Arafah, where muslims go to answer Prophet Ibrahims call

Over 2 million Muslims from all over the world started moving from Mecca towards Arafah on Saturday for Wuquf, which marks the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage rites.

Wuquf falls on Sunday, September 11 or 9 Dhul-Hijjah 1437, according to Islamic calendar.

On Monday, September 12 or 10 Dhul-Hijjah 1437, Muslims all over the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). Eid-ul-Adha is also known as the Greater Eid, which is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar after Eid-El-Fitr.

The festival commemorates the Prophet Ibrahims willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to. On that day, Muslims who can afford it, sacrifice a sheep (sometimes a goat) as a reminder of Ibrahims obedience to Allah.

Dhul-Hijjah is the final month in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims are urged to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, a spiritual journey to “answer the call of Prophet Ibrahim” as obliged by Allah.

The fifth pillar of Islam urges all Muslims to undertake a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in his/her lifetime. It is obligatory for every Muslim, regardless of gender, to make the pilgrimage if he/she is physically and financially capable of doing so.

The Day of Arafah is the day on which Muslim Hajj pilgrims gather on Mount Arafah, which is located some 20 kilometers southeast of Mecca, for Wuquf, which means standing before God, one of the most significant rites of Hajj.

Among more than two million Muslims gathering at Arafah, some 155,200 are Indonesian Muslims taking part in the regular Hajj scheme organized by the Indonesian government. There are also other Indonesian Muslims performing Hajj through non-regular schemes, or through other countries.

All regular Indonesian pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia in the last flight group: SOC 74, from Solo and landed at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah on Sept. 5.

“Alhamdulillah (Thank God), the SOC 74 group landed at 11:17 p.m. local time, with a total of 299 pilgrims and five officers,” Nurul Badruttamam from the Indonesian Hajj Organizing Committee stated in Mecca recently.

A total of 154,441 Indonesian pilgrims and 1,915 field officers have arrived in Saudi Arabia. They are part of 387 flight groups that had begun departing from several Indonesian airports on Aug. 9.

Their departures were divided into two stages, with the first stage covering 212 flight groups that all landed at the Amir Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Medina, and the second batch comprising 175 flight groups, which landed at the Jeddah airport.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, in his capacity as Amirul Hajj or the leader of the Indonesian Hajj pilgrim delegation, expressed hope that the weather in Saudi Arabia would be conducive during the “Wuquf” Hajj ritual, so that pilgrims are able to perform their Hajj program smoothly.

He said he had made sure that the organizers continued to undertake preparations for the peak Hajj rituals to be carried out on the plains of Arafah, Muzdalifah, and Mina.

Muassasah, the private company helping organize the Hajj pilgrimage, and which has been assigned by the Saudi government and Maktab, the accommodation organizers desk have worked in close coordination for the pilgrims comfort.

The minister expressed relief that that the dispatch of the last batch of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims had taken place without any major problems.

It was earlier reported that a total of 186,800 Indonesian Muslims are traveling to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage this year.

The Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry has sent a total of 3,250 officers, including paramedics, to help the countrys pilgrims during the pilgrimage season.

Up till Sept. 9, 82 Indonesian Muslims passed away during Hajj.

Indonesia is the worlds largest Muslim majority nation, with nearly 90 percent of its total population of over 250 million, being Muslims.

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims are currently on a waiting list of up to 25 years for making the Hajj pilgrimage, owing to the quota restrictions set by the Saudi government.

Earlier, when the ratio set by the Saudi government stood at one person per one thousand Muslims, Indonesias quota for Hajj pilgrims was 211 thousand, which was the largest among all countries.

However, the quota was reduced to 168.8 thousand people in 2013, due to the expansion works being undertaken at Masjidil Haram in Mecca.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), while holding a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabias Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, who is concurrently Defense Minister, on the sidelines of the 11th G-20 Summit, in China, on Sept. 4, had also informed the Prince about the long waiting list.

President Jokowi requested for an additional quota and for the possibility of using other countries unused quotas.

The Prince promised to assign Saudi Arabias Foreign Minister to deal with the problem of the Hajj quota for Indonesia.

Source: Antara News