By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS
JEDDAH: Many of the 2.5 million pilgrims, who are expected to perform Haj this year, will leave for the Mina valley, located five km east of Makkah, on Thursday evening at the start of the annual pilgrimage. The rest of them will proceed to the tent city Friday.
Saudi Arabia has completed all preparations for the largest Muslim gathering by mobilizing all its resources to ensure the welfare and security of pilgrims. Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, inspected the Haj arrangements on Tuesday.
More than 1.8 million pilgrims have so far arrived from different parts of the Islamic world to take part in the Haj, the fifth pillar of Islam, which every Muslim who is financially and physically fit must perform once in life. They will be joined by more than 500,000 pilgrims from the Kingdom including expatriates.
The majority of the faithful who are performing Haj for the first time are immensely happy for having gotten the rare opportunity. They repeat the religious slogan: “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, we are here in response to your call).
“I have got an opportunity to come for Haj after waiting several years, during that period I have dreamed many times about performing Haj and touching the Holy Kaaba,” said Jan Khan Qayoom, a Pakistani, while praising the Saudi government for making excellent arrangements for the pilgrimage.
Jamariya Rahman of Indonesia said she was extremely happy when she saw the Holy Kaaba for the first time. “I could not control my tears of joy,” she said and thanked God for realizing her dream to pray in the Grand Mosque of Makkah. She commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s services to Islam and Muslims. “We all love him and pray for his long life.”
Sudanese Qassim Munawar was all praise for the massive arrangements the Saudi government has made for the annual event, saying it has made pilgrims happy and helped them concentrate on worship and meditation in peace and tranquility.