The local time in Saudi Arabia is 10 am. Yesterday is Friday. Two hours left until the start of Friday prayers. The worshipers are rushing towards the Masjidul Haram like a stream.
Women, men and children are all going to perform prayers after performing aju and bath. Sick or weak people have gone to the mosque in wheelchairs. This was the last Friday before the holy Hajj. The worshipers will leave for the minaret next Wednesday as part of the Hajj.
Several pilgrims said they were waiting near the Grand Mosque after the Fajr prayers yesterday morning. Many have been able to perform the Friday prayers with the Imam in the first row.
Three hours before the prayers, all roads around the Grand Mosque were closed to traffic. There is no speed without walking.
Friday is a weekly holiday in Saudi Arabia. So, on Thursday evening, the worshipers left Makkah and its environs for the Holy Mosque. It is more common among expatriates.
In addition to the Friday prayers, they return to work after meeting relatives who have come from the country to perform Hajj.
There were adequate mic and sound systems outside the mosque to listen to the Friday sermon. Hajj pilgrims listen to the khutbah and offer prayers with proper hygiene and safety.
The sermon highlighted the importance of Mecca, Kaaba Sharif, Hazre Aswad and Zamzam wells. At the same time blessings are given for all the people of the world. Sheikh Faisal bin Majil Ghazawai, Imam of the Grand Mosque, led the Friday prayers.
On the way back after the prayers, I talked to Mohammad Hasan who came from Nigeria. Hasan said his younger brother studied at a university in Gazipur, Bangladesh.
This time 43,000 people from Nigeria have come to perform Hajj. The Hajj package cost them about four and a half thousand dollars per person.
Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Dhaka’s Mohammadpur area, has come to perform Hajj with his wife and daughter. They said they felt lucky to be able to take part in such a big congregation on Friday.