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Hajj News: Hajj help at hand for the disabled

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  • Zafar Khan
    Hajj help at hand for the disabled The story of Abdul Azeez from Mecca, a wheelchair-pusher during Hajj and Umrah season.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 21, 2010
      Hajj help at hand for the disabled
      The story of Abdul Azeez from Mecca, a wheelchair-pusher during Hajj and Umrah season.


      Broken promises for Hajj Pakistanis
      Pilgrims happy to be in Mecca but saddened by the treatment they received from their own government.
      Last Modified: 19 Nov 2010 10:31 GMT


      Between piety and consumerism
      Hotels and shopping malls in Mecca are a temptation at a time Muslims are expected to forgo life's luxuries.
      Last Modified: 18 Nov 2010 04:55 GMT


      From all corners of the world, Muslims gather annually to perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca wearing simple white cloth, leaving behind the comforts of their homes for a brief period.

      By forgoing their lifestyles, their only focus is to pray to God as his humble servant and ask for his forgiveness and mercy.

      However, with the change of times the surroundings of the Grand Mosque have changed with the appearance of five-star luxury hotels and shopping malls.

      These malls offer the material items people crave to have at a time when Muslims are expected to forgo life's luxuries and pleasures.

      But in the modern 21st century, few can ignore the need for consumer items, regardless of the location.

      Sohail Rahman reports from Mecca.

      Hajj streamlines ritual slaughter
      Saudi authorities are saying that little of the 750,00 animals sacrificed at the Hajj will go to waste.
      Last Modified: 17 Nov 2010 17:51 GMT


      All pilgrims are equal but some are more equal than others
      By Imran Garda in
      Middle East
      on November 17th, 2010.


      Part two: All pilgrims are equal but some are more equal than others
      By Imran Garda in
      Middle East
      on November 19th, 2010.


      No room for terrorism in Islam: Haj sermon Tuesday, 16 November 2010 03:17


      MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh, called on worshippers in a midday sermon to espouse moderation and said Islam would survive what he described as attempts to defame the faith.

      Delivering the Haj sermon at Namira Mosque at Mount Arafat, he said Allah Almighty endowed us with hosts of blessings and boons; guidance of Islam is one of them, adding Islam is not a theoretical religion; instead, it is a practicable code of conduct.

      Al Sheikh said Islam is based on justice and equity, which admits of no terrorism, extremis and injustice.

      “Islam will remain strong in the face of the vicious campaign that is attacking it,” he said. “Muslims, the dearest thing you have is your religion and your belief. ... Be proud of your religion; don’t ever be ashamed of identifying our religion.”

      He said Islam impresses upon its followers to take better care of their families and societies.

      Islam forbids markup altogether and prohibits extravagance, as it is a religion of moderation, he said. Grand Mufti stressed Islam intensely condemns terrorism and extremism, and that it warns strict punishment for those who unjustifiably spill blood and spread mischief on earth.

      Sending divine revelations and raising the Prophets was meant for spending the message of Allah’s oneness; and this succession of guidance for human being is in progress, he said.

      He said Allah sent the Last and final Prophet with complete code of conduct and this (Shariah) is in harmony with human nature, as it caters to all man’s natural and material needs. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh said Allah Almighty conferred men with reason and consciousness so that he can differentiate between good and bad. We should respect each other.

      As they began their climb from the tent-city in the valley, many of the pilgrims ascending Mount Arafat looked tired from a lack of sleep, having spent the entire night praying. Charities and vendors along the way handed out food and umbrellas to shield the climbers from the harsh sun.

      One of the pilgrims, Wassim Ahmad, from Mumbai, India, said this was his first hajj and that he felt like a child reborn.

      “Today is like judgment day,” said the 29-year-old. “We have come to pray to God. ... A new child has been born.”Alone and obviously on her first hajj, 46-year-old Egyptian Umm Sayed kept asking people for directions. “There is nothing greater than feeling that you are going to meet God,” she said. “The whole body shivers.”

      Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa are the three stops on the pilgrims’ journey during the Haj, as worshippers trace the steps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

      The Haj draws millions of worshippers each year, the sheer numbers a challenge in preventing stampedes at holy sites, fires in pilgrim encampments and the spread of disease.

      This year Saudi authorities have taken new measures to improve crowd management, including opening a new light-rail system to transport pilgrims between the sites.

      Yesterday evening, the crowds head to the next stage of the pilgrimage in Muzdalifa, where they collect pebbles to use in the symbolic stoning of the devil the next day. The first day of stoning also marks the start of the Islamic holiday of Eid Al Adha, meaning “Feast of Sacrifice,” when Muslims around the world slaughter sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son. The stoning lasts three days.

      Hajj rituals test Saudi Arabian authorities
      Overcrowding and congestion as pilgrims camp out in desolate location


      While more than a billion Muslims around the world celebrated Eid today, those gathered in the Al-Masha'er district of Saudi Arabia proceeded with their hajj rituals – throwing pebbles at vast pillars, shaving their heads and sacrificing animals.

      Shaving the head, or halq, is a fundamental act for all male pilgrims during the pilgrimage: Muhammad is said to have prayed three times for men who removed all their hair and only once for those who trimmed it.

      The slaughter of an animal – qurbani – marks Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at Allah's command. The ministry of hajj proudly announced earlier this month that more than 100,000 Somali sheep were on hand to cover the high demand for sacrificial animals, adding to the 400,000 waiting in Jeddah and the extra million already being imported.

      The casting of stones sees pilgrims re-enact Abraham's rejection of the devil. According to Islamic tradition the prophet was on his way to sacrifice his son Ishmael at Allah's request when he was tempted by the devil on three occasions. Each time the prophet threw stones to drive him away. Hajj authorities have deployed 360 coolers and tent fabric to protect pilgrims from the suns rays. There are also misting fans and spraying tubes.

      Today's exertions come hard on the heels of an unforgiving overnight regime. Pilgrims last night camped out in Muzadalifa, a desolate place but for washrooms, open-air barbecues and mobile phone stands. They slept on plastic or cotton sheeting, some had blankets to cover them – although many did not – and they were surrounded by piles of discarded food, packaging and footwear. They left just before dawn prayer.

      In addition to being stepped on – or over – by other pilgrims making their way through the dark, campers in Muzdalifa also ran the risk of being hit by the many coaches and cars parked in the area. There was at least one serious accident last night on the Al-Jawhara road as pilgrims and vehicles struggled for supremacy on the road.

      Overcrowding and congestion continues to test the authorities. The Saudi department of civil defence sent text messages to mobile phone users this morning, urging them to stay away from the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

      British Muslims join the pilgrims at a record-breaking hajj
      Some 25,000 visitors from the UK join the millions pouring into Arafat to spend the day in prayer


      The luck of the draw
      The road to Hajj begins with a draw for India's 154 million Muslims.
      Road to Hajj Last Modified: 15 Nov 2010 10:10 GMT


      Muslims gather in Makkah for the Hajj
      Monday, 15 November 2010


      Nearly three million Muslims have gathered for the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

      The white-robed pilgrims began their ascent of the Mountain of Mercy at Arafat at dawn today.

      The climb at Arafat is one of the cornerstones of the pilgrimage that is required from every able-bodied Muslim at least once in their lifetime.

      It is the site where Islam's Prophet Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon. Muslims believe on this day the doors of heavens open to answer prayers and grant forgiveness.

      Saudi authorities have taken new measures to improve crowd management at this hajj - including launching a new light-rail system to transport pilgrims between the shrines.

      Sacrificial goat - with mint sauce
      By Sohail Rahman in
      Middle East
      on November 15th, 2010.


      Mecca makeover: how the hajj has become big business for Saudi Arabia
      • Country's religious tourism industry booming
      • New luxury hotels prove huge draw for pilgrims


      Pedalling to the pilgrimage
      Two South Africans face thousands of kilometres of unchartered territory as they journey to Mecca for Hajj - by bicycle.
      Malika Bilal in Mecca Last Modified: 14 Nov 2010 09:02 GMT



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