- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Pilgrims ascend Mecca's Mountain of Light ahead of Haj pilgrimage
- Date: 24th October 2012
- Summary: VIEW OF MECCA CITY FROM HALF-WAY UP THE MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS CLIMBING/DESCENDING MOUNTAIN MAN SELLING SOUVENIRS ON THE WAY UP TO THE CAVE OF HIRA CLOSE OF ROSARIES VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS GATHERING AROUND ENTRANCE TO THE CAVE OF HIRA PILGRIM RAISING HIS HANDS IN PRAYER WIDE OF MECCA CLOCK PILGRIMS AT ENTRANCE OF CAVE OF HIRA VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS PRAYING IN CAVE OF HIRA VARIOUS VIEW OF MECCA FROM MOUNTAIN (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HUSSEIN BURJI, LEBANESE PILGRIM, SAYING: "We have put all our efforts and all our strength and all our faith in to climbing this high distance so that we can be blessed by this blessed place." PILGRIMS SAY PRAYER IN UNISON MORE OF MECCA CITY PILGRIM CALLING FOR PRAYER ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT PILGRIMS PRAYING AT TOP OF MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT, FACING THE GRAND MOSQUE VIEW OF THE GRAND MOSQUE VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS PRAYING SKY AT DUSK PILGRIMS ENDING PRAYERS MECCA CITY WOMAN'S HANDS RAISED IN PRAYER VARIOUS OF MECCA CLOCK TOWER SKY AT DUSK CRESCENT MOON PILGRIMS WALKING DOWN MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT / SINGING RELIGIOUS SONG
- Embargoed: 8th November 2012 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVABYDN7OAJQLUZZ6LCC61Y2AXOD
- Story Text: As hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia to perform their Haj pilgrimage, many of them are taking time to visit historic Islamic sites.
The Mountain of Light stands tall overlooking the holy city of Mecca. In the mountain is the Cave of Hira, a place Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed used to go to seek refuge.
It is in this cave that Muslims believe the Prophet was visited by the Angel Gabriel, and where the Koranic revelations then began to take place.
Despite the height of the mountain and its narrow steps, pilgrims young and old make the journey to the cave, following in the Prophet Mohammed's footsteps.
For Mohammed Gaye, a pilgrim who has come to Mecca all the way from Senegal, the trip would not be complete without climbing the Mountain of Light.
"If I come here to Mecca, I don't want to go back to my country without climbing up this mountain. It's very difficult by insha'Allah (God willing) I will try to go there," he told Reuters Television.
Hassanin Abu Rahma, an Egyptian pilgrim, was intent on replicating the experience of the Prophet Mohammad, eager to find out for himself what the journey up the mountain must have been like.
"I went up so I could see the effort that the Prophet made, how he spent time here worshipping and praying and how much effort it took for him to reach this place," said Abu Rahma.
"I insisted on reaching and I was tired when I reached -- the Prophet did not have the stairs that we have used -- I've been coming up for two hours, using stairs and I insisted that I reach the spot that the Prophet did and thanks to God, I reached," he added.
Others, taking on the task of the mountain climb, hoped and prayed that their efforts will be rewarded with blessings from above.
"We have put all our efforts and all our strength and all our faith in to climbing this high distance so that we can be blessed by this blessed place," said Hussein Burji from Lebanon, surrounded by enthusiastic friends.
Once the pilgrims made their ascension, many of them were keen to enter the cave and offer prayers.
The cave itself is estimated to be around 4 yards wide and 1.75 yards deep.
The initial revelation is believed to have happened during the holy month of Ramadan, on a night known as the Night of Power in the Koran.
The thousands of faithful attending the Haj will also make their journey to the Mountain of Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or the Mountain of Mercy.
Last year nearly 3 million pilgrims performed the Haj, with roughly a third from inside Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities said there have so far been 1.7 million arrivals from abroad and about 200,000 from inside Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday (October 24) is the first official day of the pilgrimage, with Muslims following a set form of rites laid out by the Prophet and culminating on Friday (October 26) with the Feast of the Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, a holiday across the Islamic world.
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