Standing in prayer valid anywhere in Arafat

Fri, 2014-10-03 03:00

A large number of pilgrims climb Jabal Al-Rahma in Arafat to pray standing on the mount, following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is the most famous place in Arafat after the Namira Mosque. Located between the seventh and eighth roads east of Arafat, Jabal Al-Rahma is 300 meters long and seven meters high. Some pilgrims wrongly believe that their Haj would not be complete without standing on this mount. During his farewell sermon, the Prophet said: “I stood here and all other places in Arafat are valid for the stand in prayer ritual” during the peak of the pilgrimage.

Human rights
Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Human Rights Commission, has called on Muslims to get inspired from the message of Haj as well as from the last sermon of the Prophet (pbuh) that contained important principles for the protection of human rights. “What was mentioned in the last sermon represents the first comprehensive document for human rights,” Al-Aiban said. “We have to follow the Prophet’s instructions in that speech including protection of women, respect for blood and honor and fulfillment of trust.”

Sacrificial meat
The Kingdom’s Sacrificial Meat Utilization Project, which is managed by the Islamic Development Bank, enables pilgrims to perform their sacrifices easily during Haj and make use of the meat of sacrificial animals. Since its inception in 1983, the project has utilized and distributed meat of more than 17 million livestock among the poor in Saudi Arabia and 27 other countries. IDB is offering Adhahi coupons this year for SR490 ($131 or 98 euros), which could be purchased from Saudi Post offices,  Al-Rajhi Bank branches,  Al-Amoudi Foreign Exchange, the Association of Charity Gift for Pilgrims, and the Way for Retail Techniques Company.

Violators fined
The Passport Department has imposed fines worth SR6.6 million on violators during this Haj season. It also detained them for a total of 900 days and impounded 31 vehicles, an official statement said Thursday. On Wednesday alone it took punitive action against 40 Saudis and four expatriates for not carrying Haj permits. “The administrative panel will continue its meetings to make spot decisions on violators of Haj regulations,” it added.


Source: Islam

Arafat: Merits of the day

Arab News
Fri, 2014-10-03 03:00

Allah the Almighty preferred some months to others, some days to others and some nights to others and selected specific times in the year to be seasons of worship and righteous deeds, and in these blessed times the reward for righteous deeds is multiplied and sins are forgiven. One of these blessed times is the Day of Arafat which is the 9th of the month of Dul-Hijjah (the 12th lunar month in the Islamic calendar).
As pilgrims gather in Arafat today for their most important ritual, it is worthwhile to talk about the merits of this blessed day and what we should do on this day to get the great reward from Allah.
The Day of Arafat is one of the days of the month of Dul-Hijjah, which is one of the four sacred months in the Islamic calendar. Allah the Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an: “Verily, the number of the months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred.” (Qur’an, 9:36)
The four sacred months in the Islamic calendar are Dul Qada, Dul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab, and they are the 11th, 12th, 1st and 7th months respectively.
The Day of Arafat is a day in one of the months of Haj as Allah The Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an: “Haj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months” (2:197). The months of Haj (pilgrimage) are Shawwal, Dul Qada and Dul Hijjah.
The Day of Arafat is one of the well-known days that Allah the Almighty praised in the Noble Qur’an: “That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the Name of Allah on appointed days.” (Qur’an, 22:28)
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that those appointed days are the first 10 days of the month of Dul Hijjah.
The Day of Arafat is one of the ten days that Allah The Almighty swore by in the Noble Qur’an, Allah The Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an:” By the ten nights” (Al-Fajr: 2). Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the ten nights mean the first ten days of the month of Dul Hijjah.
The Day of Arafat is one of first ten days of the month of Dul Hijjah, and these 10 days are the best days ever in the whole year as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “No other days, in which righteous deeds are beloved by Allah, are better than these days. The Prophet’s companions asked: “Are they even better than jihad in the cause of Allah?” The Prophet replied: ‘Yes, they are, except a man who takes his properties and goes out for jihad and sacrifices his soul and properties for the sake of Allah.”
The day of Arafat is one of the first nine days of the month of Dul Hijjah on which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged us to observe fasting, and some of the prophet’s wives narrated that he used to observe fasting during the first nine days of the month of Dul Hijjah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also urged us to observe fasting on the day of Arafat in particular, and when he was asked about fasting on the day of Arafat, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Fasting on the day of Arafat is an expiation for the sins committed in the previous year and the sins will be committed in the next year.” Yet, for those who are performing Haj, they are not recommended to observe fasting on the Day of Arafat.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also urged us to supplicate to Allah on the Day of Arafat as he said: “The best supplication is the supplication on the Day of Arafat.” This of course manifests the great status of the Day of Arafat.
The aforementioned are some of the merits of the day of Arafat. We ask Allah The Almighty to assist us all to avail of the great opportunity of the day of Arafat, forgive our sins and guide us all to his right path.


