Have you ever wondered why many Muslims who have gone to Mecca over 10 times will still want to go again despite the economic hardship? Do you know that many rich Nigerians send people to go and pray for them at Mountain Arafat yearly? Do you want to know why Muslim faithful will never joke with Mountain Arafat in their journey to Hajj?
If yes, we need to fill you in on the significance of Mountain Arafat to many Muslims faithful who observe compulsory pilgrimage yearly. We also need to tell you why many Nigeria politicians will make sure they observe this year’s Mecca and be at Mountain Arafat to pray for re-election.
Let us give you a clearer picture of 2 prominent Nigerians when they both spoke about the significance of Mountain Arafat. This was disclosed by Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the “Olowo-Eko“ himself. He once revealed that when he went for Hadji before he became the king with Former I.G, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, while forrmer I.G was praying at Moutain Arafat that he wanted to become I.G of Nigeria Police, the only thing he prayed for at Mount Arafat was to become the King of Lagos and all came to pass.
Perhaps we should tell you about Mountain Arafat. Mount Arafat or Mount Arafah (Arabic: transliterated Jabal ‘Arafat) is a granite hill east of Mecca in the plain land of Arafat. Arafat is a plain about 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Mecca. Mount Arafat reaches about 70 m (230 ft) in height and is also known as the Mount of Mercy (Jabal ar-Rahmah). According to Islamic tradition, the hill is the place where the Islamic prophet Muhammed stood and delivered the Farewell Sermon to the Muslims who had accompanied him for the Hajj towards the end of his life. Muslims also say that it is also the place where the Adam and Eve reunited on earth after falling from Heaven. It is the place where Adam was forgiven, hence it is also known as Jabl-ar-Rahmah (the Mount of Mercy). A pillar is erected to show the place where the aforementioned took place.
On the 9th of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah pilgrims go to Arafat from Mina, for the most important part of the Hajj. The Khutbah of Hajj is narrated and Zuhr prayer and Asr prayers are prayed together. The pilgrims spend the whole day on the mountain to supplicate to Allah to forgive their sins and to pray for personal strength in the future.
Millions or more Muslim pilgrims brave scorching heat outside Mecca to pray for forgiveness in the final stage of the annual hajj pilgrimage – the world’s biggest religious gathering.
Pilgrims in traditional white garb spend the day at Arafat, reading the Qur’an, praying and chanting: “Here I am in answer to Thy call, Lord, here I am. There is no other God but Thee. Praise be Unto Thee.”
At sunset they came down the mountain and moved to Muzdalifa to collect pebbles to stone a set of walls in a ritual that represents defiance of the devil and commitment to resisting temptation. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day festival of Eid al-Adha (feast of the sacrifice), starting the next day after Arafat.
Mount Arafat, at the centre of the plains of Mina, was the scene of the Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon 1,377 years ago. The hajj is the fifth “pillar” of Islam and it is the duty of every able-bodied Muslim to perform it at least once in a lifetime.
In recent years the Saudi authorities have carried out extensive renovation work to ease the flow of pilgrims at the Grand Mosque and the Jamarat bridge, where the stoning ritual takes place.
Muslim pilgrims from around the world gathered before dawn in the valley of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia for a day of prayer that marks the pinnacle of the annual hajj pilgrimage.
Some two million pilgrims packed shoulder to shoulder for an emotional day of repentance and supplication. Many wept as they raised their hands toward the sky, asking for forgiveness and praying for loved ones.
It was on this day some 1,400 years ago that Islam’s Prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon from Mount Arafat during the hajj, calling for equality and for Muslims to unite.
Throughout the day, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims scaled the hill and prayed facing the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure in Mecca that observant Muslims around the world face in prayer five times a day.
Muslims believe prayer on this day at Mount Arafat, about 20 kilometres east of Mecca, is their best chance to erase past sins and start anew.
Islam requires that all able-bodied Muslims perform the hajj once in their lives. While following a route the Prophet Mohammed once walked, the rites are believed to ultimately trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they are named in the Bible.The five-day hajj began with the shedding of symbols of materialism – men donned white terry-cloth garments meant to symbolize humility and equality while women give up makeup and perfume, covering their heads and wearing loose-fitting clothing.As every year, for many pilgrims it is their first time to travel outside their country, having spent years saving for what for most is an expensive pilgrimage.Once back home, they will be referred to in their communities with the respectful title of “hajji” for having completed the pilgrimage.The hajj is the largest gathering of Muslims worldwide, drawing people from different social classes and religious sects, with Sunnis and Shiites praying side by side.
The day spent at Mount Arafat is one of the few times during the hajj that all pilgrims are in the same location at the same time – and is often described as the most moving experience of the hajj.
“This is the place where the prophet … had his last hajj all the way from Mecca to here. We are following his footsteps,” said Abdul Halim Yusuf-Ali, a 21 year-old Islamic studies student from Kenya.
Before arriving at Mount Arafat, pilgrims circled the Kaaba. Next, they traced the path of Hagar, the wife of the Prophet Abraham, who Muslims believe ran between two hills seven times searching for water for her dying son. Tradition holds that God then brought forth a spring that runs to this day, and Muslims drink from it during the hajj.The hajj is physically demanding and involves walking long distances, so those with disabilities and the elderly are often pushed in wheelchairs.
ABIOLA ORISILE with additional information from Wikipedia (08052160270)