Pilgrims retrace the steps of the Prophet

Updated 15 November 2015

Pilgrims retrace the steps of the Prophet

MINA: Muslims performing Haj, the annual pilgrimage, will retrace the steps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who performed the ritual more than 1400 years ago.
This year, the Haj officially starts on Monday, Sept. 22, the eighth day of Dul Hijjah. Nearly two million pilgrims from around the world are expected to perform Haj this year. More than 1.2 million pilgrims have come from abroad this year.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) performed Haj only once. In Islamic texts, that particular Haj is known as the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hujjat Al-Wida). The Prophet (pbuh) taught the rituals of the pilgrimage to his followers, which marks the life of Prophet Ibrahim and his family as narrated in the Holy Qur’an.
The following is a detailed account of what the pilgrims do:

PRELUDE: As a prelude to Haj, pilgrims perform Umrah, or mini-pilgrimage, upon arrival in Makkah. The first step is to get into a state of ihram, when men put on a seamless two-piece outfit and women, their hair covered, put on modest clothes. Pilgrims then head to the Grand Mosque to walk around the Holy Kaaba seven times — a ritual called tawaf or circumambulation.
The next step is sa’ee, where pilgrims walk seven times between nearby Safa and Marwa, a 450-meter stretch where Prophet Ibrahim’s wife, Hajira, searched for food and water for her infant son Prophet Ismail. Male pilgrims then shave or trim their hair to mark the end of Umrah and women remove locks of hair.

DAY 1 (Tuesday, Sept. 22): The pilgrims move to Mina, a valley that is located 8 km from Makkah, to camp for the night. Mina is the city of tents.

DAY 2 (Wednesday, Sept. 23): The climax and centerpiece of Haj. It is called Wuqoof-e-Arafat. The pilgrims, chanting, “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (Here I am, oh Allah, here I am), begin the 14 km trek from Mina to the plains of Arafat. It is in these plains, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered his final sermon, declaring that he had finally completed his mission and delivered God’s message.
The pilgrims stay in Arafat until sunset, when they come down to Muzdalifah to spend the night under open skies and also to collect pea-sized pebbles.

DAY 3 (Thursday, Sept. 24): The pilgrims go to Jamrat in Mina, where they throw stones at one of the three wall-structures — re-enacting Prophet Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil, who appeared three times to Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail.
Prophet Ibrahim went to Mina to carry out Allah’s instructions to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismail, before Allah replaced the son with a sheep.
Therefore, on this day, pilgrims join Muslims around the world who celebrate Eid Al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice) by slaughtering sheep to mark Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice and feeding the needy. The pilgrims then go to Makkah for another round of tawaf and sa’ee, and again cut their hair before returning to spend the night in Mina.

DAY 4 (Friday, Sept. 25): The pilgrims stone the three wall-like structures and again spend the night in Mina.

DAY 5 (Saturday, Sept. 26): The pilgrims stone the wall-like structures at Jamrat for a third time before returning to Makkah and performing a third tawaf to bid farewell to the holy city. Pilgrims may stay in Mina for another day and stone the pillars again, but those who wish to leave after the third pelting must do so before sunset.


Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2020

Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah destination provides a taste of Japan with anime, comics, desserts and films

JEDDAH: Japanese comic books, known as manga, have captured the hearts of some Saudis so much that a 31-year-old citizen decided to give the genre’s fans a specialist Jeddah cafe so that they can pursue their passion as well as meet others who share it.

Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer who spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.
Manga cafes can be found in most cities across Japan. They are a place where people can spend hours reading manga, and they are also considered to be a cultural space where people can relax and have conversations about manga.
He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in the Kingdom. As an urban planner, he was able to grasp the Japanese concept and implement it in Saudi Arabia with a few tweaks and changes to suit the local audience.
“Manga cafés are all over Japan, albeit executed differently,” Baghlaf told Arab News. “They’re a little like internet cafés where people can spend the night. Of course, recreating that here doesn’t go along with our culture and traditions, so we recreated the concept in a way that accommodates that.”

Signature drinks
Akiba has only been open for a few months but, by the time Arab News visited the manga hotspot, people have already been flocking to the cafe to try out its signature drinks and read their favorite comics.

We have contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.

Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, Urban planning engineer

Friends and families can be seen relaxing together on the ground floor flicking through the pages of a comic book, or delving into a more accessible e-reading option as manga is still in short supply in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales.
Akiba also airs popular anime and animated films throughout the day, uploading their schedule on their Twitter and Instagram pages.
Baghlaf is an avid gamer, but watching anime and reading manga is definitely on his list of favorite things to do. Keeping up with popular stories also helps him to figure out what manga volumes to acquire and which anime films to screen.
The urban planning engineer noticed the Kingdom’s approach in linking many objectives in the Vision 2030 reform plan to entertainment and, as cafes continue to draw large crowds in Saudi Arabia, he felt encouraged about going for Akiba.
“Specialty cafes are very popular here nowadays, so how am I going to be special? I went for a manga or anime cafe,” he said.
The cafe’s target audience are those who are interested in specialty coffee, manga and anime. For people with a sweet tooth there are Japanese desserts on offer, including cheesecake.

BACKGROUND

• Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer.

• He spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

• He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in Saudi Arabia.

• The name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers.

• It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.

• Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.

Baghlaf has to make frequent trips to Japan to discuss screening rights with creators in Tokyo. “We’ve contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.”
Due to the deals Baghlaf has made with distributors, he receives the episodes prior to their airing date to green-light them in terms of translation accuracy and censorship, in order not to air anything that goes against the Kingdom’s culture.
The same goes for manga. “I would bring in a story with 70-something volumes and, out of those, one book could end up with something inappropriate and I’d have to shelve the whole series.”


Baghlaf believes that the market for Japanese storytelling is massive in Saudi Arabia and continues to grow each day.
“It’s definitely popular and it’s why you see major events happening like Comic Con and Anime Expo, which I’ve been to myself with 200,000 others. It was so crowded,” he said.

Friendship
The Saudis have grown up with Japanese stories for decades, as well as slapstick US cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and the Loony Tunes that lack storytelling or arcs, according to Baghlaf. The Japanese stories have taught generations of Saudis about friendship, brotherhood, integrity and how to deal with others.
“There’s also a huge likeness between Japanese and Arabic culture. Within families, respecting those older than you whether through language, which has levels of formality where elders deserve the most respectable form when talked to and they have a lot of respect for familial bonds as well.”
The cafe owner revealed that the name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers. It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.
Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.