Muslim pilgrims take part in stoning of the devil as Hajj pilgrimage winds down
This year’s pilgrimage was the first in three years to be held without coronavirus restrictions and drew more than 1.8 million Muslims from all corners of the Earth.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam, required of all Muslims at least once in their lives if they are able.
For the pilgrims, it is a deeply spiritual journey that wipes away sins and affirms the unity of the worldwide Muslim community.
It began with pilgrims circling the Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the cube-shaped structure to which Muslims face during their five daily prayers.
The spiritual high point came on Tuesday, when when pilgrims flocked to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon.
During the final three days of the Hajj, pilgrims cast stones at pillars representing the devil, a reenactment of the temptation of the Prophet Ibrahim as related in Muslim traditions.
Christian and Jewish traditions refer to him as Abraham.
Those three days coincide with Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, when Muslims the world over slaughter sheep and cattle and share the meat with the poor.
This year the Hajj was held in intense heat, with daytime temperatures reaching 45C.
The Saudi Health Ministry said it treated thousands of pilgrims for heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
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