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    Default News on Haraamain Sharif

    Work on mataf expansion begins





    MAKKAH: Preliminary work for the expansion of the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Kaaba) started yesterday with the installation of huge cranes at the northeastern courtyard of the Grand Mosque. The contractor undertaking the expansion has sought the evacuation of preachers’ offices in the mataf and the command office of the Haram Security forces close to Al-Safa Gate.
    The expansion is being undertaken on the basis of a study prepared by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Haj and Umrah Studies.

    The study focuses on using the available space and potential of the mataf to the maximum while maintaining the architectural features of the Grand Mosque using advanced technology.

    According to the study, the mataf will be separated from prayer areas and it will be linked to different floors of the mosque and facilitate entrance to and exit from the mataf. It will also takes care of the crowding at the entrances to the mataf and nearby passages and will also give direct access from the mataf to the masaa.

    The mataf on the second and third floors will have cable cars to carry aged and disabled pilgrims and there will be direct access to these floors from outside. The topmost floor of the mataf will have automated walkway revolving around the Kaaba.
    The study said the original mataf is a circle with a diameter of 95 meters.

    Currently the capacity of the mataf is 28,000 pilgrims in an hour or four persons in a square meter area, though at peak days it rises to 40,000 people or six people in a square meter in an hour.

    Muhammad Idris, who prepared the study, said the first Saudi expansion of the facility was undertaken 60 years ago and then roof was not made for prayers.

    He said factors such as the change in the level of ground water and impact of salt on the foundation and the shaking caused by the rock blasts for the nearby projects are affecting the mosque building’s strength.

    The study said many efforts have been made to strengthen the pillars of the building. The new project will also take steps to make the building tremor proof.

    Authorities have made it clear that the new works will not affect the upcoming Umrah season.

    Source: http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia...pansion-begins











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    Move Under Way to Translate Friday Sermons for Expats

    Author: Arab News
    Saturday 31 March 2007

    RIYADH, 31 March 2007 — The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance has announced that it is discussing plans to translate Friday sermons into other languages to appeal to non-Arab worshippers.

    Tawfiq Al-Sudairi, deputy minister of Islamic affairs, told a local newspaper that the ministry is currently considering whether to implement the plan in areas where a high number of Asian workers live. He added that translating Friday sermons after the prayers has already begun in certain areas.


    Al-Sudairi said that only approved translators would be allowed to translate the sermons, which are delivered by imams who have the freedom to choose their topics.


    He added that the idea of specifying certain mosques for Asian expatriates where they can listen to Friday sermons in their own languages was merely a suggestion.


    “Mosques are for everyone,” he said, adding that the languages of expatriates vary and is not just English.


    Khaled Al-Mehaidib, a former imam in Riyadh, said that translating Friday sermons was essential because most expats were unable to benefit from the sermons in Arabic.


    The ministry supervises over 72,000 mosques all over the Kingdom.


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    IMSIU to translate Friday Sermons

    RIYADH: SHARIF M. TAHA
    Thursday 19 July 2012
    Last Update 19 July 2012 2:42 am

    Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University (IMSIU) and the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques recently signed a contract whereby the university will translate the Friday sermons into English.

    IMSIU will undertake the translation task in collaboration with Prince Naif Institute for Studies and Consulting Services, an IMSIU affiliate.

    IMSIU Rector Sulaiman bin Abdullah Aba Al-Khail, who announced the project during the launching ceremony of a website for the Institute of Arabicization and Translation, said the institute should live up to the confidence reposed by the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques to the university.

    Aba Al-Khail appreciated the efforts undertaken by the institute in the past and expressed the hope it would initiate more steps to enhance communication with the university, governmental sectors and other similar bodies inside and outside the Kingdom, which may seek such services.

    He called on the parties concerned to reflect the true image of the Kingdom in other countries by translating books dealing with Islam and urged the institute to attract specialists and experts from inside and outside the university to serve the institute’s vision and objectives.

    On his part, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Bunyyan, the dean of the institute, said the institute aimed to express the international nature of the Saudi message through its translation efforts.

    The institute also aims at conveying the achievements of Saudi scholars and scientists on Shariah, humanitarian, and social areas to beneficiaries all over the world in addition to realizing the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ vision in boosting dialogue between followers of different religions and cultures, he pointed out.


