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Mount Arafat’s Masked Haj Pilgrims pray for a COVID-free world.

ARAFAT (Saudi Arabia), July 19, (Reuters) – Thousands of face-masked Muslims gathered at Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat Monday to pray for a quick and effective vaccination. It was just as the annual haj pilgrimage reached its climax.
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest places in Mecca, Medina, and Mecca has banned worshippers from outside the country for the second consecutive year. It also restricted entry within the kingdom to protect against coronaviruses and other variants.
Only 60,000 Saudi residents and citizens, aged 18-65, who have been fully vaccinated, or have recovered from the disease, were chosen for the rite. It is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for any non-disabled Muslim who has the means to pay it.
“It is an incredible feeling to be selected from millions of others to attend the haj. “I pray that God will end these terrible times that the entire world has been through because of the coronavirus,” Um Ahmed, a Palestinian pilgrim living in Riyadh, said. She said she had lost four relatives to the virus.

Pilgrims sat on prayer mats two meters apart at Namira Mosque. Some shed tears, while others raised both their hands in the middle of noon.
Karimullah Al-Sheikh from India said that he was praying for his nation, which has experienced an increase in infections, and everyone to be vaccinated quickly.

Hafiz Kadiku, an American living in Saudi Arabia, stated that he had more significant wishes. “There is so much racism… I ask Allah to love everyone.
Over two million pilgrims covered the Arafat mound in the past, sitting together in the heart of Mecca’s desert city. They carried umbrellas and fans to keep their cool.

Pilgrims wore white robes to symbolize purity and observed social distancing. They also wore face masks at Mount Arafat. This hill is where Islam holds God tested Abraham’s faith by ordering him to sacrifice his son Ismail and where Prophet Mohammad delivered his last sermon.

Sheikh Bandar Balila delivered the Arafat sermon at the haj’s most significant rite. He praised the efforts made by Saudi authorities to ensure safety and keep the gathering from becoming the focus of the pandemic.
The main haj sites are located a few kilometers east of Mecca at Arafat, Mina, and Muzdalifa.
Pilgrims leave Mount Arafat on Tuesday to make their way to Muzdalifa, where they will celebrate Eid al-Adha or the feast of sacrifice. They gather stones to throw at the stone columns that represent the devil.

“The first prayer is asking God to lift this plague, this curse, and this grief for all mankind, so that in the next year they can attend haj, and for millions of people to refill these holy places,” stated Maher Baroody, a Syrian pilgrim.

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