The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Hajj; the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith & unity

Hajj (pilgrimage) is the fifth of the fundamental Muslim practices and institutions known as the Five Pillars of Islam. It is considered a sacred journey that every adult Muslim who are physically and financially able must make at least once in their lifetime. Pilgrims chant, “Labayk Allahuma Labayk Labayk. La shareeka laka Labayk. Innal hamda wannimata laka wal mulk. La shareeka Lak.” (Here I am at your service, oh Lord, here I am – here I am. No partner do you have. Here I am. Truly, the praise and the favor are yours, and the dominion. No partner do you have.) These are the words chanted by some two million people from across the world heading, as if pulled by a magnet, to one single spot on Earth. As has happened every year for 14 centuries, Muslim pilgrims gather in Makkah to perform rituals based on those conducted by the Prophet Muhammad during his last visit to the city. Performing these rituals, known as the Hajj, is the fifth pillar of Islam and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity. Undertaking the Hajj at least once is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Macca. The emphasis on financial ability is meant to ensure that a Muslim takes care of his family first. The requirement that a Muslim be healthy and physically capable of undertaking the pilgrimage is intended to exempt those who cannot endure the rigors of extended travel. The pilgrimage is the religious high point of a Muslim’s life and an event that every Muslim dreams of undertaking. Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, can be undertaken at any time of the year; Hajj, however, is performed during a five-day period from the ninth through the thirteenth of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Nearly 2 million people are expected to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage — the biggest in years. It’s also the first to take place without restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of worshippers from across the world including 30,000 Afghans have reached Makkah for the biggest hajj in years. According to Saudi officials, nearly 1.5 million foreign pilgrims have arrived in the country so far for the annual pilgrimage. Authorities have said that they expect the number of pilgrims in 2023 to reach pre-pandemic levels as this year’s Hajj will be the first without the curbs imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, close to 2.5 million people took part in the pilgrimage. COVID-19 regulations brought that number down to about 10,000 in 2020, then 60,000 in 2021 and 926,000 in 2022. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.