By SIRAJ WAHAB & SYED FAISAL ALI | ARAB NEWS
MINA: The valley of Mina came alive as more than 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world converged on the tent city on their first stop to the plains of Arafat.
There was adequate security. Officers were out in full force to help the pilgrims and ensure their smooth movement.
The day is known as Yaum Al-Tarwiyah (Watering Day), as pilgrims traditionally watered their animals and stocked water for their trip to Arafat, some 10 kilometers further on.
Many pilgrims took buses, while others set off on foot for a valley that comes to life for just five days a year.
Around 1.8 million believers descended on Mina from around the world who will be joined by over 700,000 pilgrims from inside the Kingdom.
Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed once in a lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the expenses of the journey.
On reaching Mina, the first task of the pilgrims was to locate their tents. Once in their fireproof tents, they busied themselves in reciting the awe-inspiring talbiyah, “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, here I am answering Your call).
The thrill on their faces was self-explanatory.
“We reached Mina early in the morning,” said Abdul Raoof Contractor. “It was not much of a task…the traffic from Makkah into Mina was smooth.”
Accompanied by his son Aleem, the aged pilgrim said he wanted to walk all the way from Makkah to Mina. “But my son dissuaded me from doing that; he felt I should conserve my energies for challenging rituals ahead.”
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