Muslim hajj pilgrims perform “stoning of the devil” ritual

Almost 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims took part Sunday in the “stoning of the devil”, the last major ritual of the annual hajj pilgrimage that in previous years led to deadly stampedes. 

Carrying pebbles in the scorching heat, worshippers made their way across Mina Valley near Mecca in western Saudi Arabia to symbolically “humiliate” the devil. 

Under the watchful eyes of security forces, waves of pilgrims clad in white threw seven stones each at a pillar symbolising Satan. 

This was Akjar’s first hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim is required to complete at least once in their lifetime if they are healthy enough and have the means to do so. 

Muslim tradition holds that pilgrims must throw seven stones each at a pillar representing Satan on the first day of Eid al-Adha, following two days of prayer and meditation. 

The hajj, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings, this year officially drew 2.49 million pilgrims to Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia. 

The stoning ritual is not without risk, as millions of pilgrims converge on a tight space and the pebbles often miss their mark amid the screams of worshippers. 

Mina has been the site of deadly stampedes such as in 2015 when more than 2,300 pilgrims were crushed, trampled or suffocated to death. 

Authorities have since reinforced safety and security measures. (Vanguard)

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