Pilgrims move out of Makkah for pinnacle of haj

Sofea Chok Suat Ling

MAKKAH: The day pilgrims from all corners of the globe converged here have been looking forward to has arrived. Today is the start of the Masyair phase, what pilgrims and Tabung Haji (TH) personnel have been gearing themselves up to face since stepping onto the Holy Land. All Malaysian pilgrims started moving out of Makkah for Masyair, what promises to be the most challenging phase of the haj, today from 8.30am (local time). The transfer of 30,200 Malaysian pilgrims will take all day.


Pilgrims departing Makkah for Arafah with the start of the haj's Masyair phase. Photo by Sofea Chok Suat Ling

There will be three trips involving 22 buses per maktab, with the last bus expected to arrive in Arafah at night. Overall, there are 12 maktab for pilgrims occupying a total of 18 apartment buildings. This year, the buses left Makkah for Arafah earlier in the morning compared to previous years when pilgrims would start leaving only from 11am. The Tabung Haji (TH) advance team comprising 150 personnel left yesterday, also earlier compared to previous years. The new, cooler air-conditioned tents in Arafah has made this earlier arrangement possible this year. Though Arafah is only 20km southeast of here, the journey is a challenging one as close to three million other pilgrims from around the world will also be travelling there.


Pilgrims departing Makkah for Arafah with the start of the haj's Masyair phase. Photo by Sofea Chok Suat Ling

Masyair refers to the massive movement of pilgrims from Makkah to Arafah for wukuf, and then onwards to Muzdalifah, and Mina. Pilgrims will stay in tents overnight in Arafah and around three nights overall in Mina. Wukuf in Arafah represents the pinnacle of haj, a most auspicious day in Islam. Great efforts are made to ensure all, including the ill and elderly, make it for wukuf as failure to be present in Arafah tomorrow on the 9th of Zulhijjah will invalidate a pilgrim's haj. It is said that during wukuf or the Day of Arafah, the skies will open up and Allah will accept sincere prayers and repentance. From Arafah, pilgrims will move on to Muzdalifah tomorrow after maghrib prayers and stay there for half a night before moving on to Mina. In Muzdalifah, they will collect pebbles for the stoning ritual in Mina. All pilgrims are expected to arrive in Mina by 7am or 8am on Aug 21.


Pilgrims departing Makkah for Arafah with the start of the haj's Masyair phase. Photo by Sofea Chok Suat Ling

In Mina, the stoning ritual over four days will involve walking about 7.5km from their tents to the "jamarat" or pillars, and back.


Pilgrims departing Makkah for Arafah with the start of the haj's Masyair phase. Photo by Sofea Chok Suat Ling

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