[Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Makkah. (File photo: AFP) ]
Mina: Around two million Hajj pilgrims from around the world, who arrived in Mina at dawn on Monday September 12, 2016 after standing on Mount Arafat Sunday and later spending the night at Muzadilfah, have begun the ritual of Jamarat al-Aqaba (Stoning of the Devil).
The ritual is being performed by the Hajj pilgrims from over 164 countries as smoothly as ever even as King Salman, who is also present in Mina, is personally monitoring the security arrangement.
Saudi King Salman arrived in Mina on Sunday to ensure the pilgrims can "perform their rituals easily, conveniently and safely", the official Saudi Press Agency reported. He was also briefed on preparations for the safe movement of pilgrims between Muzdalifah and Mina.
A number of safety measures have been introduced to prevent a repeat of last year’s tragedy as they made their way to the Jamarat Bridge to perform the stoning.
On Monday, Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other Arab States along with those in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom are also marking one of two Islamic holidays, known in Arabic as Eid al-Adha, commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael as a test of his faith from God.
For the stoning ritual, pilgrims will be filing in to crowds through a multi-level structure housing three pillars symbolizing the devil.
The ritual is an emulation of Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade him from obeying God’s order to sacrifice his son, Ismael.
The stoning ritual is performed three times over the coming days.
The first comes at the start of Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, Islam’s holiest, which is marked by more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.
After the stoning, sheep are slaughtered and the meat distributed to needy Muslims, symbolising Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail on the orders of Allah, who provided a lamb in the boy’s place at the last moment.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.