Muslim Pilgrims head to Mount Arafat

Hudu Yakubu, Mecca

Muslims around the globe will on Sunday commemorate the Day of Arafat, considered the most important day of hajj during which pilgrims gather on the desert plains of Arafat, near Mecca, to pray.

About 1.8 million pilgrims are expected descend on the site of Mount Arafat for this year’s occasion.

The day falls on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, and it is an integral part of the pilgrimage of hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.

Hajj officially began on Saturday, on the 8th day of Dhul Hijjah, when pilgrims from all over the world began travelling from the holy city of Mecca to Mina, which is roughly eight kilometers away.

On Sunday, after the dawn prayers in Mina, the pilgrims will start their journey to Arafat, about 14 kilometers away.

The Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarter in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Mohammed Nuru Khalid says many Muslims believed that the Day of Arafat is a day when one’s sins can be forgiven. The Prophet Mohammed said: “It expiates the sins of the previous year and that of the following year.

“Arafat represents the essence of hajj. For the entire day, pilgrims are to spend hours in the vicinity of the mountain, praying and repenting.

If one pilgrim misses Arafat, there is nothing you can do to repair your hajj. Arafat is so vital that missing it invalidates hajj altogether. So, from the perspective of those making hajj, it is the most important pillar,” Imam Mohammed Nuru Khalid said.

Khalid said it is highly recommended to those who are not performing hajj that they observe a fast on this day.

“For those who are not making hajj, it is a day on which special rewards are given to those who fast. It gives the ability for those who fast sincerely to purify minor sins of the past year and the coming year. This is the most value-loaded day of fasting throughout the whole Islamic year, Khalid added.

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