- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Haj pilgrims scale Mount Arafat
- Date: 6th November 2011
- Summary: MOUNT ARAFAT, SAUDI ARABIA (NOVEMBER 5, 2011) (REUTERS) PILGRIM CALLING ON GOD ON THE TOP OF THE MERCY MOUNTAIN AT THE ARAFAT AREA BIRDS FLYING OVER MOUNT OF ARAFAT VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS CALLING GOD FOR FORGIVENESS AT TOP OF THE MERCY MOUNTAIN AT SUN RISE VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS TOUCHING WHAT THEY BELIEVE A HOLY ROCK VARIOUS OF HAND OF PILGRIMS CALLING GOD FOR FORGIVENESS CLOSE OF PILGRIM FACE CALLING ON GOD FOR FORGIVENESS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED EGYPTIAN PILGRIM, SAYING: "The greatest thing in the world, we all hope from God to accept us and forgive us of our sins and have mercy on us all, this is what we want, we will not be taking with us in the afterlife anything, but the mercy of God." IRANIAN PILGRIM WOMEN WALKING TO THE TOP OF MOUNT ARAFAT (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN PILGRIM, SUAT OZTURK, SAYING: "It is a perfect place to make our prayers and ask God for forgiveness, and this is where prayers are accepted." PILGRIMS CALLING GOD FOR FORGIVENESS AT TOP OF MOUNT ARAFAT (SOUNDBITE) (English) TURKISH PILGRIM, SERVR, SAYING: "We are here asking for the mercy of Allah, and as you see here from different countries, different people, different colours, we are coming here to unite." VARIOUS OF PILGRIM CALLING ON GOD VARIOUS OF PILGRIM AND HIS SON READING FROM A BOOK PILGRIM CALLING ON GOD (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED LIBYAN PILGRIM, COMING FROM THE FAMILIES OF LIBYAN MARTYRS CAMP, SAYING: "Some youths say they will not put down their weapons until all the Arab countries are included in the Arab spring, Syria and Yemen, it is possible that the youth in Libya will participate there, willing to take up arms and go to support their brothers in Syria." CLOSE OF PILGRIM CALLING ALLAH CLOSE OF PILGRIM WOMAN CALLING ON GOD FOR FORGIVENESS PILGRIMS GOING UP MOUNT ARAFAT HELICOPTER FLYING OVER ARAFAT AND MERCY MOUNTAIN AFRICAN WOMAN CALLING GOD MAN CALLING GOD FOR FORGIVENESS AND CRYING VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS ON ARAFAT MOUNTAIN (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PILGRIM GROUP LEADER, SHOUTING IN LOUD SPEAKER, SAYING: "Our God, we are asking you for the safety and security of the people of Tunisia, and the people of Egypt and the people of Syria and Yemen and Libya." VARIOUS OF SWATHES OF PILGRIMS NEAR MOUNT ARAFAT
- Embargoed: 21st November 2011 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVADYN0F8DN8JLT8IG98TVOLKA4A
- Story Text: Muslims making the annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia climb Mount Arafat -- also known as Mount Mercy -- where the Prophet Mohammed is said to have delivered his last sermon.
Over two million pilgrims gathered around Mount Arafat on Saturday (November 5) to beg for God's forgiveness and cleanse themselves of their sins, on the second official day of the annual haj pilgrimage, one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion.
Pilgrims flocked mostly on foot to the Arafat region of Saudi Arabia, a rocky outcrop in a dusty plain a few kilometers away from Mecca, to pray until sunset.
On Friday (November 4), the first official day of the haj, all pilgrims were expected to start their journey to Mina -- a small village east of Mecca -- where they spent the day worshipping before heading to Arafat.
Worshippers will later travel to an open plain called Muzdalifa, between Arafat and Mina, to collect pebbles which they will throw at pillars representing Satan, on the last day of the pilgrimage, celebrated with the Eid al-Adha holiday on Sunday (November 6).
As one of Islam's five pillars, the haj is enjoined on all Muslims who are physically able to carry it out, Among the rites they must perform during the three-day pilgrimage, hajis must walk seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the centre of the Grand Mosque, pray at nearby Mount Arafat and ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three walls.
This month, the pilgrims will have full access to a $1.8 billion railway, which was launched at only 30 percent of its capacity last year, to ease pilgrim transport between holy sites around Mecca.
Although haj starts on the eighth day of the lunar month of Dhul Hijja, which fell this year on Friday, Nov. 4, most pilgrims come earlier to visit the holy mosques in Mecca and nearby Medina, where the prophet Muhammad was buried over 1,400 years ago.
Saudi authorities have spent freely to avoid any repeat of the deadly incidents which marred haj seasons in the past such as fires, hotel collapses, police clashes with protesters and stampedes.
Home to Islam's holiest sites, Saudi Arabia regards itself as the guardian of Islam and assumes the responsibility of maintaining a peaceful haj season when Muslims from various sects gather at the same place and time.
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