    News Archive: OLD - http://www.imamu.edu.sa/sites/en/Pages/default.aspx

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    From another forum:

    One of the reasons why the proposed model of Masjid An-Nabawi expansion was cancelled was because the mihrab was moved to a new location in the proposed model and nobody can pin-point the Qiblah better than how Jibreel did at the time of Rasulullah



    The expansion itself is not cancelled, but the earlier proposed model of expansion is cancelled. It was like this:




    The alternate model which might be implemented now is this one:





    In this one, the original mihrab will remain in it's place and expansion will be done in the back and both sides.

    And the green dome will remain as it is. There's no change to that


    I don't think women will be allowed in the front, the place where Rasoolullah is facing. They are usually allowed only at the back side.

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    In the Mataf, apparently they are going to lower the Turkish part of Masjid Al-Haraam and bring it down at the Mataf level.


    The mataf area where worshippers perform the tawaf ritual (circumambulation of the Holy Ka’aba) will accommodate over 150,000 people per hour once it is expanded, according to Dr. Muhammad Al-Khuzaim, deputy president of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques’ Affairs.

    Dr. Khuzaim said the old Haram area will be left unchanged, although slight changes will be made to keep it at the same level of the mataf. He added that it will also be connected with the ground floor and the courtyards.

    Special lanes for wheelchairs used by the physically-disabled will be built while corridors will be developed to be in line with the mataf. More space will be created inside these corridors to facilitate the movement of worshippers.

    Source: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20121119143323


    The work has now started at the northern side of Masjid Al-Haraam. They have closed 76 doors on that side and cut off the electricity as well. Some of the overhead pedestrian bridges across Masa will be temporarily removed.
    Source: http://www.okaz.com.sa/new/Issues/20...1120549041.htm


    The Mataf area will be raised temporarily at half the height of Ka'bah during the construction works.
    Source: http://www.okaz.com.sa/new/issues/20...1121549309.htm

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    Saudi Authorities ask to Postpone Haj if you can

    ABDUL GHAFOUR - 16 June 2013



    In an unprecedented move aimed at preventing congestion and stampedes and ensuring safety of the guests of God, Saudi authorities have urged domestic and foreign pilgrims to postpone their Haj plans for this year if possible due to ongoing expansion work at Makkah’s Grand Mosque.

    The call follows the government’s decision to reduce the number of foreign pilgrims by 20 percent and domestic pilgrims 50 percent this year. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh has backed the measure, saying it was taken in public interest.

    In a series of announcements through the Holy Qur’an television channel, which is aired from Makkah, the government advised pilgrims intending to perform Haj and Umrah this year to postpone their plans to reduce congestion at the Grand Mosque.

    “By making this announcement our government is not preventing anybody from Haj, but asking them to postpone in order to avoid congestion and help first-time Hajis to perform their religious duties without difficulties,” Saeed Al-Qurashi, a member of the Haj & Umrah Committee at Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News.

    He said the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) could hold now only 39,000 faithful per hour, suggesting an influx of a large number of pilgrims could cause congestion inside the mosque.

    “Once the mataf expansion is completed, it can accommodate more than 130,000 pilgrims per hour. So, it would be better for our brethren to come for Haj next year or after two years, when they will be able to perform their rituals with ease,” he explained.

    Hatem Qadi, deputy Haj minister and spokesman of the ministry, emphasized the need for reducing the number of foreign and domestic pilgrims this year.

    “The period for cutting the number of pilgrims will not exceed two years,” he said. The ongoing expansion work at the two holy mosques are aimed at accommodating more pilgrims in the coming years, he pointed out.

    Qadi cited the grand mufti’s statement on the issue saying the government took the decision because it was essential. “The ongoing expansion is for the benefit of pilgrims,” the mufti said.

    Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh, Indian consul for Haj, said his country would send more than 170,000 pilgrims this year. “We have been informed about the government’s plan to cut the number of foreign pilgrims by 20 percent,” he told Arab News.


    http://www.arabnews.com/news/455185

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    Haram sermons to be translated for non-Arabs

    IRFAN MOHAMMED - 2 March 2014

    Live translation of the Friday sermons in Makkah’s Grand Mosque has come as blessing for non-Arab worshippers.

