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Respect for other faiths and harmony among religions were central themes in this year’s Arafat sermon delivered by the head of the Makkah-based Muslim World League at Nimrah Mosque, where one million pilgrims gathered during Hajj.
“Dear worshippers performing Hajj at Allah's sanctified house; dear Muslims: Among the values taught by Islam are avoiding all that leads to dissent, animosity, or division; and instead, ensuring that our interactions are dominated by harmony and compassion,” Dr Sheikh Mohammed Al Issa told the faithful in Arafat.
“These values come at the head of what adhering to the Quran and Sunnah means … It is that unity, brotherhood, and co-operation which constitutes a fortification of safety that protects our Ummah and its togetherness, and also contributes to maintaining sound interactions with others,” he said.
Muslim pilgrims were gathering at Mount Arafat — a granite hill about 20 kilometres from the Kaaba on the Arafat plains — on Friday to participate in the most important ritual of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Mr Al Issa was Saudi Arabia’s minister of justice before he was appointed to lead the Muslim World League. He is also a member of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia. He also led a historic high delegation interfaith visit of Muslim religious leaders in 2020 to the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
During his visit to Auschwitz, Mr Al Issa said Islamic principles denounce all forms of violence and crime.
This year’s Arafat sermon was broadcast with live translation from Arabic into 13 languages — Urdu, Tamil, English, French, Turkish, Malay, Persian, Russian, Mandarin, Bengali, Hausa, Spanish and Swahili, as Saudi Arabia’s leadership sought to convey a message of moderation and tolerance to the widest possible audience.
More than 200 million people globally were expected to watch the sermon.
“I am looking forward to listening to it in Urdu with my family," Jeddah resident Farhana Raheem told The National. "Three generations of Urdu-speaking family members will gather together to listen to the sermon. Tomorrow is a sacred day for us and we are fasting for the day of Arafat.”