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Source: Islam

Haj exemplifies equality before God

Ahmad Al-Akhras
Fri, 2014-10-03 03:00

Every year, Muslims from all over the world take part in the largest gathering on Earth, the Haj, or pilgrimage to Makkah.
The Haj is a religious obligation that every Muslim must fulfill, if financially and physically able, at least once in his or her lifetime.
During these historic days, white, brown and black people, rich and poor, kings and peasants, men and women, old and young will all stand before God; all brothers and sisters, at the holiest of shrines in the center of the Muslim world, where all will call upon God to accept their good deeds and forgive them. These days represent the zenith of every Muslim’s lifetime.
The Haj resembles the re-enactment of the experiences of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), whose selfless sacrifice has no parallel in the history of humankind.
The Haj symbolizes the lessons taught by the final Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who stood on the plain of Arafat, proclaimed the completion of his mission and announced the proclamation of God: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam, or submission to God, as your religion.” (Qur’an, 5:3)
This great annual convention of faith demonstrates the concept of equality of mankind, the most profound message of Islam, which allows no superiority on the basis of race, gender or social status. The only preference in the eyes of God is piety as stated in the Qur’an: “The best amongst you in the eyes of God is most righteous.”
During the days of the Haj, Muslims dress in the same simple way, observe the same regulations and say the same prayers at the same time in the same manner, for the same end. There is no royalty and aristocracy, but humility and devotion. These times confirm the commitment of Muslims, all Muslims, to God. It affirms their readiness to leave the material interest for his sake.
The Haj is a reminder of the Grand Assembly on the Day of Judgment when people will stand equal before God waiting for their final destiny, and as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances, but he scans your hearts and looks into your deeds.”
The Qur’an states these ideals really nicely (Qur’an, 49:13): “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other)). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
While Malcolm X was in Makkah performing his pilgrimage, he wrote to his assistants: “They asked me what about the Haj had impressed me the most… I said, ‘The brotherhood! The people of all races, colors, from all over the world coming together as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God.’ All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the oneness of man under one God.”
This is what the Haj is all about.


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Source: Islam

Rituals performed by Haj pilgrims

Agence France Presse
Thu, 2014-10-02 22:47

MAKKAH: Close to 1.4 million foreign pilgrims have arrived in Makkah for the annual Haj, which all physically and financially able Muslims are required to perform once in their life.

The rituals of the Haj are as follows:

• Ihram: a state in which pilgrims wear special outfits, two-piece white seamless garments for men and any loose dress for women, who must completely cover themselves except for their hands and faces.
Niqab (a face covering that only reveals the eyes) is prohibited.
Sex is forbidden during Ihram and pilgrims must refrain from quarrelling, covering the head (for men), cutting hair, clipping nails, wearing socks or shoes, except for sandals exposing the instep.
“I am answering your call, God,” every pilgrim chants.

• Once in Makkah, pilgrims perform Tawaf, or circumambulation, seven times counter-clockwise around the Kaaba, a black masonry cubic shape in the middle of the Haram, or sacred site, in whose direction Muslims pray wherever they are in the world.
The Kaaba was first built as a “sacred house” in Makkah by Adam, the father of the human race, according to the Islamic faith. The Qur’an says Abraham (or Ibrahim) and his son Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba.
Each circle starts and ends at the Black Stone, also known as the cornerstone, at the southern corner of the Kaaba. Pilgrims should point their palms to the stone saying: “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest).

• Walking back and forth between the two stone spots of Safa and Marwah seven times, an act known as Sa’i. The distance between them is just under 400 meters (437 yards). Pilgrims are emulating Hagar, the second wife of Ibrahim according to Islam, who was desperately seeking water for her infant Ishmael.

