More Than Two Million Muslims Gather For The Largest Hajj Gathering in History
Enormous crowds of pilgrims have gathered in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, with officials anticipating this year’s event to break attendance records. Over two million Muslims from more than 160 countries have flocked to the ancient city to partake in the sacred rituals despite the scorching heat of the Saudi Arabian summer.
Massive Turnout Expected
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah expressed that this year’s Hajj is poised to be the largest Islamic gathering in history. After a limited gathering in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pilgrims surged to nearly 59,000 in 2021. However, this year’s attendance marks a dramatic increase compared to the previous year, with more than two million individuals expected to participate.
Spiritual Journey and Rites
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, requiring all Muslims who are financially and physically able to undertake the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. The faithful don white robes and sandals as they embark on a spiritual journey that involves circling the Holy Kaaba, praying on Mount Arafat, and symbolically stoning the devil by throwing pebbles at three concrete walls representing Satan.
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Saudi Arabia has significantly improved its infrastructure to facilitate the movement of pilgrims. Jeddah’s modernized airport has streamlined visa services, allowing travelers to quickly proceed from the planes to buses that transport them to their accommodations. Approximately 24,000 buses and 17 trains capable of carrying 72,000 people per hour will be in service to cater to the influx of pilgrims.
Inclusion and Diversity
This year’s Hajj holds special significance as it is the first time since 2021 that women are not required to be accompanied by male guardians. Furthermore, the age limit for participation has been removed, allowing thousands of elderly individuals to partake in the pilgrimage. These changes highlight Saudi Arabia’s commitment to inclusivity and ensuring that people from all walks of life can perform the Hajj.
Challenges and Precautions
The Hajj’s timing follows the lunar calendar, placing the pilgrimage in the sweltering Saudi Arabian summer. Health authorities are prepared to address heat-related risks, with temperatures expected to reach 44 degrees Celsius. More than 32,000 health workers will assist and mitigate heatstroke, dehydration, and exhaustion among the pilgrims.
The Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca has drawn an unprecedented number of participants this year, surpassing the limitations imposed by the pandemic. With over two million pilgrims from various countries gathering to fulfill their religious obligations, the annual event showcases the diversity and unity of the Muslim community. Despite the challenges posed by the heat, Saudi Arabia has made extensive preparations to ensure the well-being of the pilgrims. The Hajj remains a significant source of spiritual fulfillment and economic growth for the country, contributing to its ongoing efforts to diversify its economy and expand its tourism sector.
Sapphire Builders and Associates extend their heartfelt wishes to all pilgrims embarking on their sacred Hajj journey. The Hajj pilgrimage holds immense significance, symbolizing unity, humility, and unwavering devotion to Allah. It brings together Muslims from diverse backgrounds, who join in performing the sacred rituals, seeking forgiveness and spiritual purification. In this auspicious time of the year, let us all pledge to unite our efforts in the path of Allah. May Allah graciously accept the Hajj of every pilgrim and shower His blessings upon them all.