    The translation service, by qualified interpreters, is available in both English and Urdu. Part of the King Abdullah Project, the facility was formally launched on Friday.

    Authorities have assigned a designated area in the Haram for worshippers who follow Urdu and English where headsets and compact audio devices are being provided by the Grand Mosque authorities. The device is connected to FM frequency that broadcasts the interpretation of the Arabic sermon delivered by the Imam of Haram, Abdul Hafez Al-Shubaiti.

    A separate room for interpretation has been set up which is marked as sensitive, with qualified interpreters doing the job, a statement issued by the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs said.

    King Fahd Gate area is the designated area for the translation service and headsets to worshippers will be provided only in this area.

    It is not known whether mobiles that are equipped with FM frequency reception can also benefit from the service.

    Shaikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, president of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs, is keen on translating the Friday sermons and other information from Arabic into foreign languages for the benefit of non-Arab worshippers. Al-Sudais mooted the idea to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who has approved it, the statement said.

    A similar translation facility will be launched in the Prophet Mosque in Madinah. The authorities recently introduced Urdu translation facilities for Islamic guidance and counseling section of the Grand Mosque in Makkah for the increasing number of Umrah pilgrims.

    The translation facility is available only on Junoob Almakbariya in the south side of the Haram near the King Fahd gate and gate number 94.

    http://www.arabnews.com/news/533556

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    Pilgrims swallow ‘kiswa’ threads seeking blessings

    June 10, 2014


    Misconceptions have led some Umrah pilgrims to swallowing the threads of the Kaaba cover (kiswa), thereby setting off a pointless practice that leads to the disfiguring of the cover.

    They remove the threads using rings and scissors in the hope that it will bring them good luck and blessings. This continued action has disfigured the kiswa, Makkah daily said.

    The director of the factory manufacturing the Kaaba kiswa, Muhammad Bajoudah, said many Umrah performers pluck the threads of the kiswa and then swallow them due to wrong beliefs. He said this is due to their ignorance, as they have not given the ritual its due importance.

    These Umrah and Haj pilgrims carry out practices that contradict the correct rites, as they cut the threads of the kiswa hence disfiguring it. He prayed to Allah Almighty to guide them.

    Bajoudah said there is a department in the kiswa factory for repairing the portions that have been removed. There is a team of experts, specialists and field workers on hand to deal with these problems that occur almost daily due to wrong notions of the pilgrims.

    http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20140610207973

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    Saudi Arabia will expel non-Muslims who disrespect Ramadan



    Friday, 27 June 2014

    Saudi authorities threatened Thursday to expel non-Muslim foreigners who eat, drink or smoke in public during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins this weekend.


    The interior ministry urged non-Muslims to "respect the feelings of Muslims by refraining from eating, drinking or smoking in public places, streets and at work."

    "They are not excused for being non-Muslim," said the statement carried by SPA state news agency, adding that "labour contracts stipulate respect for Muslim rites."

    "Those who violate (that)... will face the necessary measures, including terminating work contracts and being deported," the statement added.

    Saudi Arabia hosts more than nine million foreigners, mostly Asians.

    During Ramadan, Muslims fast from food from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable. They are also required to abstain from drinking liquids, smoking and having sex.

    The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.


    http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News...-Ramadan-.html

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    Say no to Haj selfie!

    30 September 2014


    They can be seen video recording themselves walking around the Kaaba, kissing the black stone, perched close to the mount of Safa or Marwa, or standing near the green dome of the Prophet’s mosque.

    Selfie fever has taken pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques by storm in recent days, much to the chagrin of scholars and other pilgrims who condemn such ‘touristy behavior’.

    “In Madinah, I noticed a family facing the sun, raising their hands as if they were making dua. I couldn’t figure out what exactly they were doing. But then I noticed a person in front of them taking their picture,” said Zahra Mohammad, 27, an Islamic Studies teacher in Riyadh.

    “I have seen pilgrims in Masjid Al-Haram taking selfies with the Kaaba in the background and this selfie is then posted on Facebook making it a social media event and ruining their act of ibadah by ‘humble-bragging’,” she added.

    The urge to document their every move at the holy mosques of Makkah and Madinah, and to share these precious moments with friends and families on social media has resulted in more pilgrims using their phones in the holy mosques than they once used to.