The preceding rituals are considered the Umra, or lesser pilgrimage, made ahead of the Haj’s main rites.

• The main rites of the Haj start on the 8th of Dhul Hijja and end on the 13th (this year October 2-7). Pilgrims head to Mina, around five kilometers (three miles) east of the holy mosque, on the first day of Haj known as Tarwiah (watering) Day. Pilgrims traditionally watered their animals and stocked water for their trip to Mount Arafat, about 10 kilometers southeast of Mina.

• Arafat Day, on the 9th of Dhul Hijja, (October 3) is the climax of the Haj season as all pilgrims gather on the hill known as Mount Arafat and its surrounding plain. Pilgrims stay at Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad (peace bu upon him) is believed to have delivered his final Haj sermon, until the evening. They spend the day reciting from the Qur’an and praying.

• After sunset on the 9th of Dhul Hijja, pilgrims leave for Muzdalifah, half-way between Arafat and Mina, where they stay at least until midnight. They gather pebbles to perform the symbolic “stoning of the devil.”

• After dawn prayer on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, or the Eid Al-Adha feast, pilgrims head back to Mina. The first of three stoning rites, known as Jamarat Al-Aqabah, begins after sunrise. Traditionally, seven pebbles are thrown at a post representing the devil. Since 2004, it has been replaced by walls to accommodate the rising numbers of pilgrims.
The ritual is an emulation of Abraham’s stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade the biblical patriarch from obeying God’s order to sacrifice Ishmael.

• After the first stoning, pilgrims offer sacrifices by slaughtering a sheep and the meat is distributed to needy Muslims. This rite also emulates the actions of Abraham. He prepared to sacrifice his son Ishmael on the order of God, who provided a lamb in the boy’s place at the last moment.
Pilgrims no longer carry out this rite themselves. They instead pay agencies which distribute meat to needy Muslims around the world.

• Men then shave their heads or trim their hair while women cut a fingertip-length of their hair. Afer that they can end their Ihram and change back to their usual clothing.
Sex remains prohibited.
Pilgrims then return to the Grand Mosque in Makkah, perform Tawaf Al-Efadha, circumambulating seven times around the Kaaba, then perform Sa’i, moving seven times between Safa and Marwah.
With that, pilgrims end their Ihram.


Source: Islam

French convert who drove 7,000 km for Umrah now king’s guest for Haj

Thu, 2014-10-02 03:27

A French pilgrim who recently converted to Islam and drove 7,000 km in his car with his wife to perform Umrah is now in Makkah as the guest of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for Haj.
Alexander embraced Islam and adopted his Muslim name, Hamza, after six years of search for the truth. It was the “adan,” or the call to prayer, which he heard for the first time while he was in an African country that changed his life.
“It inspired me to search for the truth. It gave me an inexplicable feeling that spread throughout my body and I stood astounded for a long time. I am very happy to have had embraced the world’s great religion,” he said.
After becoming a Muslim, his first intention was to visit Makkah to perform Umrah and it was then that Hamza set out on a journey by land and crossed 7,000 km from Morocco to Mauritania, and then Burkina Faso, reaching Niger.
“I visited the Saudi Embassy in Niger to get an Umrah visa. They informed me that the visa should be issued in advance through an agent. Embassy officials, however, promised to help me,” he said.
Hamza and his wife eagerly awaited the Umrah visa in Niger. “We prayed to God every day for our dream to come true and we had full confidence that the Almighty would help us to pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.”
When the issue took a long time, the two decided to return to France.
“We packed everything and took a taxi to the airport. While we were on the way, we received a call from the Saudi Embassy in Niger saying that we have been selected as one of 1,000 guest pilgrims of King Abdullah to perform Haj this year. I could not believe my ears.”
He said: “All our difficulties and problems faded away when we saw the House of God. I cried and cried standing in front of the Kaaba and thanked Allah and King Abdullah for giving me this great opportunity.”
Hamza intends to study Islamic law to gain more knowledge about the religion and spread its message among others.
He thanked the Saudi Embassy in Niger for providing assistance to him and his wife. He also commended the Saudi government for carrying out massive projects in Makkah and other holy sites for the welfare of pilgrims.

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Source: Islam