Hajj Pilgrims Perform Devil-Stoning Ritual Near Mecca

Hajj Pilgrims Perform Devil-Stoning Ritual Near Mecca

Hajj Pilgrims Perform Devil-Stoning Ritual Near Mecca

Their palms facing the sky, around two million Muslims gathered Thursday on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat for the highlight of the hajj pilgrimage, one of the world's largest annual gatherings.

The incredible images show Muslims performing the Tawaf by circling the Kaaba - the cube-shaped shrine in the centre of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

All Muslims who are physically and financially able are required to make the journey to Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

Traditionally, seven pebbles are thrown at a post representing the devil.

The large crowds gathered from more than 160 countries around the world, dressed in almost identical white garments, are meant to symbolize unity among Muslims, humility and equality before God.

To prepare Americans for traveling to the hajj, the Council on American-Islamic Relations conducted a webinar that discussed people's rights while traveling at customs, US entry points and airport security checkpoints.

For the last three days of hajj, pilgrims sleep in a tent city in Mina with capacity for three million people to take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil.

The kingdom has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe at this year's hajj, according to the interior ministry.

The second day of the hajj - a five-day pilgrimage which all Muslims must perform - is dedicated to prayer and reflection.

Tussles in the courts over Trump's executive order, and the gradual dissipation of a ban on major electronics and laptops in cabins of flights from 10 mostly Muslim cities - including Jiddah, the main entry point for pilgrims on hajj - left many unsure about what their rights are while traveling.

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More than 2.35 million faithful participated in this year's Hajj, including more than 1.75 million, from all corners of the globe, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has said.

In previous years, jostling to perform the stoning before returning to Mecca accounted for numerous stampedes and crushes that have afflicted Haj.

In addition, he stressed that Saudi Arabia provided services to all pilgrims "without discrimination".

More than 42,000 from 83 countries have performed Haj during the past 21 years within the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' program for hosting pilgrims, which was established in 1417H (1996) during the time of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd.

The ritual marks the beginning of the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, known to Muslims as the "big Eid".

The relations further deteriorated after a crush of pilgrims in Mina, near Saudi Arabia's Mecca, in September 2015, which killed over 7,000 Hajj pilgrims, including 465 Iranians.

Recycling may not be at the top of pilgrims' minds, but Muslims have a duty to recognise the creator of the environment and reflect on Islamic teachings not to harm animals, waste water or cut down trees unnecessarily, said Fatima Ragie of Green Deen South Africa - a Muslim environmental network.

Two years ago, more than 700 people were killed and almost 900 were injured in a stampede while performing this ritual.

Standing at Mount Arafat in prayer before sunset on 9th Dul Hijjah is the high point of Hajj.

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