    Many believe such behavior can be a deterrent to achieving humility and tranquility while performing acts of worship, especially during the once-in-a-lifetime journey of Haj.

    Jeddah-based scholar Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem said: “Photography without a legitimate reason is an issue of dispute among scholars. However, despite this difference of opinion, there shouldn’t be any dispute when it comes to the real meaning of Haj and the essence behind it. It is based on sincerity and following the sunnah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) when he went for Haj, he said: O Allah, I ask of you a pilgrimage that contains no boasting or showing of. Taking such selfies and videos defy the wish of our Prophet.”

    Famous scholar Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Al-Badr warned against taking photos during Haj, saying: “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached the Miqaat he would say: ‘0 Allah make this a Haj without riya (showing off) and without trying to be heard of.’ This supplication is said at the Miqaat. And after making this supplication it is followed by action and striving against the soul. But now at the Miqaat many of the people are taking pictures as mementos. They take pictures on Tawaf, and Arafat, and while throwing at the Jamarat.”

    It is as though the only purpose of this trip is to take pictures and not worship. And when they return home they say: ‘Come look at me, this is me on Arafat, this is me in Muzdalifah! And we have seen some of the people when they are ready to take the picture they raise their hands in the appearance of humility, fear, and tranquility. And then after the picture is snapped they drop their hands, he said.

    The Oscar selfie taken this year at the biggest Hollywood awards event became the most famous and talked about selfie in the world.

    However, as has been witnessed in the past few days, it seems visitors to the two holy mosques do not want to be left behind in following trends of the world, even if they contradict the nature of their worship.

    The sudden boom in selfies and photo shoots in the holy mosques premises can also be partly blamed on the increased sale and use of smartphones.

    Until a few years ago, camera phones were prohibited from being taken inside the holy mosques, although some pilgrims managed to sneak them in.

    However, authorities seem to have relaxed these rules as it is not uncommon to see pilgrims posing by the Kaaba and clicking away happily, although guards at the mosque entrances are reported to have prohibited people carrying professional cameras from entering.

    “I was trying to pray Jumma in Masjid Al-Haram but a few people kept coming in front of me to film the Khutba (sermon) with their cameras. What happens to one’s khushoo (serenity in prayer) in such a situation is anyone’s guess,”
    said Ahmad, a Jeddah-based expat performing Haj this year.

    “The number of people I’ve seen with cameras inside the Haram probably amounts to thousands during Umrah last year, and given so many people have camera phones, it’s an endemic not easy to stop,” he added.

    He suggests that individual Haj tour operators must inform their group members against excessive camera use so as not to distract themselves and others from the main purpose of accomplishing Haj Mabroor.


    http://www.arabnews.com/islam-perspective/news/637771

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    Saudi revises visa fees, bears cost for all first time pilgrims

    9 August 2016

    New amendments have been introduced to visa fees in Saudi Arabia, the country's cabinet of ministers has announced today. Most notably, the changes will see all visa fees completely waived off - and fully paid for by the Saudi government - for all first-time pilgrims coming for either Hajj or Umra.

    The newly introduced fee structure includes a single-entry visa that will cost travelers 2,000 Saudi Riyals ($533), applicable to all visitors, except first time pilgrims.

    A six month multiple-entry visa will now cost 3,000 Saudi Riyals (SR), a one year multiple-entry visa will cost SR5000, while a two year multiple-entry visa will cost SR8000. The Saudi Cabinet has also made it clear that these changes will not impact any bilateral deals already signed by Saudi Arabia and other countries.

    As for transit visas, their new fee is going to be SR300. Exit visa fee for anyone leaving the Kingdom through its seaports will be SR50. These revised fees will come into force from 2 October 2016.

    Meanwhile, "exit and re-entry" visa fees for residents will be SR200 for a single trip for two months. SR100 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit (iqama).

    Exit and reentry visa fee for multiple trips will be SR500 for three months. SR200 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit.

    The new charges were announced during Monday’s weekly meeting of the Saudi Council of Ministers, which was chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who is also the kingdom's Interior Minister.

    There were other decisions announced during the meeting, including new and revised fines for traffic violations.


    https://english.alarabiya.net/en/bus...visa-fees.html

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    New marks to help pilgrims performing Tawaf of Kaaba


    2016



    Makkah — For the first time, the covering cloth of the Kaaba, also known as Kiswa, will have a new addition to indicate the starting and ending points of circumambulation — or Tawaf — around the sacred structure.


