Hajj sermon: Muslims urged to reject divisions

MAKKAH (Agencies): Sheikh Yusuf bin Muhammad bin Saeed on Tuesday urged the Muslims to forge unity and cohesion among their ranks to reap the benefits in this world and the Hereafter, and for a prosperous and harmonious society.
Delivering the Hajj sermon at Arafat on Tuesday, the Imam said the unity and cohesion would surely lead to the salvation of the Ummah in addition to averting any discords or divisions. A diverse and mammoth gathering of Muslims from around the world was present on the occasion. “All praise belongs to Allah, the Almighty, the One who bestows abundantly. He made unity a cause for salvation, and division a cause for punishment. He, the Absolutely Perfect, commanded that our ranks be united, and our word be one, as a cohesive alliance, and made forbidden everything that leads to discords and divisions.”
Quoting the verses from the Holy Quran, he reaffirmed the main articles of faith – the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The sermon highlighted the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), which emphasised unity, cooperation, and the prohibition of disputes and conflicts. It underscored the unifying role of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who was commanded to convey the message of Allah and bring unity among his followers.
The Imam urged the Muslims to observe Taqwa (righteousness) by obeying Allah’s commands and staying within the boundaries set by Him. The sermon emphasised that diverting any aspect of worship to entities other than Allah was totally prohibited. It highlighted the significance of Tawheed (worshipping Allah alone) for guidance and salvation.
The pillars of Islam, including the five daily prayers, obligatory Zakaat (charitable contribution), fasting during Ramadan, and performing Hajj, were emphasised as crucial aspects of worship. The sermon cited the Quranic verses and the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) to underscore their importance in the lives of Muslims.
It further stressed that linguistic, racial, and ethnic differences and divisions should not lead to any discord among Muslims. Diversity in languages and colours was a sign from Allah and an opportunity for knowledge, he added citing Quranic verses. The sermon underscored that “Islam provides preventative measures and defensive strategies to counter destructive intentions and acts of sabotage, aimed at dividing communities.”
The importance of referring back to the Quran and the Sunnah during disputes was highlighted, along with the necessity of good conduct, compassion, forgiveness, and patience. The Imam urged the Muslims to strengthen social, familial, and spiritual bonds and to uphold ties of kinship. He emphasised kindness and goodness towards relatives, neighbours, and the needy while promoting cooperation in righteousness and Taqwa.
The sermon also cautioned the Muslims against following rumours and disinformation that aimed to create divisions and disunity. The Imam concluded the sermon by reiterating the Islamic message of unity and cohesion, calling upon the Muslims to wholeheartedly embrace unity, practice tolerance, and reject divisions, while adhering to the teachings of Islam for a prosperous and harmonious society.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims prayed at Mount Arafat in searing heat on Tuesday at the height of an annual Haj pilgrimage held in the fierce Saudi Arabian summer. Worshippers crowded the rocky rise and surrounding area from before dawn and when the sun appeared, it revealed vast numbers of white-robed worshippers thronging the sacred site.
The ritual is the high point of the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, that officials say could be the biggest on record after three years of Covid restrictions. “I’m very happy. It’s a moment I have been waiting for my entire life,” said Fadia Abdallah, 67, from Egypt, wearing a white abaya and sitting on the ground beneath an umbrella.
High temperatures have been a constant challenge for the pilgrims, who come from around the world, and the mercury hit 44 degrees celsius before midday on the Haj’s most physically demanding day. The Haj has a tragic history of deadly stampedes and fires and as the pilgrims prayed and recited from the Holy Quran, helicopters hovered low overhead, monitoring the crowds. Tree-shaped water towers sprayed cooling showers on the visitors, and free water bottles and snacks were handed out from large trucks. Six field hospitals with more than 300 beds have been arranged in Arafat, Yasser Bair, a Saudi defence ministry official, told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV.
“I can’t believe I’m God’s guest,” said Rahma, a 57-year-old Libyan housewife, fighting back tears as she spoke. The Haj is a life goal for many Muslims, who are expected to perform the pilgrimage at least once if they are financially and physically capable. It is also a big revenue-earner for Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter which is trying to pivot its economy towards tourism and inward investment.
The pilgrims pray all day at Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his final sermon. After sunset, they will travel the short distance to Muzdalifah, where they will sleep in the open air. On Wednesday, they will gather pebbles and hurl them at three giant concrete walls in the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual. Then they will return to Makkah’s Grand Mosque — Islam’s holiest site — for a final circumambulation of the Kaaba.
At this year’s Haj, which follows the lunar calendar and is not always held in summer, a maximum age limit has also been removed, allowing thousands of elderly to attend. Heat is not the only risk at the Haj, which has seen multiple crises over the years, including militant attacks and deadly fires.