Monday, 29 October 2012

Pilgrims rush to complete the final Hajj rituals

AFP

MINA Muslim pilgrims rushed to complete the last rituals of the annual hajj on Sunday as they are the devil stoning site in Saudi Arabia's Mina Valley on the penultimate day of the pilgrimage.

Most pilgrims cast stones at three pillars that Satan if they leave the Holy City of Mina before sunset.

Others, however, continue until Monday when they will perform the ritual one last time.

Mina Valley, abandoned throughout the year and come to live only during the Hajj seemed like it is hit by an earthquake, with sheets, sleeping mats and tents scattered on roads where pilgrims had been camping for days.

An overwhelming stench filled the air, as garbage bags were piled high along the roadsides.

"As you can see, we have suffered from the dirt," said Syrian pilgrim Mohammed Ruba, who sat with her family squeezed in a shady spot between two trucks. "But it was sweet suffering." Believers outside Makkah will have to return there to perform the circumambulation of the Kaaba, the cube-shaped goodbye structure at the Grand Mosque direction that Muslims worldwide pray.

The Hajj officially ends on Monday but pilgrims who are in a hurry to close their pilgrimage can do on Sunday.

"I hope I will be able to run again in the future of the Hajj" said Um Hassan from Iraq. "It was a great experience." Able-bodied Muslims must perform the Hajj at least once in their lives.

"We will never experienced anything better," said Rajab Ibrahim, a 42-year-old Egyptian who with fellow pilgrims under a colorful sheet was stretched between two cars to protect them from the scorching sun.

"You feel here internal peace. You forget everything else. " Although in the past marred by deadly incidents, including floods, forest fires, the Hajj become hollow and almost incident-free in recent years because of projects of multi-billion dollar.

This year alone spent the Kingdom more than 1.1 billion Riyals ($ 293,3 million) of development projects in the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, everything outside Makkah.

The devil stoning at Mina, passed even the most dangerous phase of the Hajj when hol and burning in the tented camps wreaked havoc, without incident this year.

Most of the tents are now fire and gas vessels and cooking are prohibited. The stoning area is also extended to prevent overpopulation.

Saudi authorities have a five-level structure resembles a large parking place around the stoning site, allowing the smooth flow of pilgrims built.

Makkah gov. Prince Khaled al Faisal told reporters turnout this year was nearly four million people because of a large increase in the number of pilgrims without permits, mainly foreign residents of Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrimage peak on Mount Arafat on Thursday when Muslims in the vast arid plains camped, spending the day in prayer and reflection.

On that day joined Iranians their annual "rejection of polytheists" rally, promoted by the late Iranian leader a ritual Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini denouncing the West and Israel.

Participants said that the rally was held in the Iranian camp without any interference from the Saudi authorities, although in the past police have confronted Iranian pilgrims for anti-u.s. and anti-Israeli protests.

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