RIYADH – More than two million Muslims headed to Mount Arafat in extreme heat and humidity on Saturday for the main ritual of Hajj.
A total of 2,096,023 pilgrims began to gather at dawn near the Mount, located to the east of Mecca, according to figures by Arabia Saudi’s General Authority for Statistics.
Arafat is where the prophet Mohamed is believed to have delivered his last sermon, according to the Islamic tradition.
Muslim scholar and the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah said during his sermon that Hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars, requirements that all adherents of the religion must perform in their lives.
“The Hajj season (is not) a platform to achieve political objectives, partisan goals, national strife, sectarian fanaticism or personal purposes,” he said, according to the state-run news agency SPA.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah helped to transport pilgrims from Mecca and assists those who want to ascend Mount Arafat, located 20 km from the holy city for Muslims.
The temperature in Mecca is expected to reach 40 degrees with 80 percent humidity.
At sunset, the pilgrims will move to the Muzdalifa area, where they will spend the night and then will collect and throw pebbles at three walls in Mecca’s Mina district, the three walls in Islamic tradition represent the devil.
This ritual is performed on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), which lasts for four days and is marked in all Muslim countries.
All Muslims are expected to do the pilgrimage provided they are fit enough and have the financial means to do so.