Black Stone guard feels passion among pilgrims

Updated 01 August 2013
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Black Stone guard feels passion among pilgrims

The guards of Al Hajar Al Aswad (the black stone in the Ka’aba) regulate the flow of tens of thousands of pilgrims circling the Ka’aba to enable Muslims to touch this most wanted corner.
Sgt. Hamad Al-Sharif, a guard at the Black Stone, who has been in this profession for 30 years, said he has no desire to leave the Ka’aba because he enjoys his job.
Al-Sharif appreciates pilgrims who strive to reach the Black Stone. He is well aware of their passion and feelings for this site. He monitors pilgrims’ behavior in competing to touch the Black Stone. “I see a lot of passion, which I attribute to the worshippers’ happiness and desire to reach the Black Stone after praying in the Grand Mosque,” Al-Sharif said. “Their tears flow when they kiss the Black Stone.”
He added: “I hope to earn God’s rewards and the prayer of a pilgrim whom I helped him to kiss or touch the Black Stone. My job is not restricted to organizing tens of thousands of pilgrims who want to come close to the Black Stone, my job is to help them to approach it and touch it.”
“The military honor of guarding the Black Stone was bestowed upon me 30 years ago,” he said. “I ascend the pedestal next to the Black Stone, hoping to get rewards from Allah, and the prayers of an elderly man or woman who was able to touch or kiss the Stone.”
Yahya bin Musaed Al-Zahrani, major general and commander of the Grand Mosque security forces, said the duties of the Black Stone security guards are to help organize worshippers who wish to kiss the Black Stone. They watch for anyone who repeats approaching the Stone to ease the congestion and human stampede in that corner.
“Security guards assigned to the Grand Mosque take turns in ascending to the pedestal of the Black Stone,” he said. “We teach them to carry out their duties with patience and benevolence.”


How Madinah residents prepare Ramadan meals at Prophet’s mosque

Updated 26 min 44 sec ago
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How Madinah residents prepare Ramadan meals at Prophet’s mosque

JEDDAH: The residents of Madinah have been using the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to take the opportunity to welcome worshippers at Al-Masjid An-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque) and express their hospitality.
Iftar gatherings such as these bring the Madinah community together to socialize and challenge one another in performing good deeds.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) took a series of photos that reflect the Ramadan spirit at the Prophet’s mosque, with Madinah residents rushing to serve worshippers Iftar (break fast) meals prepared from the best local cuisine.
A unit dedicated to serving Iftar has provided a guide for those who want to serve meals. Servers are licensed to do so and are fully responsible for the quality of food. Any violations would result in canceling the license and giving the opportunity to another company.
The Iftar meals during Ramadan include tea, coffee, yogurt, bread, rice, meat, fruits and juices.
The food is served in areas of the mosque’s outside courts, designated for fasters to realx and enjoy their meals.
The Iftar meals are prepared right after Asr prayers, and organizers enter the mosque from special gates assigned to accomplish these tasks.
Food inspectors ensure that nothing but the permitted meals are allowed to be served for worshippers.
At sunset prayers, the meals are prepared, and right before prayers are held, the meals are distributed to provide space for worshippers to pray.