Cooling rain pours down on Hajj pilgrims at Mount of Mercy

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Pilgrims in the Arafat area were hit by heavy rain and thunder storms on the second day of Hajj. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Pilgrims in the Arafat area were hit by heavy rain and thunder storms on the second day of Hajj. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Pilgrims in the Arafat area were hit by heavy rain and thunder storms on the second day of Hajj. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 11 August 2019

Cooling rain pours down on Hajj pilgrims at Mount of Mercy

  • Civil defense cautioned pilgrims to stay safe and to avoid low ground prone to flooding
  • Pilgrims rejoice at 'sign of mercy' and offer prayers

ARAFAT: Just as the heat became almost too much to bear, thunder cracked, the skies opened and the cooling rain began to fall. Not for nothing is it called the Mount of Mercy.

Streets began to flood within minutes of the showers, leaving muddy puddles and cooling those making their spiritual journey to and from Arafat.

While some rushed for cover, many others ran to the streets to pray.  Pilgrims wept as they raised their hands in worship on the slopes of Mount Arafat. Many had walked there through the pre-dawn darkness.

In Islam, Muslims believe that the their prayers have a higher chance of being answered when it rains.

 

Many pilgrims began to help others in need of shelter and offered clothing for those who were drenched in the rain. 

“This the first time I have come to Hajj, and it’s amazing,” pilgrim Ghada Al-Johar told Arab News. “When it rained, I went out and I cried. Every time when I saw the rain on TV during Hajj in the past I always thought, lucky them.

“One of my friends was here last year and she told me to pray to come, so I did, and here I am, my prayers have been answered.”

More than 2 million Muslims gathered on the sacred hill on Saturday for an intense day of worship and reflection that is the high point of Hajj. Among them was Danyah Bennett, 25, whose mother died only a week after her daughter’s wedding four years ago.

“I feel my mother is with me on Hajj every step of the way,” Danyah told Arab News. “I think about her a lot during Hajj. I wish she was here with me.”

As the pilgrims prayed on Mount Arafat, in Makkah a team of 160 technicians and craftsmen were replacing the Kiswa, the black silk covering for the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque. The ceremony takes place every year on the second day of Hajj.

On Saturday evening the pilgrims moved to Muzdalifah, to prepare for the symbolic stoning of the devil. 

The total number of pilgrims this year is 2,489,406, Saudi statistics chiefs said on Saturday.

The civil defense cautioned pilgrims to stay safe and to avoid low ground prone to flooding and from touching metal objects.

“I feel so happy, I feel as if my Hajj has received more mercy from Allah,” a pilgrim told Arab News in reference to the rain.

* For more pcitures of the rain on the second day of Hajj click here.


Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

Updated 11 min 25 sec ago

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

  • US official says all options, including a military response, are on the table
  • Washington blames Iran for the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field

RIYADH: Iran provided the weapons used to strike two Saudi Aramco facilities in the Kingdom, the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said Tuesday.

“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran,” coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, adding they were now probing “from where they were fired.”

The coalition supports the Yemen government in the war against the Iran-backed Houthi militants, which claimed they had carried out the attack on Saturday.

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US officials have said Iran was behind the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field, and that the raid did not come from Yemen, but from the other direction.

“This strike didn't come from Yemen territory as the Houthi militia are pretending,” Maliki said, adding that an investigation was ongoing into the attacks and their origins.

The Kingdom's Foreign Ministry said international experts, including from the UN, will be invited to participate in the investigation.

Preliminary investigations showed that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia's oil production and damaged the world's biggest crude processing plant, the ministry statement said.

"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks," it added.

The ministry said the attack above all targeted global oil supplies and called it an extension of previous hostile acts against oil pumping stations in May.

The Houthis have carried out scores of attacks against Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.

Al-Maliki labelled the Houthis “a tool in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist regime of Iran.”

The attacks against Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Crude prices rocketed on Monday by more than 10 percent.

Iran has denied involvement, something US President Donald Trump questioned Sunday in a tweet saying “we'll see?”

Later on Monday, Trump said it was "looking likely" that Iran was responsible for the attacks.

A satellite image of Saudi Aramco infrastructure at Khurais. (US Government/DigitalGlobe/ via Reuters)

Trump said "we pretty much already know" but that Washington still wanted more proof. "We want to find definitively who did this."
"With all that being said, we'd certainly like to avoid" war, he said. "I don't want war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody."

Trump had raised the possibility of military retaliation after the strikes on Sunday, saying Washington was “locked and loaded” to respond.

The US has offered a firm response in support of its ally, and is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia as a result of the attack, Reuters reported.

A US official told AP that all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.

The US government also on Monday produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at the oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.

Also on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that he had spoken over the weekend with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an Iraqi defense official about the recent attack on the oil facilities.

Iraq said the attacks were not launched from its territory and on Sunday Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that Washington possesses information that backs up the Iraqi government’s denial.

Condemnation of the attacks continued from both within Saudi Arabia and from around the world.

Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council called Tuesday for concerted efforts to hold those behind the attacks accountable.

Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais had consequences well beyond the region and risked dragging Yemen into a “regional conflagration.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Iraq that he was "extremely concerned" about escalating tensionsand accused Iran of "destabilizing" the region.

*With AFP, AP, Reuters