    This will help pilgrims count the number of Tawaf they have performed.
    The gilded four lantern shaped patches with Allah-u-Akbar (Allah is greatest) sewn in its center, were placed above the Black Stone.
    This new addition is the fourth directional signage that has been assembled recently to guide the pilgrims to where circumambulation starts and ends in a bid to prevent any confusion.

    http://muslimcouncil.org.hk/new-mark...awaf-in-kaaba/

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    Why Makkah's Marble Flooring Is Cool To Touch

    Feb 3, 2017

    FOR anyone who has performed the Umrah or Haj pilgrimages, they will have probably noticed the coolness under foot when they stepped onto the marble floors of the Grand Mosque and around the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.

    Many have debated the reason behind the cold feeling, given Saudi Arabia's searing summer temperatures.

    The office of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques told Al Arabiya that the main reason was behind the type of marble used.

    Saudi Arabia imports rare Thassos marble flooring from Greece that reflects the sun's rays and in turn the heat during the day.

    Authorities have brushed off claims that the real reason behind the coolness was a series of cold water pipes laid beneath the marble floor.

    http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/makkahs-marble-flooring-cool-touch/





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    Saudi Police Foil Mecca Grand Mosque Attack

    Officials say a man who was planning to attack Mecca's Grand Mosque blew himself up after being surrounded by police.

    23 June 2017


    Authorities in Saudi Arabia have foiled a "terrorist action" targeting the Grand Mosque in Mecca, according to officials.

    The Saudi interior ministry said in a statement on Friday that a man who planned to attack the mosque blew himself up when security forces surrounded a house in Mecca where he was hiding.

    At least 11 people, including five policemen, were wounded in the collapse of a three-storey building where the suspect had barricaded himself, the ministry said.

    Five other people, including one woman, were detained during the operation, it added.

    Muslims from around the world converge to Mecca this time of the year for the conclusion of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

    Since late 2014, Saudi Arabia has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

    Purported images from the scene that circulated on social media showed an alley filled with bricks and other debris apparently from a blast.

    Video showed what appeared to be a man's head lying among rubble from a collapsed structure.

    Four people were killed last year days before the end of Ramadan in an explosion close to Islam's second holiest site, the Prophet's Mosque, in the city of Medina,

    It was one of three suicide blasts around the kingdom on the same day, and which the US Central Intelligence Agency said bore the hallmarks of ISIL.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/0...203257114.html

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    Kingdom’s expansion projects, development of holy sites raise Hajj pilgrim numbers

    Continuous expansion of the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, as well as the upgrading of services and infrastructure there, have played a significant role in increasing the number of pilgrims coming to perform Hajj in recent years.

    “The Ministry of Culture and Information monitors quantitative and qualitative development to highlight the tremendous efforts made to serve pilgrims,” said the director of the operations room at the ministry, Abdulkhaliq Al-Zahrani.

    The Kingdom is implementing huge projects aimed at raising the capacity of the mosques and developing Makkah, Madinah and all holy sites.

    “The best witness to the efforts of the Kingdom is the tremendous development in the Jamarat bridge project and the surrounding area, and in Mina and Muzdalifah, and the expansion of the Jamarat complex, which consists of four floors in addition to the ground floor to accommodate nearly 4 million pilgrims,” Al-Zahrani said.

    There is also rail transport for pilgrims from Muzdalifah and their tents in Mina to Jamarat bridge, as well as the creation of shaded bridges and well-ventilated tunnels.

    Meanwhile, the General Command of Air Security has intensified air patrols in the skies over Makkah and Madinah, local media reported.

    This implementation is part of the Hajj plan’s second phase, said Maj. Gen. Mohammed bin Eid Al-Harbi, the aviation security commander.

    Al-Harbi said that the plan consists of several stages and the second phase will monitor the security situation and traffic, influx of pilgrims, and detect infiltration routes of pilgrims without permits.
    He added that the second phase will also monitor human traffic in the central area of the Two Holy Mosques and the roads leading to them.

    He added that “the flights are being increased to follow the security situation and to keep a close eye on the pilgrims’ movement during their overnight travel to Makkah.”

    http://www.arabnews.com/node/1150786/saudi-arabia

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