,” said Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, during the sermon.
He added: “Precautions have been put in place to protect lives against the damage that the pandemic can cause, and also to actualize Islam’s teachings pertaining to safeguarding human life by Allah’s permission.”
Al-Manea prayed to remove the pandemic, cure the ill, and enable researchers and those working in the medical field to uncover treatments for diseases.
He also prayed for peace and love between peoples, and called on Muslims to uphold ties of kinship, foster harmony, togetherness, and social solidarity.
Moreover, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance launched a robotic service for the first time at Al-Namirah Mosque, acting as a mufti offering religious counseling services for pilgrims who had inquiries about any issue or Hajj rituals. The robot allows pilgrims to directly speak to scholars through video calls and ensures commitment to social distancing.
Pilgrims were also gifted with care packs that contained masks, anti-bacterial wipes, sanitizer, a bag for their prayer mats and an umbrella to beat the heat.
After standing on Arafat, pilgrims headed to the holy site of Muzdalifah in separate groups, according to health protocols. Muzadlifdah is where pilgrims collect pebbles before heading back to Mina for the Jamarat rite, the symbolic stoning of the devil.