ISLAMABAD: About 2.5 million faithful from across the globe have gathered in the holy land of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj pilgrimage on Wednesday. These pilgrims include 143,368 Pakistanis, who are performing Hajj under government and private Hajj schemes.
All pilgrims wearing Ahram are moving from the holy city of Makkah to nearby Mina for the start of Hajj rituals. They will spend the night at Mina under the open sky before moving to Arafat Wednesday morning to perform the main ritual of Hajj, called Waqoof.
Pilgrims like 35-year-old Egyptian Walaa Ali had been gathering for days ahead of the event.
Read: Pilgrims in mass movement to start Hajj
“It is a gift from Allah that He has chosen us to come here,” Ali said with tears in her eyes, as preachers nearby explained the history and rituals of the Hajj to men and women sitting side by side in Makkah. “I am so happy to be here,” she said.
The pilgrims, after the Waqoof Arafat, will spend the whole night under the open sky at Muzadalfa where they will offer their Maghrib and Isha prayers and spend the whole night in prayers.
Meanwhile, the Saudi government has made foolproof security measures for the pilgrims. The pilgrims are expressing satisfaction over the Hajj arrangements made by the Saudi government. The Pakistani government has also made sufficient arrangements, including medical and transport facilities, for their pilgrims.
Read: Saudi Arabia warns against Hajj unrest as pilgrims pray for peace
This year’s Hajj is taking place in the backdrop of increased violence in the region addition to a crane collapse at the holy mosque that killed at least 109 people, and a widespread fear of a MERs virus outbreak. Threat from extremists has also pushed Saudi Arabia to raise security levels with around 100,000 police deployed.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2015.
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