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Photos: Hajj pilgrimage reaches its peak

a3e7785ec3b8407e9e12f354cbefd18c-157e6cda385f45b980f8261575d18de9-2Over two million Muslims from across the world, uniformly wearing a plain white garment, have poured into Valley of Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca, celebrating Eid al-Adha, as the annual Hajj pilgrimage reaches its peak.

On the 10th of Zul hajjat al-Haram on the Islamic lunar calendar, which marks the Eid al-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice across the Muslim world in commemoration of the sacrifices made by Prophet Abraham and his household, the pilgrims return to Mina and throw seven pebbles at a stone pillar that represents the Satan.

The symbolic ritual is the reenactment of Prophet Abraham’s hurling stones at Satan as he tried to tempt Abraham against sacrificing his son, Ismail. The move symbolizes the conquering of self-temptation.

Following the stoning of the symbolic Satan, the pilgrims move on to slaughter sheep or cattle, the reenactment of the story of Prophet Abraham, who was provided with a sheep to sacrifice as a substitute for his son, whom he attempted to sacrifice for God despite his deep affection for Ismail.

All the meat from the slaughtered sheep is supposed to be distributed for consumption among the needy families and friends as well as the poor in the community.

Meanwhile, male pilgrims are also required to shave their heads as part of the ritual.

Following the sacrifice, the pilgrims return to Mecca to end the formal rites of Hajj by performing a final tawaf (circumambulation) and walking to and from the hills of Safa and Marwa, symbolizing the long walk in the desert by Abraham’s wife, Sarah, in search of water for her infant son.

Muslims believe the rites of the Hajj were designed by God and taught through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

All Muslims across the globe join the pilgrims in Mecca, in celebrating Eid al-Adha, marking the conclusion of the pilgrimage rites. On this merry and widely-celebrated occasion, Muslims throughout the world wear their nicest clothes and attend special prayers in the morning, which is followed by a short sermon.

During the holiday, many Muslims also visit the homes of family and friends and other loved ones and partake in festive meals.
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