Hajj 2024: Millions of Devout Muslims, Including 160,000 Pakistanis, Embark on Spiritual Journey

The sacred city of Makkah is brimming with anticipation as the annual Hajj pilgrimage commences today. The serene valley of Mina is preparing to welcome an estimated 2.5 million faithful pilgrims from across the globe, including a significant contingent of 160,000 from Pakistan.

The Hajj pilgrimage is a profound demonstration of Islamic unity, with believers of diverse backgrounds converging in one place to perform rites dating back to the Prophet Ibrahim. This year, the pilgrimage is set against the backdrop of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, adding a layer of complexity and emotion to the event

The Hajj, a spiritual journey that culminates in the joyous celebration of Eidul Azha, officially begins today with the solemn act of donning the Ihram, a white robe worn upon crossing the outer boundaries of Makkah known as Miqat. This marks the start of a series of rituals that follow the path of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

Pilgrims have been gathering in Makkah for nearly a month, with over 1.5 million already in Saudi Arabia, and more expected to join the local Saudis. The journey to Mina, a distance of 8.1 kilometers, commences on the eve of the 7th and 8th of Zilhaj. This day, known as Tarwiyyah Day, is spent in prayer and reflection.

The pivotal leg of the journey begins at dawn on the 9th of Zilhaj, with the Hajj sermon delivered from Masjid al-Nimra on the plains of Arafat. As the sun sets, the pilgrims depart Arafat for Muzdalifah, where they engage in Maghrib and Isha prayers, and collect pebbles for the ritual of Rami.

The Day of Sacrifice, the 10th of Zilhaj, sees pilgrims offering sacrifices. Over the next three days, the Rami ritual continues, with pilgrims casting seven pebbles on the first day and 21 on each subsequent day. This is followed by the trimming or shaving of their hair, symbolizing spiritual renewal and rebirth.

The climax of the Hajj journey unfolds on the 12th of Zilhaj, as pilgrims embark on a sacred pilgrimage to Makkah to fulfill the rites of Tawaf al-Ifadah and Sa’ai of Safa and Marwah. These rituals, integral to the Hajj, follow the completion of key acts.

Comparatively, the number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed 2 million, more than twice the number of pilgrims in the previous year, which was around 900,000. This increase marks a significant recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had severely restricted the number of pilgrims in 2022.

Despite the challenges posed by the global situation, the Saudi government remains committed to providing a smooth and safe Hajj experience. The efforts put into improving the infrastructure in Mina and other key Hajj sites reflect this commitment.

This year’s Hajj coincides with the hot Saudi summer, with officials predicting average highs of 44 degrees Celsius. Saudi officials are implementing measures such as misting systems and heat-reflective road coverings to aid the pilgrims in coping with the heat.

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