Over 2 million Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Agencies
June 15, 2024

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Mount Arafat, June 15: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.

It’s 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.

“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.

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

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.

Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.

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News Network
July 16,2024

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The Gaza Civil Defense says it has lost dozens of its employees ever since the Israeli military launched its relentless aerial and ground offensives across the besieged coastal terror in early October last year.

In a fresh statement, the organization put the number of fallen aid workers at 79, noting that the figure comes after one of its members succumbed to severe injuries sustained during the Israeli strike on a designated humanitarian safe zone at the al-Mawasi camp in southern Gaza, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others.

The fatality brings to three the number of aid workers killed in the attack, which was the deadliest in Gaza for weeks, according to the Gaza Civil Defense.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after Palestinian resistance groups carried out a surprise retaliatory operation into the occupied territories.

Concomitantly with the war, the regime has been enforcing a near-total siege on the coastal territory, which has reduced the flow of foodstuffs, medicine, electricity, and water into the Palestinian territory into a trickle.

So far during the military onslaught, the regime has killed at least 38,664 Gazans, most of them women, children, and adolescents. Another 89,097 Palestinians have sustained injuries as well.

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News Network
July 16,2024

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka cabinet on Monday approved implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations, effecting a 27.5% increase in basic pay from August 1, 2024, and benefiting 12 lakh state govt employees and pensioners.

The commission, led by former chief secretary K Sudhakar Rao, was constituted in November 2022 with a six month mandate.

The final report was submitted to chief minister Siddaramaiah before Lok Sabha elections were announced in March 2024.

The commission’s recommendations include raising the minimum salary for govt employees from Rs 17,000 to Rs 27,000 a month.

The implementation is expected to widen the revenue expenditure of the Karnataka govt by Rs 20,000 crore annually. The most considerable expenditure will be the burden of Rs 7,409 crore for salaries, followed by Rs 3,791 crore for pensions and family pensions each year.

The decision comes after the previous BJP govt, just before the 2023 assembly elections, granted interim relief with a 17% salary hike for govt employees, leaving the remaining 10.5% for future discussions.

After Congress govt took office, it faced pressure to fulfil five poll guarantees and delayed the decision.

The employees, during an executive committee meeting held recently in Chikkamagaluru, decided to launch a three-phase protest culminating in an indefinite strike planned from July 29. This appears to have pressured the govt.

"We welcome the decision for providing employees with 27.5% salary hike," said Shadakshari, state president of Karnataka state govt employees' association.

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News Network
July 16,2024

aideworkers.jpg

The Gaza Civil Defense says it has lost dozens of its employees ever since the Israeli military launched its relentless aerial and ground offensives across the besieged coastal terror in early October last year.

In a fresh statement, the organization put the number of fallen aid workers at 79, noting that the figure comes after one of its members succumbed to severe injuries sustained during the Israeli strike on a designated humanitarian safe zone at the al-Mawasi camp in southern Gaza, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others.

The fatality brings to three the number of aid workers killed in the attack, which was the deadliest in Gaza for weeks, according to the Gaza Civil Defense.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after Palestinian resistance groups carried out a surprise retaliatory operation into the occupied territories.

Concomitantly with the war, the regime has been enforcing a near-total siege on the coastal territory, which has reduced the flow of foodstuffs, medicine, electricity, and water into the Palestinian territory into a trickle.

So far during the military onslaught, the regime has killed at least 38,664 Gazans, most of them women, children, and adolescents. Another 89,097 Palestinians have sustained injuries as well.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
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