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Muslim pilgrims symbolically resume stoning of the devil as they conclude the Hajj in deadly heat

Muslim pilgrims symbolically resume stoning of the devil as they conclude the Hajj in deadly heat

MINNA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Muslim pilgrims took advantage of the early morning hours Monday to perform a second day of symbolic stoning of the devil, hoping to escape the midday summer heat that caused heatstroke and sunburns among the thousands who concluded their route. Hajj trip.

The last days of Hajj coincide with Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid al-Adha.

Pillars representing Satan are stoned in Mina, a desert plain outside The city of Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is scheduled to stone the Jamarat for the third time on Tuesday, before the farewell circumambulation, or the cube-shaped circumambulation The Kaaba in Mecca.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to perform the five-day Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able to do so. The Hajj rituals largely commemorate in the Qur’an the Prophet Abraham, his son the Prophet Ishmael, and Ishmael’s mother Hagar – or Abraham and Ishmael as they are called in the Bible.

These rituals were held under the high summer heat, which at 2 p.m. reached 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) in Mecca and the holy places in and around the city, according to the Saudi National Center for Metrology.

“Of course, it is very difficult and tiring. The temperature is abnormal compared to previous years and this affects us a lot,” said Ahmed ElBaradei, an Egyptian pilgrim, after completing the stoning of stones for the second time.

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The Ministry of Health announced that more than 2,760 pilgrims suffered from sunstroke and heat exhaustion on Sunday alone at the beginning of the first stoning of stones. Jordan announced on Sunday the death of 14 Jordanian pilgrims due to sunstroke.

The number of pilgrims on the roads leading to the pillars decreased significantly on Monday morning compared to Sunday.

Carrying an umbrella to protect against the scorching sun, Pakistani pilgrim Khuda Bakhsh visited the stoning site on Monday morning and plans to return at sunset. “After two or three hours, (the temperature) may be very high,” he said.

Experts say heat exhaustion and heatstroke are likely to become more common at high temperatures, with symptoms including heavy sweating, dizziness, muscle cramps and vomiting. Heatstroke is the most serious of heat-related illnesses and occurs when the body loses its ability to sweat.

Security forces, paramedics and first responders were deployed in and around Mina, especially on roads and open areas, to guide and assist pilgrims. They have treated many people for sunburn on their feet.

“I’m really impressed with the preparations,” Sani Abdullahi, a Nigerian, told The Associated Press, adding that he was used to such scorching heat in his country. “I’ve had no problems at all. Everything runs smoothly.”

Later in the day, the sky turned cloudy and rain fell for a while, which helped alleviate the desert heat.

Mina is the place where Muslims believe the faith of Abraham, peace be upon him, was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael. Abraham was ready to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. In both the Christian and Jewish versions of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his other son, Isaac. The Eid al-Adha holiday celebrates Abraham’s surrender to God.

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The stoning of stones began on Sunday, the day after the pilgrims visited Holy Mount Arafat Where they spent their day in worship and meditation. The rituals at Mount Arafat, known as the Hill of Mercy, are considered the culmination of the Hajj.

The pilgrims collected pebbles, which they used to symbolically throw pillars, from Muzdalifah, an area located a few kilometers from Mount Arafat.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on Earth. The rituals officially began on Friday when pilgrims moved from the Grand Mosque in Mecca to Mina, and then to Mount Arafat. They then return to Mina, where they spend up to three days, each throwing seven pebbles at three pillars in a ritual symbolizing the elimination of evil and sin.

While in Mina, pilgrims visit Mecca to perform “tawaf,” which is circumambulation around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque counterclockwise seven times. Then another circumambulation, the Farewell Tawaf, will mark the end of the Hajj as the pilgrims prepare to leave the Holy City.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women are expected to cut off a lock of hair as a sign of renewal.

Most pilgrims then leave Mecca for Medina, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray at the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad, the Holy Chamber. The tomb is part of the Prophet’s Mosque, which is one of the three holiest places in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

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This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of… The devastating war between Israel and HamasWhich pushed the Middle East to the brink of regional conflict.

The war led to the deaths of more than 37,000 Palestinians in the besieged Strip, according to health officials in Gaza, while hundreds more were killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were unable to travel to Mecca to perform Hajj this year due to the closure of the Rafah crossing in May, when Israel expanded its ground attack on the city on the border with Egypt.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed the Hajj in 2024, slightly less than 1.84 million last year, according to data issued by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. This year’s numbers included more than 1.6 million pilgrims from 22 countries, and about 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents.