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This morning, pilgrims began to flock to Jamarat al-Aqaba in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, the end of the most important stations of this year’s Hajj rituals. Biggest during the Corona Pandemic.
From early morning, groups of worshipers marched through the Mina valley in western Saudi Arabia hurling seven pebbles at an object representing Satan’s temptation. Once done, the pilgrim slaughters the sacrificial animal and then shaves or cuts off the head.
The stoning rituals have led to a deadly stampede in the past, with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims crammed into a narrow space.
Afterwards, the pilgrims proceed to Makkah to perform the Tawaf al-Ifatah, one of the pillars of the pilgrimage, and then return to Mina, where they spend the night at Tashreek, during which they throw the three Jamarat. Pilgrims can leave after the great Jamrah of Aqaba if they have any excuse.
Hajj is generally one of the largest annual religious gatherings in the world and is one of the five pillars of Islam, and every Muslim who can do it should do it at least once.
In 2019, around 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world participated in it. But this number has dropped to a few thousand in 2020 and 60,000 in 2021 as the empire tries to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. This year, the number of participants reached one million, including 850,000 from abroad, for the first time since 2019.
The issue of conducting the Hajj brings prestige and influence to the Saudi rulers. For the past two years, the ban on pilgrims going abroad to perform the rituals has caused great disappointment among Muslims around the world.
Hajj, which costs at least $5,000 per person along with Umrah, is a major driver of the kingdom’s tourism industry. In normal times, religious events bring in about $12 billion a year.
Viruses and hot weather
After the stoning ceremony, the pilgrims return to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and perform a “farewell circumambulation” around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque.
And on Friday, pilgrims spent their day praying and supplicating at Mount Arafat, the pinnacle of Hajj rituals.
At Upper Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon, groups of worshipers read Quranic verses carrying umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun’s rays. After sunset, they went to Mustalifa, where they spent their nights in the open before the “stoning of Satan” began.
This year’s Hajj season comes amid a resurgence of the coronavirus in the region, with some Gulf countries tightening restrictions to prevent its spread.
All pilgrims arriving from abroad must be fully vaccinated and show a negative result for the coronavirus test. Upon their arrival in Mina on Thursday, they were given bags containing masks and sterilizers.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Kingdom has recorded more than 795,000 coronavirus cases, including more than a thousand deaths, and 67 million vaccinations have been administered in a country of more than 34 million people.
Pilgrimage can be physically exhausting even under the best of circumstances. However, this year, devotees faced an additional challenge with extreme temperatures as they performed the rituals under the scorching sun at 42 degrees Celsius.
Men cannot wear hats for the purpose of Ihram and Hajj. Many were seen at the Grand Mosque this week shielding themselves with umbrellas, prayer rugs and, in one case, a small bucket, while women covered their heads with veils.
#VideoHajj pilgrims come to the Jamarat Bridge to lay stones on the Great Akaba.
Source: Saudi TV#Ramadan #report_reader_always pic.twitter.com/627MiilGPa
– Al Bayan Newspaper (@AlBayanNews) July 9, 2022
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