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Pilgrims climb Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat near the holy city of Makkah yesterday.
MUZDALIFAH: Massive throngs of pilgrims yesterday headed for the town of Muzdalifah to collect stones for the final ritual of the Haj which marks the first day of Eid Al Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
Men, women and children from 189 countries flooded roads linking Mount Arafat, where they had spent the peak Haj day in prayer and reflection, to Muzdalifah. There, the symbolic “stoning of the devil” which begins early today is followed by the ritual sacrifice of an animal, usually a lamb.
While many came by bus or used the Mashair Railway track linking the three holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina, hundreds of thousands were on foot. Some carried small children on their shoulders while others pushed elderly pilgrims on wheelchairs.
Cars, buses and the avalanche of humans — men in white “Ihram” shrouds and women covered from head to foot except for their hands and faces — all moved together as police and ambulance sirens sounded into the early evening.
At noon prayers in Namira mosque at Arafat yesterday, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Sheikh warned pilgrims against using any “national or extreme slogans” during their stay in the kingdom.
He also criticised those who “nowadays call for a civil democratic state not linked to Islamic law and which acknowledges many forbidden acts... This contradicts the teachings of Islam as well as the Quran, Sunnah and Shariah” law. “Our Muslim world is facing tragedies and bloodshed,” he said, calling on people and leaders to “work on dialogue... end bloodshed, not resort to the use of arms,” and not to implement “foreign” agendas.
In the crowds, Syrian worshippers were seen carrying a large rebel flag. Libyan Ruqaya Al Fayturi, 58, said she was praying for “security and stability in Libya and all other Arab and Muslim countries”. For Mai, a 34-year-old Egyptian, Haj is a “gift” from God that she will use to pray for “victory and peace in Egypt and all Muslim countries,” she said. Jalal, a Yemeni, said he was “praying for the return of peace to Yemen”.