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JEDDAH: The Hajj is an annual religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, performed every year by millions of Muslims around the world. It occurs during the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, named Dhul Hijjah, between the eighth and 13th day of the month.

This year, Hajj takes place around July 7 to July 12. Participating in the pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime is a major obligation for all able-bodied Muslims, regardless of their financial means, and between 2 and 3 million people participate in this six-day ritual every year.

One million pilgrims will visit the holy city this year, 85% of them coming from abroad for the first time after a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions that prevented them from performing rituals.

To ensure a smooth and safe journey for the pilgrims, the government has announced a series of entry requirements.

Pilgrims wishing to perform Haj must be below 65 years of age and must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a booster. They will also have to submit a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure for the state, and priority will be given to those who have never performed the ritual before.

Pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba and offer prayers at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage on July 6, 2022 (Photo, Reuters/Mohammed Salem).

Following the Prophet Muhammad, for fourteen centuries the pilgrims began their journey in a spiritual state of purity and devotion, also known as ihram, the combined sacred act of niyah and talabiyya required to perform the Hajj. Niyah is the instinctive intention to perform an act of worship, whereas talbiya is a special prayer in prayer to achieve ihram.

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After entering Mecca, pilgrims perform welcome tawaf, which involves walking seven times clockwise around the Kaaba, starting with a black stone. Then they go to the hills of Safa and Marwa, where they do sai, which involves going back and forth between the two hills seven times.

Pilgrims then travel to Mina, a 20 square kilometer area located about five kilometers from the Grand Mosque in Mecca, on the eighth day of Dhul Hijjah, also known as Yom al-Tarwiya, where they stop and spend their day. And the evenings are filled with prayers. Pray, rest and drink water before their long and dangerous journey.

On the second day of Hajj, pilgrims travel to Mount Arafat, 20 km away. The day is dedicated to prayer and prayer, with the Asr (afternoon) prayer followed by the Duhr (afternoon) prayer until sunset.

One million vaccinated Muslims, including 850,000 from abroad, have been admitted to this year’s Hajj, two years after a sharp drop in arrivals (Photo, AFP).

Arafat Day is considered the most important day for pilgrims and millions of people who do not perform Hajj. It is the day that “atones for the sins of the previous year and the next (Muslim) year” and is the best day for worship and prayer.

After sunset, pilgrims descend from Mount Arafat and go to Muzdalifa for the Isha (night) prayer, pick up pebbles no larger than a finger in size in anticipation of the stoning ceremony the next day, and rest until midnight or dawn. do when they start. The long journey to Mina for the final stages of Hajj, the stone-pelting ritual at Jamarat al-Aqaba.

On the third day of Hajj, Eid al-Adha, pilgrims stone the Jamarat al-Aqaba, or the Great Pillar, a site where the Prophet Ibrahim threw seven pebbles at Satan. After that, the pilgrims leave their ihram; The sacrificial animals are slaughtered, and the men cut their hair or shave their heads while the women cut a hair as small as the tip of a finger to commemorate the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.

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For three days, called Ayyam al-Tashriq, pilgrims stay in Mina and proceed to stone the other two pillars, al-Jamrah al-Wusta and al-Jamrah al-Sughra.

After years of preparation for this mass gathering, Saudi authorities draw up comprehensive plans each year to control the crowds, divide large numbers of pilgrims into groups and set specific times and routes to reach the bridge where pilgrims are located.column.

Saudi Scouts have the task of helping move elderly or disabled pilgrims between Mecca’s holy sites (photo, SPA).

Thousands of volunteers, military and health workers will be on the ground to assist the pilgrims, who see it as their duty for a Muslim to serve God’s guests on the holiest and most sacred journey.

Harnessing the power of technology, Saudi Hajj officials are again incorporating smart pilgrim ID cards this year to facilitate the transportation of ‘Visitors of Allah’ and ensure their timely arrival at their location and tent. , whether in Mina or Arafat. Robots equipped with touch screens are available to explain rituals in 11 languages.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with the General Authority of Awkaf, has launched 13 detailed electronic manuals providing guidance to pilgrims around the world on various subjects in 14 languages, including French, Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Russian and Amharic. , These manuals are compatible with all phone operating systems and can be found at guide.haj.gov.sa.

These electronic guidance manuals are interactive and include Sharia, Islamic law and procedural, organizational and health guidelines that the pilgrims will need during the Hajj pilgrimage,” the ministry described in a video shared on Twitter. ,

This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com

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