Hajj comes to a close as pilgrims complete rituals

Guests of God euphoric over superb services


By Hassan Cheruppa

Saudi Gazette

Pilgrims started leaving Makkah on Sunday evening after completing this year’s exceptional Hajj pilgrimage. They had left earlier the tent city of Mina after completing the stoning ritual for Makkah to perform Tawaf Al-Wida (farewell circumambulation) to mark the end of the pilgrimage.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette, several pilgrims expressed their joy and delight for getting a golden opportunity and the divine blessing to be among the limited number of the Guests of God in the smoothest ever annual pilgrimage held amid strict coronavirus pandemic protocols.

They lauded the extraordinary efforts made by the government of Saudi Arabia, headed by Custodian of the Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, especially the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and all the agencies involved in the pilgrimage for the services that helped them perform their rituals in ease and comfort. They asked God to accept their Hajj and reward all those who contributed to the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims started the stoning ritual this afternoon in an orderly and peaceful way in strict compliance of the coronavirus protocols. They stoned seven pebbles first at Jamrat Al-Sugra, then at Jamrat Al-Wusta, and finally at Jamrat Al-Aqba in a ritual emulating Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade him from obeying God’s order to sacrifice his son, Ismail.

The ritual is the renunciation of evil in all its forms and a promise never to fall prey to the machinations and intrigues of Satan, the cursed. Although the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, concludes officially on Monday, the third day of Tashreeq (Ayyam Al-Tashreeq), pilgrims are allowed to leave a day earlier. All the pilgrims of this year’s Hajj, who are the guests of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, took advantage of the concession to leave a day earlier.

A huge contingent of security forces and Civil Defense personnel as well as health workers were seen at various points at the mammoth state-of-the-art Jamarat complex, to oversee the smooth conduct of the stoning ritual. After reaching their accommodation at Mina residential towers, pilgrims packed their baggage and boarded buses that took them to Makkah to perform farewell Tawaf.

Most pilgrims will leave Makkah on Sunday while some pilgrims from remote regions of the Kingdom would stay back for some time depending on the schedule of their departure flight.

Despite forecasts of inclement weather and rain on Arafat Day, Hajj pilgrimage was not marred by bad weather.

The General Authority of Meteorology and Environment Protection warned of moderate to heavy rains accompanied by sandstorms in Makkah and the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah on Sunday, saying that the climatic situation would continue until 11:00 p.m.

The pilgrims were seen in a euphoric mood after completing their lifetime spiritual journey. “It was an inexplicable spiritual experience, praise be to God firstly, and then profound thanks to the superb arrangements and excellent services offered by the authorities,” said Abdul Majeed Al-Suhaimi, a citizen from Madinah. Al-Suhaimi was among pilgrims who reached Makkah from Mina to perform the farewell Tawaf, the last ritual of the pilgrimage, before the departure to his native city of Madinah.

Al-Suhaimi told Saudi Gazette that all the facilities and services offered to the pilgrims were perfect in all senses of the word. “The services of officials of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Ministry of Health and other agencies as well as security personnel were excellent and were beyond any description.

It seemed that all of them were competing with each other in offering the best ever services possible to the guests of God,” he said, noting that there were equal services for both citizens and expatriates in A to Z details of the Hajj operation.

Both Al-Suhaimi and Abdul Haseeb, an Indian pilgrim, were among 16 pilgrims who boarded a bus that took them to Makkah Haram from Mina after Asr prayer. Both got the opportunity to perform their first Hajj after having recovered from the pandemic.

The lifetime journey was a memorable and wonderful spiritual experience, according to Abdul Haseeb. “Praise be to God for answering my earnest prayer and enabling me to perform Hajj this year. Though I applied for Hajj, I found my name on the waiting list.”

The arrangements and services offered by the authorities were fantabulous in all aspects, including transportation, accommodation and food,” he said, noting that they did not offer slaughtering of animals in the capacity of performing Hajj Al-Ifrad (performing only Hajj without Umrah in the months of Hajj).

Somayya El-Arabawi, a Tunisian pilgrim, said she had no words to describe her feelings for getting an opportunity to perform this year’s unprecedented Hajj. “It is a great blessing that I was among a limited number of pilgrims when millions of pilgrims from all corners of the globe did not get the opportunity to carry out their lifetime journey because of the pandemic situation.

Mazen Jamaa from Syria, Zakaria from Bosnia, and Basheerullah Muntajuddin from Bangladesh were among the pilgrims who shared their ecstatic feelings for the great blessing of God to be His guests this year and thanked the Saudi authorities for the smooth conduct of a hassle-free Hajj.