HomeHajjHajj 2024: Journey of a lifetime begins

Hajj 2024: Journey of a lifetime begins

*About 2m Muslims throng Muna, set for Arafat *Nigerian pilgrims arrive Tent-city

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The movement of about two million Muslims from Makkah to Muna, the tent city, outskirts of Makkah, Saudi Arabia has begun. In an ambience of spirituality, all adoring white seamless dress called Ihram, chanting the talbiyah, “Labbaik Allahumma labbaik. Labbaik la sharika laka labbaik. Innal-hamda wa-nimata laka wal-mulk, la sharika laka,” meaning: “I respond to your call O Allah! I respond to Your call. You have no partner. I respond to Your call. All praise, thanks and blessings are for You. All sovereignty is for You. And You have no partners with You),” the pilgrims will stay in Muna tonight for their onward journey to the plains of Arafat tomorrow at dawn.

As the Tardudiyyah day, the pilgrims will have to stay day and night in the tent city today before flocking to the plains of Arafat on Saturday, which marks the pinnacle of the annual pilgrimage of Hajj.

Muna, a valley surrounded by mountains, is situated about 5 miles or 8 kilometres in the east direction of Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. With regards to historic Islamic landmarks, the famous area of Mina is central to Hajj rites because pilgrims from all over the world spend the nights of the 8th, 11th and 12th Dhul Hijjah at Mina. Besides, Mina is also a significant symbol of Hajj, because it is close to Jamarat where the rites of stoning are done by all pilgrims.

Large chunk of the Nigerian contingent are already in the tent city. The movement started late Thursday evening through early hours of Friday. Top management of NAHCON officials had to wait to ensure no one is left in Makkah. Even those ailing pilgrims had to be ferried to Muna to continue their treatment. Saudi authorities and Hajj service providers have mobilized all their facilities and services featuring an integrated system of services, ambulances, and health service materials, food service among others to Muna to serve the needs of pilgrims during their stay at the tent-city.

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High temperatures challenge pilgrims

The temperature as of yesterday hovers around 45-46 degree Celsius. However, with the possibility of a rise in the temperature, especially during the standing at mount Arafat, NAHCON Makkah Coordinator, Dr. Tanko Aliu and also, the Commissioner for Operations. Prince Anofiu Elegushi warned Nigerian pilgrims to remain at their tents and never bordered to go to the mountain while in Arafat to avoid the scorching sun.

READ ALSO:Hajj 2024: Saudi Arabia launches world first pilotless air taxi for pilgrims

The duo emphasised that the provided tents are already within the plains of Arafat adding that about two million people cannot be at the mountain at the same time.

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Again, following the prediction of the country ‘s Meteorological department that the temperature may hover around 45 to 50 degree Celsius during hajj proper, pilgrims have been advised to always drink water and avoid the scorching sun as much as they could. It was predicted that the temperature might be an average temperature of 44 degrees Celsius and with pilgrims performing a series of rituals, sunstroke and heat stress can become quite common.

Movement of ailing pilgrims to Muna and Arafat

It was gathered that the authorities have concluded arrangements to move ailing pilgrims to the holy sites where they will continue their treatment. According to information gathered, in Madinah hospitals for example, the Ministry of Health convoy, already equipped with 24 ambulances, specialized medical team of professionals, including doctors, nurses, and paramedics, departed to transport 17 hospitalized pilgrims from various nationalities from Madinah hospitals to holy sites.

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This year marked the first involvement of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority in the convoy preparation, alongside King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Madinah, Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Hospital of the National Guard, Prince Sultan Armed Forces Hospital, and various private-sector hospitals.

Security and closure of borders

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Al-Bassami, director of Public Security and head of the Hajj Security Committee, confirmed that there are special forces deployed at all the entry points to Makkah and the Holy Sites to prevent those, who do not have a Hajj permit, from entering the holy city.

Also, the security forces are seen everywhere to check any breach of security and law and order and safety of the guests of God. Before the movement on Tuesday, Al-Bissami was quoted to have said: “The security of pilgrims is a red line, the security of the Holy Sites is a red line, and the security of the nation is a red line. The security forces will deal firmly with anyone who tries to undermine the security and safety of the pilgrims,” he said.

Meanwhile, as movement of pilgrims commenced yesterday, Thursday, through early morning of Friday, the Saudi authorities have shut the airport for pilgrims.

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