A sea of white-robed pilgrims from all around the globe began the first leg of their spiritual journey of hajj on Wednesday, October 24, moving to the plain of Arafat on which pilgrims gather from dawn till sunset on the plain of Arafaat outside Mecca, to spent the time in prayer and supplications for obtaining the proper cognizance of God Almighty, in the footsteps of the prophets of the past, especially the father of the human race, Adam, the great Patriarch Abraham, and the greatest-ever messenger, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
Nearly three million pilgrims embarked on their slow and steady trek to Arafat Tuesday night in the first leg of their five-day journey.
The huge caravan of the pilgrims moves towards Arafaat, usually in the afternoon of the eighth Zil-Hijja, in order to avoid congestion. Heads are bare and bodies covered with two pieces of white unstitched clothes.
Having with them provision for a few-day stay in the plain, and saying Labbayk whose spiritual echo is filling Mecca and the north-eastern plains, the pilgrims move in groups to gather in the plain of Arafaat at noon of the ninth day.
Arafat is a smooth and flat plain about twenty-four kilometers north of Mecca in the lap of Jabal ar-Rahmah (literally meaning, Mount of Mercy).
Arafaat is a holy place God has appointed to receive His guests. The banquet is in Mount Mercy so that all guests can enjoy God’s infinite blessings each according to his capacity. The rite of staying in Arafat begins at the noon of the 9th of Zi’l-Hijja and ends at the sunset of the same day.
The time of this religious act is short but its divine blessings are great. Once on hearing a beggar asking people for alms, the Prophet’s 4th Infallible Heir, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) said: “Woe to you! Are you asking people for help in this place while Allah’s mercy today is so comprehensive that what is in mountains is hoped to receive His general mercy and become prosperous.”
The Prophet’s 5th Infallible Successor, Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS) has said: “The supplications of every pious or impious man who stays in Arafaat and Mash’ar al-Haraam the following night will be absolutely answered. The supplications of a pious man will be fulfilled in matters regarding both this world and the Hereafter but the supplications of an impious man will be fulfilled only in matters regarding this world.”
The plain of Arafaat resembles the Day of Judgment. Almost three million pilgrims from different parts of the world have converged on this plain.
Wearing shroud-like clothing and bareheaded, all the pilgrims have raised their hands in supplication in this hot plain.