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Pilgrims scale Mount Arafat for peak of hajj in Saudi

This was the scene today as two million Muslims from around the world began gathering at Mount Arafat for the highlight of the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia dedicated to prayers and reflection.

Helicopters flew around the area as the faithful converged from dawn on the surrounding Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma – or Mount of Mercy – near Mecca.

Dressed in white, the pilgrims could be seen climbing up the sides of the hill and taking up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun.

Two million Muslims from around the world began gathering on Mount Arafat today for the highlight of the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia dedicated to prayers and reflection

Dressed in white, the pilgrims could be seen climbing up the sides of the hill and taking up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun

Dressed in white, the pilgrims could be seen climbing up the sides of the hill and taking up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun

Helicopters flew around the area as the faithful converged from dawn on the surrounding Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma - or Mount of Mercy

Helicopters flew around the area as the faithful converged from dawn on the surrounding Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma – or Mount of Mercy

Mass gathering: Muslim worshippers pray during the Hajj pilgrimage outside Namrah Mosque in Arafat, near Mecca

Mass gathering: Muslim worshippers pray during the Hajj pilgrimage outside Namrah Mosque in Arafat, near Mecca

Around 2.6 million muslim are expected to attend this year's Hajj pilgrimage, which is highlighted by the Day of Arafah, one day prior to Eid al-Adha

Around 2.6 million muslim are expected to attend this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, which is highlighted by the Day of Arafah, one day prior to Eid al-Adha

On the concrete pathways linking the plain to the hill, they invoked God as they walked with their palms facing the sky.

Others rested in makeshift tents or on sheets along the side of the road amid empty bottles and waste.

The second day of the hajj, a must for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it, is dedicated to prayer and reflection.

The second day of the hajj - a five-day pilgrimage which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if physically and financially able - is dedicated to prayer and reflection

The second day of the hajj – a five-day pilgrimage which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if physically and financially able – is dedicated to prayer and reflection

With temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) under the desert sun, the faithful climbed the hill east of Mecca where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon some 14 centuries ago

With temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) under the desert sun, the faithful climbed the hill east of Mecca where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon some 14 centuries ago

The second day of the hajj, a must for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it, is dedicated to prayer and reflection

The second day of the hajj, a must for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it, is dedicated to prayer and reflection

Arafat is the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage

Arafat is the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage

On the concrete pathways linking the plain to the hill, they invoked God as they walked with their palms facing the sky

On the concrete pathways linking the plain to the hill, they invoked God as they walked with their palms facing the sky

Pilgrimage: It was still not even 10am and temperatures were already over 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit)

Pilgrimage: It was still not even 10am and temperatures were already over 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit)

A Muslim worshipper takes selfies using his mobile phone during the Hajj pilgrimage on Mount Arafat, near Mecca, Saudi Arabia

A Muslim worshipper takes selfies using his mobile phone during the Hajj pilgrimage on Mount Arafat, near Mecca, Saudi Arabia

WHY MUSLIMS FLOCK TO ‘MOUNT OF MERCY’

Mount Arafat is the spot where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have given his final sermon more than 1,400 years ago.

Worshippers flock to the Mount of Mercy each year in what is seen as the peak of the hajj pilgrimage, in an effort to start anew, erase past sins and beg God for forgiveness and guidance.

In his sermon, the prophet called on followers to repay their debts, beware of Satan, perform five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan and give to charity. 

He also called on those with the means to perform the hajj once in a lifetime.

He also reminded worshippers of the rights that women have, and said that no ethnic group or race has superiority over another except in piety and good action.

Arafat is the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage. 

‘I went up last night and prayed, taking pictures and calling my family and friends,’ said Maia, 32-year-old from Jakarta.

Noura Sulieman, a pilgrim from the Philippines, said she’d been to the hajj many times before and was here again to pray for her family.

‘I came here to Arafat to pray for my family, for my daughter, and my son, and all my family, and all the Philippines Muslims, and all Muslims in all countries,’ she said. ‘God willing, Allah will accept our pilgrimage.’

It was still not even 10am and temperatures were already over 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).

In a hospital opposite the mountain, an area was set aside for people who suffer in the heat.

‘We have deployed 326 ambulances on the pilgrimage route so they can take care of the sick very quickly,’ said Meshal Alanazi of the Red Crescent.

In the evening, the pilgrims will travel to Muzdalifa where they will stay the night before taking part in a symbolic stoning of the devil.

The ritual at the Jamarat Bridge was the scene of a stampede in 2015 that claimed the lives of 2,300 pilgrims – the worst disaster in the history of the hajj.

In the evening, the pilgrims will travel to Muzdalifa where they will stay the night before taking part in a symbolic stoning of the devil

In the evening, the pilgrims will travel to Muzdalifa where they will stay the night before taking part in a symbolic stoning of the devil

Saudi security control the traffic of the Muslim pilgrims' arrival at Arafat for the annual hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Authorities have deployed more than 100,000 security forces to secure the hajj and assist pilgrims

Saudi security control the traffic of the Muslim pilgrims’ arrival at Arafat for the annual hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Authorities have deployed more than 100,000 security forces to secure the hajj and assist pilgrims

A Muslim worshipper reads the Koran during the Hajj pilgrimage on the Mount Arafat. Around 2.6 million Muslims are expected to attend this year's pilgrimage

A Muslim worshipper reads the Koran during the Hajj pilgrimage on the Mount Arafat. Around 2.6 million Muslims are expected to attend this year’s pilgrimage

Ascent: The kingdom has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe at this year's hajj, according to the interior ministry

Ascent: The kingdom has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe at this year’s hajj, according to the interior ministry

A pilgrim reads on the Jabal Al Rahma holy mountain, or the mountain of forgiveness, at Arafat for the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage

A pilgrim reads on the Jabal Al Rahma holy mountain, or the mountain of forgiveness, at Arafat for the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage

Offering prayers: Muslim worshippers set off early in the morning to scale the mountain close to Mecca in Saudi Arabia

Offering prayers: Muslim worshippers set off early in the morning to scale the mountain close to Mecca in Saudi Arabia

At the foot of Mount Arafat, mobile barriers have been installed to control the movement of the crowds.

‘They will be moved to enlarge the passages when there are more pilgrims,’ said Ahmed al-Baraka of the Saudi security forces.

The movement of such a large and diverse crowd of people in a short period of time in limited spaces is a logistical challenge for the Saudi government. 

Authorities have deployed more than 100,000 security forces to secure the hajj and assist pilgrims. Additional doctors, nurses, ambulances and mobile health centers are also deployed in the areas of hajj. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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