Several hundred thousand pilgrims joined Mount Arafat on Tuesday, June 27, for the second stage of the pilgrimage to Mecca. About twenty kilometers southeast of the holy city of Islam, this rocky hill marks the most important time of the hajj.
Also called the Mount of Mercy, Mount Arafat is where the Prophet of Islam is said to have delivered his last sermon, the khutbat al-wada’, during the farewell pilgrimage in 632, shortly before his death. He would have set out the founding principles of the religion, including that of pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, compulsory at least once in their life for all believers who can afford it.
In the Islamic lunar calendar, the day of this stage is also called Arafat day, in reference to Mt. This place is mentioned in the Koran, in sura 2 of verse 198. According to the holy book of Islam, this granite hill is also the place where Adam and Eve would have found themselves after their expulsion from paradise.
After a first stop in Mecca, the pilgrims spent the day on Tuesday at Mount Arafat to pray, recite the Koran and ask for forgiveness. Although the hajj takes place this year in the middle of summer, in one of the hottest regions in the world, wearing a hat remains prohibited for men.
It was 48 degrees there, according to the kingdom’s meteorology department. Giant vaporizers were installed around the mount to allow pilgrims to cool off, while numerous trucks ensured the free distribution of fresh water and meals.
Once the sun has set, pilgrims will head to Muzdalifa, halfway between Mina and Mount Arafat, to spend the night there in the open air. On Wednesday, the faithful will carry out the symbolic stoning of Satan, by throwing stones at a large stele symbolizing the devil in the Mina Valley.
They will then return to Mecca for a final circumambulation of the Kaaba, which symbolizes the home of Abraham and to which Muslims around the world turn to pray.