Day of the Khalif: A Makkawi tradition

This lovely yearly tradition is known as “the day of the Khalif” and it has been observed by the people of Makkah on the Day of Arafah for a long time.

The ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah is the Day of Arafah, since it is on this day the pilgrims gather at the mountain plain of Arafah, praying and supplicating to their Lord. In fact, one hadith says that ‘Hajj is Arafah’ (Abu Dawud). This means Arafah is the sum and substance of Hajj.

Locally called as “Yawm Al-Kholeef,” which is the Arabic word for “void” or “empty,” the occurrence has been observed for as long as most people can recall.

The women, boys, and elderly of Makkah go out to Masjid Al Haram to circumambulate the Ka’bah and engage in various acts of worship in order to prevent the Haram from being deserted. The males follow the pilgrims five kilometres straight east to Mina valley as the women and children proceed to the Grand Mosque.

As soon as Eid Al-Fitr is over, Makkawis, also known as “mutawefeen” throughout the city, start preparing for the Hajj season as they wait for pilgrims to arrive from Jeddah through their “wukalaa” or agents.

In accordance with the arrangement between the mutawef, the wakeel, and the pilgrim, women prepare their homes to receive and house their guests, who may remain for a few days or up to four months.


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