Saudi Arabia (MNN) — China holds the record for the world’s largest annual human migration, but Saudi Arabia comes close.
Saudi officials expect over two million Muslims to gather in Mecca and begin the Hajj on Friday night; some 2.38 million Muslims made the journey last year. The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca with an accompanying set of specific religious actions. It begins on the 8th day of the 12th month of Dhul Hijjah in the Islamic calendar.
“It’s one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims who are physically [and] financially able need to do it at least once in their lifetime to comply with their religious requirements,” explains Jane* with Cry Out Now, a prayer ministry focused on the Near East region.
“It is a major event in the Muslim world.”
What is the Hajj?
Last week, the League of Arab Nations praised Saudi Arabia’s Hajj planning and logistics. The Hajj requires a tremendous amount of organization and manpower. As described here, the Saudi government appoints a specific committee to handle everything Hajj-related: safety, sanitation, crowd management, and more. The event’s complexity requires detailed planning.
Each step of the Hajj requires specific actions; if people do not complete the day’s requirements, they must start over again the following day. These infographics developed by Al-Jazeera News depict the Hajj journey.
Muslims seek forgiveness of their sins on the Hajj, Jane says, but that’s not all.
“Muslims are, once again, open spiritually to having an experience with God. They want to dream dreams; they want to see visions.”
God’s Spirit moves often in Muslim hearts, and He seems to move in especially powerful ways during special days or seasons on the Muslim calendar. For example, “we pray during Ramadan, and we actually heard [about] a guy having a dream (about Jesus) during this year’s Ramadan,” Jane says.
“A lot of people from the Near East are also intentional about going to the Hajj, and we really want to encourage believers to stand with us and to pray that God would show up in miraculous ways during this year’s pilgrimage.”
Jane recalls several Muslims who began the Hajj with a real desire to meet God. These individuals dreamt of Jesus, she says, and placed their faith in Him as a result.
“This seems impossible, but with God nothing is impossible.”
Now that you know, will you save the date? Set a reminder on your calendar to join Cry Out’s team on Friday as they begin praying through the Hajj. Cry Out offers free resources here to help inform and guide your prayers.
“God says that those who seek Him with all their hearts and all their minds will find Him and will be found by Him,” Jane observes.
“Pray that those passionately seeking an encounter with God will have an encounter – even if it’s in the middle of Mecca, in the middle of Saudi Arabia.”
* – Name changed for security purposes.
Header image depicts a crowd of people touching the Ka’aba Stone in Mecca. Photo by Haidan on Unsplash.