Pilgrims stone ‘devil’ at Haj; Eid Al-Adha begins 

MINA: Pilgrims stoned the devil on Saturday in the last major ritual of this year’s Haj in Makkah, and Muslims around the world began celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.

A toddler emulates adult pilgrims stoning at pillars symbolizing Satan in Mina, on the third day of Haj on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)

A toddler emulates adult pilgrims stoning at pillars symbolizing Satan in Mina, on the third day of Haj on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)

The stoning ritual took place in Mina, about five kilometers east of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah.

Pilgrims had moved to Mina overnight Friday on foot, motorbikes, and buses from Mount Arafat after the Haj reached its zenith with a day of prayer, as well as tears by pilgrims moved by the sanctity of the spot where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is believed to have given his final sermon 14 centuries ago.

In the stoning ritual, pilgrims throw pebbles, which they collected at Muzdalifah on the way to Mina, at walls to emulate Prophet Abraham (pbuh), who is said to have stoned the devil at three locations when the devil tried to dissuade him from God’s order to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

In conjunction with the stoning, pilgrims offer sacrifices by slaughtering a sheep, whose meat goes to the needy.

Nowadays, pilgrims do not carry out this rite themselves, but agencies do it for them by distributing the meat to Muslims in many countries.

A total of about 1.5 billion Muslims around the world were celebrating Eid Al-Adha with sacrifices of sheep, goats and other animals.

This year’s Haj attracted just over two million believers including almost 1.4 million from abroad, according to statistics published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The balance of almost 700,000 came from within the kingdom, both Saudis and expatriates.
These numbers are roughly the same as last year.

The Haj has drawn a cross-section of humanity, everyone from presidents — Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir was among them — to commoners including a wounded Syrian rebel war veteran, as well as rich and poor pilgrims alike.

The Haj, which officially ends on Tuesday, is the world’s largest Muslim gathering.
It is one of the five pillars of Islam that every capable Muslim must perform at least once, the high-point of his or her spiritual life.


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