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Old 16-11-2010, 09:29 AM
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Post All hands go up in prayer

All hands go up in prayer NAIF MASRAHI

Tuesday, 16 November 2010




HOLY SITES: Millions of pilgrims gathered Sunday on the plains of Arafat in a sea of white unadorned clothing to mark the high point of Haj. It was a moving scene as the faithful supplicated their Lord for mercy and forgiveness at the largest annual global gathering of Muslims.

It was a glorious day of sunshine as the pilgrims prepared to travel in the evening to Muzdalifah to spend part, or the entire night in the area, as was the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They will pick up small stones to use in the stoning of the devil ritual at Al-Jamarat Bridge and then move on to Makkah for circumambulation of the Holy Ka’ba and the movement between Safa and Marwa hillocks.

The three days of Eid Al-Adha begins Nov. 16 and ends on Nov. 18.

The Haj has so far been without any major health or safety incidents. It is taking place under the supervision of Prince Naif, Second Deputy Premier, Interior Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, who has been tasked this year to oversee Haj arrangements because King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is recovering from a slipped disc. Prince Naif is currently at the holy sites.

Arafat successful
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah, Chairman of the Central Haj Committee and President of the High Transport Control Authority of Pilgrims, announced late Monday that movement of pilgrims to and from Arafat had taken place successfully and without any incident.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Prince Khaled said that the standing of pilgrims on Arafat was completed in peace and security. He also praised King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan and Prince Naif for making the day a success. He said there were no reports of major security, traffic or health incidents.

Grand Mufti’s speech
At the Nimrah Mosque at Arafat Monday afternoon, Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Aal Al-Sheikh, delivered the sermon before the combined and shortened noon and afternoon prayers.

The Grand Mufti said Allah had graced humans with many blessings and honors above that of other creatures on earth. He said Muslims believe in God Almighty and His messengers, and that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last of all prophets.

He said that Islam was given to humankind as a grace from Allah and a counter to Satan.

He explained that Islam provides a Muslim with a complete way of life, including how to worship, conduct transactions, live as a family and behave ethically.

He said there are clear forms of worship, which includes the five daily compulsory prayers, Zakat, fasting in the holy month of Ramadan and performing Haj.

Historic train run
It was a historic day for the Kingdom as the Mashair Train became operational for the first time at 1:30 A.M. Monday. Pilgrims used the train to travel from Mina to Arafat. The movement of the pilgrims was orderly and took place without any incident.

Chinese workers could be seen using different color flags to indicate various functions. A red flag was used to indicate that the train had stopped, a green one indicating that it was going to move, and a yellow one to indicate maintenance.

Egyptian train operators from Cairo Metro, who had undergone an eight-day training course, were operating the train.

An official from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Haj Research Center was registering the number of pilgrims using the train every five minutes.

Engineer Sameer Al-Thoubaity, a leader of the center’s team, said that their job was also to get responses from the pilgrims using the train. They are using a Global Positioning System to monitor the movement of the train. The center has also installed cameras at stations to monitor the movement of pilgrims. Mohammad Al-Harthi, a Saudi student, said he was privileged to work at the stations guiding pilgrims.

Pilgrims responded positively to the new service. And although there were earlier reports that only Saudi and Gulf country pilgrims would use the train in its first phase, it appeared pilgrims from Pakistan and Canada were able to do so.

Mohammad Ali, a Pakistani pilgrim, said that the train will help pilgrims to move easier at the holy sites and that it will save time and reduce the numbers of cars.
Majdi Abu Sarea Najem, an Egyptian pilgrim, said, “It is a wonderful project that will help pilgrims perform their Haj easily using modern technologies.”

The SR6.5 billion train project is only operating at 35 percent capacity at the moment. When completed it will be able to transport 70,000 pilgrims an hour and drastically reduce traffic congestion. It will eventually be linked to Makkah.

– SPA/Saudi Gazette
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