Source : OnIslam / 02 Oct 2014
Millions of white-clad Muslim pilgrims have begun marching to Mina on the first leg of their journey of a lifetime, preparing for the climax of their pilgrimage when they ascend Mount `Arafat.
"We can't describe our feelings. We have been in the queue for three years,” Lateef Mohammad Jagirdar from Jaipur, Rajasthan, told Arab News on Thursday, October 2
“More than 360,000 had applied for Haj this year in India and only 136,000 were lucky to come here. We are among the lucky ones," added Jagirdar, who was performing hajj with his wife Shabana Begum.
Millions of pilgrims embarked on their slow and steady trek to Mina on Thursday in the first leg of their five-day journey.
Spirituality and peace were in the air in the sprawling tent city which is surrounded by (Mountain of Light) and other hills, as more pilgrims poured in with every hour, each group reverberating with chants of “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, here I am answering your call).
Once in their fireproof tents, masses of faithful, clad in the white ihram garb, busy themselves reciting the Noble Qur’an and praying.
Many try to catch some sleep -- after a tiring journey from Makkah that on average takes five hours – as they ready for the climax of their ultimate spiritual experience.
On Friday morning, the pilgrims will descend the Mount `Arafat where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered his last sermon more than 14 centuries ago.
The pilgrims then will return to Mina after spending the night in Muzdalifah.
They will take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba and sacrifice animals to mark the four-day `Eid Al-Adha, which starts Saturday.
Starting their life-dream hajj, pilgrims were over joyous.
"It is a beautiful feeling," Aziza Yousfy, 60, from Algeria, before leaving Makkah, told Agence France Presse (AFP).
Seeing Mina and Mount Arafat "has always been a dream for me," she said.
Sayed Tajamul Haq, 64, an Indian pilgrim walking with his wife, voiced hope that "God will accept our prayers for forgiveness and mercy", during an experience he described with a smile as "fantastic."
For Jagirdar, the pilgrim from Rajasthan, relatives and acquaintances have asked for special prayers in the sacred place.
"We have a long list of requests. We will beseech Allah from Mina and the plains of Arafat to answer our prayers," he said.
"We have come all the way from such a distant land to seek forgiveness and Allah's mercy."
"It is the love for our Prophet (peace be upon him) and our beautiful religion that has brought us to the holy land," said Jagirdar.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.