Muslim pilgrims converge on Mount Arafat for holiest day of Hajj | Religion News

Muslims from around the world have converged on a sacred hill near Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the holiest day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health.

Thousands of pilgrims walked to the mount, located about 20km (12 miles) southeast of Mecca, through the predawn darkness. On the slopes of the rocky hill and the surrounding area, many raised their hands in worship with tears streaming down their faces.

“For sure it is something great. It is the best day for Muslims during the year, and the best feeling that anyone can experience,” Hussein Mohammed, an Egyptian pilgrim, said as he stood on the rocky slopes at dawn. “It is the best place for anyone hoping to be [here] on this day and at this moment.”

It is believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on Earth. The rituals officially started on Friday when pilgrims moved from Mecca’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.

This year’s pilgrimage is taking place against the harrowing backdrop of Israel’s continued onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

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