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Pilgrims start the ultimate rites of Haj as Muslims rejoice Eid al-Adha

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Masses of pilgrims on Sunday launched into a symbolic stoning of the satan in Saudi Arabia below the hovering summer season warmth. The ritual marks the ultimate days of the Haj, or Islamic pilgrimage, and the beginning of the Eid al-Adha celebrations for Muslims world wide.

The stoning is among the many remaining rites of the Haj, which is among the Five Pillars of Islam. It got here a day after greater than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated at a sacred hill, often known as Mount Ararat, exterior the holy metropolis of Mecca, which Muslim pilgrims go to to carry out the annual five-day rituals of Haj.

The pilgrims left Mount Arafat on Saturday night to spend their night time in a close-by web site often known as Muzdalifa, the place they collected pebbles to make use of within the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the satan.

The pillars are in one other sacred place in Mecca, known as Mina, the place Muslims consider Ibrahim’s religion was examined when God commanded him to sacrifice his solely son Ismail. Ibrahim was ready to undergo the command, however then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. In the Christian and Jewish variations of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his different son, Isaac.

On Sunday morning, crowds headed on foot to the stoning areas. Some had been seen pushing disabled pilgrims on wheelchairs on a multi-lane highway resulting in the advanced housing the big pillars. Most pilgrims had been seen sweltering and carrying umbrellas to guard them towards the burning summer season solar.

An Associated Press reporter noticed many pilgrims, particularly among the many aged, collapsing on the highway to the pillars due to the burning warmth. Security forces and medics had been deployed to assist, carrying those that fainted on gurneys out of the warmth to ambulances or subject hospitals. As the temperature spiked by noon, extra folks required medical assist.

Despite the suffocating warmth, many pilgrims expressed pleasure at having the ability to full their pilgrimage.

“Thank God, (the process) was joyful and good,” mentioned Abdel-Moaty Abu Ghoneima, an Egyptian pilgrim. “No one wants more than this.”

Many pilgrims will spend as much as three days in Mina, every casting seven pebbles at three pillars in a ritual to represent the casting away of evil and sin.

While in Mina, they are going to go to Mecca to carry out their “tawaf,” or circumambulation, which is circling the Kaaba within the Grand Mosque counterclockwise seven instances. Then one other circumambulation, the Farewell Tawaf, will mark the tip of Haj as pilgrims put together to go away the holy metropolis.

The rites coincide with the four-day Eid al-Adha, which implies “Feast of Sacrifice,” when Muslims with monetary means commentate Ibrahim’s take a look at of religion via slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

Most international locations marked Eid al-Adha on Sunday, others, like Indonesia, will rejoice it Monday.

Once the Haj is over, males are anticipated to shave their heads and take away the shroud-like white clothes worn throughout the pilgrimage, and ladies to snip a lock of hair in an indication of renewal and rebirth.

Most of the pilgrims then depart Mecca for the town of Medina, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to hope in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is a part of the prophet’s mosque, one of many three holiest websites in Islam, together with the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

All Muslims are required to make the Haj as soon as of their lives if they’re bodily and financially in a position to take action. Many rich Muslims make the pilgrimage greater than as soon as. The rituals largely commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail, Ismail’s mom Hajar and Prophet Muhammad, based on the Quran, Islam’s holy e-book.

More than 1.83 million Muslims carried out Haj in 2024, Saudi Haj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah mentioned in a briefing, barely lower than final yr’s figures when 1.84 million made the rituals.

Most of the Haj rituals are held open air with little if any shade. It is ready for the second week of Dhu al-Hijjah, the final month within the Islamic lunar calendar, so its time of the yr varies. And this yr the pilgrimage fell within the burning summer season of Saudi Arabia. The warmth soared to 47 C (116.6 F) at Mount Arafat on Saturday.

This yr’s Haj got here towards the backdrop of the devastating Israel-Hamas struggle, which has pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional battle.

Palestinians within the Gaza Strip weren’t capable of journey to Mecca for Haj this yr due to the closure of the Rafah crossing in May when Israel prolonged its floor offensive to the town on the border with Egypt. And they won’t be able to rejoice the Eid al-Adha as they used to do in earlier years.

Dozens of Palestinians gathered Sunday morning close to a destroyed mosque in Gaza’s southern metropolis of Khan Younis to carry out the Eid prayers. They had been surrounded by particles and rubble of collapsed homes. In the close by city of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, Muslims held their prayers in a school-turned shelter. Some, together with girls and youngsters, went to cemeteries to go to the graves of family members.

“Today, after the ninth month, more than 37 thousand martyrs, more than 87 thousand wounded, and hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed,” Abdulhalim Abu Samra, a displaced Palestinian, advised the AP after wrapping up the prayers in Khan Younis. “Our people live in difficult circumstances.”

Also in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians convened for the Eid prayers in Ramallah, the seat of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. “We suffer greatly and live through difficult moments with (what’s happening to) our brothers in Gaza,” said Mahmoud Mohana, a mosque imam.

In Yemen’s Houthi-held capital of Sanaa and in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, Muslims celebrated and prayed for the war-weary Palestinians in Gaza.

“We are happy because of Eid but our hearts are filled with anguish when we see our brothers in Palestine,” mentioned Bashar al-Mashhadani, imam of al-Gilani Mosque in Baghdad. “(We) urge the Arabic and Islamic international locations to assist and stand beside them on this ordeal.”

In Lebanon the place the militant Hezbollah group traded almost every day assaults with Israel, a gradual stream of tourists made their approach into the Palestine Martyrs Cemetery close to the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut early Sunday morning, bearing flowers and jugs of water for the graves of their family members, an annual custom on the primary day of Eid.

The cemetery is the burial web site of many Palestinian Liberation Organization leaders and militants who died combating Israeli forces in Lebanon within the Nineteen Seventies and 80s. More lately, high Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri and two different Hamas members killed with him, in an obvious Israeli airstrike in Beirut’s southern suburbs in January, had been buried there.

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