RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

As pilgrims made their way to Mount Arafat at the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage on Monday, the preacher of Masjid al-Haram in Mecca reminded Muslims to strive for stability, and to resist sedition, corruption, and terrorism, according to the Saudi news agency SPA.
“The Islamic Shariah commands kindness, and it is kindness to strive for the safety of people and the stability of the country … and to obey those in authority as long as they don’t disobey God, and to abandon what leads to sedition, fosters terrorism, and preventing corruption ,” Sheikh Bandar Balila said in his sermon to the pilgrims.

He also called on Muslims to be kind to each other and to non-Muslims, noting that acts of charity are not limited to financial help but also include “kindness in words and receiving and greeting people well.”

After spending a night of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina — the first leg of the five-day Hajj – Muslim pilgrims, dressed in white garment that emphasizes the unity regardless of social status or nationality, set out for Mount Arafat early morning.

Pilgrims are expected to spend the entire day on the Arafat plateau while praying continuously and asking God for forgiveness and mercy.

Saudi Arabia is allowing 60,000 fully vaccinated residents to take part in this year’s Hajj.

Saudi authorities tasked over 500 workers to serve the pilgrims as they perform the initial tawaf, circling around Kaaba upon entering the mosque premises.

This year’s Hajj is larger than the scaled back version of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic but significantly smaller compared to normal times.

Last year, Saudi authorities limited the Hajj to 10,000 Muslims due to the pandemic.

In 2019, around 2.4 million pilgrims performed Hajj, according to official estimates.

The Hajj, the pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site Kaaba in the city of Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to perform it at least once in their life if they have the means to do so.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

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