Friday Congregational Prayers at Makkah and Madinah before the commencement of Hajj 2009
“Labbayk, Allahumma Labbayk!” (“Here I am, Oh Lord, Here I am, responding to your Command”) was the unending Talbiyah Chant of 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims as they gathered, as one mass of humanity, within the courtyards, corridors and roofs of the Grand Mosque in Makkah to offer the Friday Congregational Prayers on Nov 20, the last Friday before the start of the pilgrimage of Hajj which begins on Wednesday Nov 25, 2009.
The whole area was filled to the brim from the early hours of Friday morning as the multitude of pilgrims from all corners of the globe, all dressed in white, performed their prayers and supplications as one people. The city streets reverberated, afterwards, with the continuous chanting of Takbir and Talbiyah as they exited the Holy Mosque.
Around 500,000 pilgrims also performed Friday prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina as they concluded their visit to the city prior to moving on to Makkah to join the rest of the pilgrims for the Hajj.
Ministry of Haj officials in Madina worked intensely with grouping centers to ease the traffic flow, which will continue and reach a peak through Saturday and Sunday as pilgrims converge on to the city of Makkah.
Sheikh Saud Bin Ibrahim Al-Shuraim, the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, advised Muslims to be conscious of their Creator and obey His Commands, urging them to abide by the Laws of Shariah in both private public matters.
The Imam said that Muslim should be righteous and follow the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Prophet Muhammad, warning them against any deviations from it and against heresies, discord and division. He reiterated that the Holy Ka’aba was an eternal symbol of unity and the direction of Worship for Muslims across the world throughout time, from one generation to another, from one era to another. .
“You have entered into the state of consecration (Ihram) in an atmosphere characterized by spirituality bringing you closer to Allah and keeping you from sins,” he told the millions of anxious pilgrims at the mosque.
“The spirit of brotherhood, justice and equality should prevail, and you will be supplicating to Allah in this rite in different languages, and Almighty Allah gives no priority to one prayer over another, but accepts this pilgrim’s prayer and forgives another and sees a third pilgrim’s tears,” he said.
“We should make the Hajj a point of departure for the conveyance of its wisdom and lessons to all Muslims worldwide. Every pilgrim should carry in his heart the sense of unity, cohesion, brotherhood and justice, however different their languages and colors may be. All should abide by Allah’s Book and the Prophet’s Sunnah,” Sheikh Al-Shuraim said.
Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Al-Qassim, Imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina spoke in his Friday sermon on the merits of the Haj pilgrimage, saying it “cleanses the pilgrim of all sins and errors and emerges him like a new born”
“The reward for an accepted Haj is paradise,” Sheikh Al-Qassim said. “Wearing clothes without seams recalls the shroud in which the dead are wrapped for burial. The Ihram reminds a person to be humble and avoid arrogance.”
“Arafat Day (ninth day of Hajj) is a blessed day of devotion and humility. Gathering at the holy sites during Haj reminds people of the Day of Judgment. The rites are acts of worship by which Muslims seek Allah’s reward through slaughtering sacrificial animals. By shaving one’s head, a pilgrim is submitting to Allah’s greatness and showing humility to Him,” Sheikh Al-Qassim said.
Administrative authorities and the service crew, across tyhe holy cities, were seen everywhere, actively attending to the needs of the pilgrims, their transportation, food, accomodation and welfare.