Muslim pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat as hajj reaches apex

TEHRAN, Jul. 08 (MNA) – Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims from around the world raised their hands to heaven and offered prayers of repentance on the sacred hill of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Multitudes stood shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, for the emotional day of supplication in the desert valley where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon, calling for equality and unity among Muslims, NPR reported.

The experience sent many pilgrims to tears. Muslims believe prayer on this day at Mount Arafat, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the holy city of Mecca, is their best chance at salvation and spiritual renewal. The pilgrims set out for Arafat before dawn, chanting as they trekked. They remain there until nightfall in deep contemplation and worship.

Pilgrims spend five days carrying out a set of rituals associated with the Prophet Muhammad and the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael, before him.

The rituals began on Thursday with the circling of the Kaaba, the black cube in the center of Mecca's Grand Mosque, which Muslims around the world face during their daily prayers wherever they are in the world.

Around sunset on Friday, the pilgrims will march or take a bus 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) west to the rocky desert of Muzdalifa, where they comb the area for pebbles to carry out the symbolic stoning of the devil. That rite will take place on Saturday in the small village of Mina, where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk Ibrahim out of submitting to God's will.


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