- Wearing masks and the ihram, the pilgrim’s seamless white garment, they each threw seven stones at a pillar symbolising Satan
- The pandemic has for a second year forced Saudi authorities to dramatically downsize the Hajj
Mina(Saudi Arabia): After the first stoning and the removal of Ihram limitations in Mina on Tuesday, this year’s Hajj is nearly at an end, as Muslims around the globe began celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman exchanged congratulatory messages with leaders of Muslim countries around the world to mark the occasion.
After a rest of nearly six hours in Muzdalifah, the 60,000 Hajj pilgrims were transported, amid strict health measures, to Mina after midnight on Monday. Over 1,700 buses were used to move the worshippers to Mina, some five kilometers away from Islam’s holiest mosque.
In the stoning ritual, each pilgrim threw seven pebbles at the Grand Jamrah, called Jamrat Aqaba, emulating the Prophet Abraham, who is said to have stoned the devil at three locations when he tried to persuade Abraham to violate Allah’s order by sacrificing his son, Ismael.
After the symbolic stoning, the pilgrims sacrificed sheep, men shaved their heads, took off their Ihrams and revisited the Grand Mosque for Tawaf Al-Ifadhah before they returned to Mina, where they will stay for two or three more days.
Security and health authorities, as well as Hajj organizers, were close to the pilgrims to provide any assistance needed, and make sure that they abided by the precautionary preventive measures.
Mohammed Yasin Ahmed, an Indian pilgrim who is living in the eastern city of Al-Khafji, told Arab News that he was pleased with the arrangement of this year’s Hajj.
“This Hajj was like a dream to me, and thank God I was able to do (it) in such a comfortable way. Every pilgrim was taking good care and showed a good sense of responsibility to help curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),” he said.
Mohsen, a Pakistani pilgrim working in Jubail, said that this was his first Hajj.
“I was really surprised to see these excellent arrangements by the Saudi government. Officials are working all day to help us avoid COVID-19, which is a difficult situation for all of us,” he told Arab News.
Performing the pilgrimage this year was limited to vaccinated people from the age of 18 to 65 years old, and only pilgrims already in Saudi Arabia, both citizens and residents who were eligible, were permitted to participate.
Mona Hamad, a Saudi pilgrim who was experiencing Hajj for the first time, said: “You cannot imagine how thrilled I am to live this experience.
“I have mixed feelings — proud of my country, enjoying Hajj and celebrating Eid. What else could bring more happiness than that? I am truly feeling elated,” she said.