MOUNT ARAFAT / SAUDI ARABIA: Addressing millions of Hajj pilgrims, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz said those shedding blood and spreading anarchy in society are enemies of Allah and not followers of Islam.
In his sermon from Masjid-e-Nimra, he said “Islam is a religion of peace and strongly disapproves acts of terrorism. It is the responsibility of religious scholars to spread the message of peace.”
“Our religion preaches brotherhood, tolerance and harmony for the establishment of a society, which respects rights of all the segments of the society,” he said.
“Islam is the solution for the problems” of Muslims, he said, warning the faithful of “a media and cultural invasion that seeks to weaken (their) faith.”
The top cleric urged Muslims to solve their problems “without interference from their enemies,” condemning those who want to “provoke hostility between you and your leaders.”
More than two million Muslims gathered on Saturday on Mount Arafat and its surrounding plain, marking the peak day of Hajj.
There were no immediate reports of major incidents as security officials focused on crowd control.
“Things are going well and according to plan,” interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al Turki told AFP.
Many went on buses, while others set off on foot from Mina, a tent-village that comes to life only during the five-day pilgrimage.
Others took the Mashair Railway, also known as the Makkah Metro, to go to Mount Arafat and its surrounding plains, where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered his final sermon.
Mukhtar al Rahman, who is more than 100 years of age, said “this is the dream of my life which took a century to come true.”
“The crowds have tired me and as you can see I can’t stand properly because of the huge crowds flooding” into the area, the elderly Bengali said panting as he looked for a small chair to sit on.
Indonesian pilgrim Noor Laila said: “I’m so happy to have set foot on Arafat’s sacred soil.”
“I want to wash away all my sins and ask God to forgive my mistakes. This is the first time I come to Hajj and I hope it won’t be the last,” said the 36-year-old.
Malaysian Abdullah Wali al-Deen, 45, said he had been working for years for this day. “I came here with my family after we managed to save enough money,” he said. “Everyone in here is equal. There are no differences between various nationalities. This is the religion of peace, love and brotherhood.”
More than 1.83 million pilgrims have arrived in the kingdom from abroad, marking a 1.5 per cent increase from last year, said Makkah Governor Prince Khaled al Faisal.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2011.