THE HAJJ RITES IN THE DESERT: Mina Valley, Plain of Arafat
At this point, the Hajj becomes a moveable ritual, stopping four times along a circular fifteen-mile route through a desert landscape ringed with granite hills.
On the eighth day of the pilgrimage month, pilgrims all leave the city and troop five miles east, into Mina Valley. Here, a tent city of enormous proportions fills the valley for miles around. Pilgrims pass the night in Mina, leaving behind the comforts of civilization and further dissolving class and cultural distinctions, as everyone becomes a wayfarer.
On the morning of the ninth day, the exodus pushes another five miles east, to the Plain of Arafat. Here the high point of the Hajj takes place in the form of a group vigil, called the Day of Standing Together (Yawm al-Wakuf). At Arafat, pilgrims are transported into a timeless frame of mind: Arafat is the location where, Muslims believe, Adam and Eve were reunited after leaving Eden. This is a place set aside for spiritual reunion, where pilgrims come to seek pardon, reclaim their faith, and re-collect their spirit. Muslims often refer to this portion of the Hajj as a rehearsal for the Day of Judgment.