ASHajj pilgrims throng the Grand Mosque to perform the farewell Tawaf in Makkah after completing the stoning ritual on the third day of Tashreeq, the less than one million pilgrims are bid to begin their outbound journey to their various countries.
The Tawaf Al-Wida, or farewell Tawaf, is performed before a pilgrim departs from Makkah and is an obligatory Hajj ritual.
A few days ago, the Saudi authorities released a total of 899,353 pilgrims from all over the world performed the rites. The event was which was described as successful lingers as beautiful memories and strengthened faith for many pilgrims.
The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health in a quick post-mortem, announced there have been no outbreaks of any disease that could affect public health during this Hajj. It also confirmed that its Hajj plans were operated smoothly and safely.
Some pilgrims who expressed their joy to Facing Kaaba after completing the fifth pillar of Islam said it was a special favour from Allah giving gratitude to Him.
A pilgrim from Oyo State said: “I am happy that got the call, it is a divine call because many paid but we’re not chosen. I was chosen among the 43,008 from Nigeria and also from the small fraction of it allocated to Oyo State. So, for me, it is a divine call and I give gratitude to Allah.” Sanni Rafiat ’said.
Also a 64 year old man, AbdulAzeez Adeleke Oremeji from Lagos state said: “Apart from the weather which is said to be 43 degree, I am really enjoying myself and glorifying Allah for the opportunity. ”
The Arafat gathering
Just last Friday, all the pilgrims gathered at the plains of Arafat, about 20 Kilometers from Makkah for the core Hajj rite.
The exercise was the climax of hajj, a moment of intense worship, a special day when supplication to Allah is believed to be answered and a day of spiritual renewal, even those at home engage in fasting and other acts of devotion.
As a result, many were seen raising their hands high in solemn requests while several other were move to tears in solemn communication to God at the desert valley of Arafat where Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.
The Muslims who had arrived Saudi Arabia earlier, had passed the night at Mina to ease the their presence at the mount Ararat at dawn on Friday. They remain there until nightfall in deep contemplation and worship.
The men for three to four days will be clad in unstitched sheets of white cloth, more like a shroud, while women are allowed to dress conservatively with hijab showing only their faces.
Health and safety measures
Saudi authorities mounted a massive operation to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims. The Saudi Health Ministry prepared 23 hospitals and 147 health centres in Makkah and Madinah, the second-holiest city in Islam, to accommodate pilgrims.
Four hospitals and 26 health centers are also ready to treat pilgrims in Mina. This is apart from what each country will provide for its pilgrims. Nigeria has several hundreds of health workers, volunteers and ambulances on ground at Arafat to attend to the medical need of pilgrims.
It was gathered that the Saudi Authorities provided more than 1,000 beds for patients in Makkah and the tented sites requiring intensive care and more than 200 specifically for heatstroke patients, and more than 25,000 health workers are also ready to respond to cases as they arise.
Again, hundreds of trained male and female volunteers focus their efforts on ensuring pilgrims’ safety, with thousands of medical supplies such as oxygen bags and emergency first aid kits on hand.
At each tent in Mina andd Arafat, hundreds of mist fans operate on an automated system to cool the tents and every minute were seen sheltering worshipers from the sun’s rays and the heat which has remained between 43 and 44 degree centigrade throughout the Hajj period.
Saudi security authorities, health workers, and many other government and private sector agencies ensured this Hajj season was a success by providing services to pilgrims and helping them perform their rituals with ease and comfort.
Unlike the Masjid Al Harram, both in Makkah and Madinah, Zamzam water were everywhere, but hardly seen in the Masha’ir which are Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
The water is believed in Islam as a holy water which source is in Makkah close to the Kaaba. One of its miracle is that the well has never run dry after several thousands of years it was caused to exist by God to satisfy the thirst of little Ismail and his mother.
Every pilgrim is entitled to five liters of it to take back home.
Stoning the devil
However, after sunset on Friday, the pilgrims were conveyed to the rocky desert of Muzdalifah, about 5.5 kilometres from Arafat. The pilgrims picked 49 pebbles to carry out the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamarat. Seven pebbles will be thrown at the Jamarat Aqabah on the first day while the second and third day will 21 pebbles pelted at each of the three symbolic devils by each pilgrims. Although the act is symbolic, since It is believed that the devil tried to talk Ibrahim out of submitting to God’s will; it also signify overcoming the temptation of the devil.
Before now, the ritual is notorious for surging crowds and stampede. In 2016, thousands of pilgrims died in a stampede. Saudi authorities in their effort to improve free access, it had changed the arrangement of stoning which comes with permits and time allocation. Also, pilgrims can now enter through special electronic gates which admit a specific number of pilgrims at a time.
Slaughtering of animal for recompense
On the second day of Arafat after returning from throwing the first seven pebbles at the Jamarat-l-Aqabah, each pilgrim slaughtered a ram as required. The sacrifice is connected to ihram, and may be made up for by fasting. It is different from the one slaughtered at home for Eid. It is usually done by proxy as pilgrims are busy doing managing the time of the day to complete the rites. Pilgrims then moved to shave their heads, while women only need to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal and then exit ihram – change to normal clothings.
Most pilgrims completed their Hajj on Monday after performing the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina and then carrying out the final ritual of Tawaf Al-Wida’ at the Grand Mosque in Makkah