MAKKAH: Pakistani pilgrim Muhammad Shoaib experienced the true spirit of Islam while performing Hajj rituals last week, he said on Monday, when surrounded by a million people, he was separated from his group.
Shoaib, who hails from Islamabad, was traveling to Muzdalifah to spend the night under a starry sky on Friday when he lost himself in the crowd and joined a group of pilgrims from another country.
“I didn’t know anyone around me,” he told Arab News on Monday. “I could not contact members of my own group since there were no Internet signals. I spent over an hour with unfamiliar faces and said my prayers with them.”
Shoaib said that night in Muzdalifah removed all differences of caste, color and country between the pilgrims.
“We were all the same,” he said. “We were all one.”
“While every moment of Hajj is memorable,” he added, “this has got to be the highlight of my spiritual journey.”
The Pakistani pilgrim from Islamabad was not the only person who shared sentimental memories on the last day of Hajj.
Fiaz Mahmood, a pilgrim from Pakpattan, spoke about the memorable decision to walk from Mina to Arafat at night to sit in the front rows of the Nimrah Mosque and attend the Hajj sermon.
“People were also taking buses to the mosque,” he said. “However, my friends and I started walking toward our destination at midnight. We were surrounded by the vast expanse of the desert and it took us two hours to reach the mosque. I can never forget how we felt when we saw the minarets of the building from a distance. It was as if we were no longer tired. We only had a strong sense of gratitude after performing that journey.”
Chaudhary Hammad from Wah Cantt praised Saudi authorities for trying to provide the best possible services for pilgrims.
“I was among the pilgrims who benefited from the Makkah Route Initiative,” he told Arab News, referring to a Saudi facility under which pilgrims from Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco and Bangladesh were allowed to go through the immigration process at their airport of origin.
“Since a large number of flights arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of Hajj, it can get extremely crowded at airports,” Hammad said.
“But this initiative made things extremely comfortable. We walked out of the airport shortly after our arrival, though the immigration in Jeddah would have otherwise taken at least a few hours.”
As the last day of Hajj comes to a close, Pakistani pilgrims will leave Mina in the evening, Ibrar Mirza, the director-general of the country’s Hajj mission in Makkah, told Arab News.
He said his team was busy with last-minute arrangements for the pilgrims who would soon arrive to their respective accommodations in Makkah.
“Pilgrims performing Hajj under the government scheme, who have yet to go to Madinah, will travel to that city on Saturday,” he said. “Until then, they will continue to stay in Makkah.”