*Pilgrims move to Mina
By Ishola Balogun, Saudi Arabia
In a solemn gathering, tears flow freely while prayers for protection and safe return back home filled the air as the 2332 pilgrims from Lagos state prepare for another important stage in the annual hajj rites in Saudi Arabia.
It will be recalled that on September, 24, 2015, there was a stampede which caused over 760 death of pilgrims on their way to Jamarat for the symbolic stoning of the devil as well as the accident at the Kaaba same year.
The prayer session which was held at Makkah shortly before leaving for Mina and coordinated by the Amirul Hajj and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. AbdulHakeem AbdluLateef drew tears from both male and female pilgrims, crying unto Allah for safety and acceptable hajj.
They also offered intense prayers for continued development of the state led by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Nigeria at large.
Different scholars including Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, Senior lecturer, UNILAG and Chairman, Zakaat & Sadaqat Foundation led the first session while Imam Abdullah Shuaib, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, Jaiz Zakat and Waqf Trust Fund as well as the Amirul hajj, Dr. AbdulLateef led the second and third sessions respectively.
Meanwhile, the entire 2332 pilgrims from the state have arrived Mina, adorning the seamless white garment preparatory to the core hajj rite – Arafat day.
At Mina, the pilgrims were accommodated in executive tents, temporary homes for the multitude of pilgrims as they began the five-day ritual central to hajj.
Lagos is the only state among Nigerian pilgrims that got executive temporal abode for its pilgrims at the tented city, about 15kilometers away from the city of Makkah which was said to have been facilitated by Governor Ambode of the state.
After the standing in prayer at the Mount Arafat on Thursday, Pilgrims will proceed to Muzdaliffah where they will pick pebbles and head towards Jamarat on Friday for the stoning which basically symbolises denunciation of the devil. Thereafter, they will shave their heads and return to Makkah for the final rites – tawaf on Saturday.