Hajj pilgrims pray for end to disputes, bloodshed in Muslim World

Hajj pilgrims pray for end to disputes, bloodshed in Muslim World
Tue Oct 15, 2013 09:03:07

Some 1.5 million Muslim pilgrims have thronged to Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia for the high point of the annual hajj, praying for an end to disputes and bloodshed.

Men, women and children from across the Muslim world flooded on Monday the streets leading up the mount chanting “Labaik Allahum Labaik” (I am responding to your call, God).

Many pilgrims had camped in small colorful tents and took shelter under trees to escape temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius. Special sprinklers were set up to ward off the heat.

The number of pilgrims is sharply down from last year, due to fears of the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus and to multibillion-dollar expansion work at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which will nearly double its capacity to around 2.2 million worshippers.

The number of pilgrims this year is almost 1.5 million, less than half of last year’s 3.2 million, following Riyadh’s decision to slash hajj quotas.

Many pilgrims said they were praying for peace in Muslim nations mired in sectarian and political strife.

“I will pray the whole day for God to improve the situation for Muslims worldwide and for an end to disputes and bloodshed in Arab countries,” 61-year-old Algerian pensioner Saeed Dherari said.

“I hope that God will grace all Muslims with security and stability,” said 75-year-old Ahmad Khader, who hails from the southern Syrian province of Dera’a.

The pilgrims started the hajj journey Sunday, moving out of the holy city of Mecca to nearby Mina, where most of them spent the night following the traditions of the Prophet Mohammad, who performed the rituals 14 centuries ago.

After praying on Mount Arafat, the faithful descended to Muzdalifah, where they were to spend the night before Tuesday’s symbolic stoning of the devil and celebration of Eid al-Adha.

BA/BA

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