Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Muslim pilgrims gather pebbles for last major hajj rite

24 September 2015, 10:00

Muzdalifah - A sea of Muslim pilgrims moved on Wednesday towards the holy site of Muzdalifah in Saudi Arabia, where they gather pebbles for the last major rite of this year's hajj.

Their symbolic stoning of the devil on Thursday will coincide with the Eid al-Adha feast of sacrifice marked by the world's more than 1.5 billion Muslims.

Around two million white-clad faithful spent a day of prayer Wednesday on a vast Saudi plain and its Mount Arafat for the peak of the hajj pilgrimage.

Police sirens pierced the air and helicopters hovered overhead as the faithful later arrived at nearby Muzdalifah, where water sprays cooled them. They placed prayer rugs and mats on the ground where they will remain until dawn. Many laid down to rest but others savoured tea and refreshments offered by fellow pilgrims.

Most were busy choosing the pebbles they planned to use for the next day's stoning, storing them in empty water bottles.

"We are implementing the prophet's sunnah (tradition)" by gathering the stones, said Mezian Abdelkarim, 60, of Algeria.

"We pick up a total of 49 pebbles to stone the devil," said Bangladeshi pilgrim Shafiq al-Alim, who is performing the pilgrimage for his dead grandmother.

He and others had earlier prayed and recited the Koran at Mount Arafat, a 300-metre-high (328 yards) slippery, rocky hill where they believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on hajj.

Carrying colourful umbrellas as protection from the searing heat, they had walked from dawn in massive crowds towards the plain and its hill - also known as Mount Mercy.

Also read: Muslim pilgrims mass in Mecca for hajj

"We prayed as much as we could, with much spirituality," said Mohammed Zahran, 39, of Lebanon.

Unlike in previous years, only a few pilgrims were seen carrying their countries' flags, in what Saudi media said was a "ban" during the pilgrimage.

The kingdom's authorities have repeatedly warned against the use of political slogans or banners during hajj.

Saudi Arabia's civil defence agency reported more than 200 cases of "fainting and fatigue" after doors failed to operate and crowds formed at a station of the Mashair Railway, which moves pilgrims between the holy sites.

The faithful gathered in their hundreds of thousands for noon prayers at Mount Arafat, where Saudi Arabia's top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Shaikh, gave his annual sermon.

He used the opportunity to attack Yemen's Iran-backed rebels, against whom the kingdom has been leading a military coalition since March. The Huthi rebels at war with Saudi and Gulf troops in Yemen are "a group of criminals," Shaikh charged.

Most Yemeni pilgrims performing the hajj this year already reside in the kingdom.

After Muzdalifah, some pilgrims head to Mecca to circumambulate the cube-shaped holy Kaaba structure while others go to Mina -- a tent city which will be the final stop for pilgrims and where the stoning ritual occurs.

It emulates the Prophet Abraham, who is said to have stoned the devil at three locations when he tried to dissuade Abraham from God's order to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

- Unity of pilgrims -

Almost 1.4 million foreign pilgrims are joining hundreds of thousands of Saudis and residents of the kingdom for this year's hajj.

They are undeterred by a construction crane collapse at Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, that killed 109 people including foreign pilgrims earlier this month.

About 400 people were injured by the crane which was working on an expansion of the mosque.

Previously marred by stampedes and fires that killed hundreds, the pilgrimage had been largely incident-free for the past nine years after safety improvements.

The hajj is among the five pillars of Islam and every capable Muslim must perform it at least once in a lifetime.

For many, it is the spiritual peak of their lives.

This year's gathering takes place against a backdrop of increased jihadist violence in some Muslim countries, a surge of the potentially deadly MERS virus, as well as the war in Saudi Arabia's neighbour Yemen.

Authorities say they are on alert for possible attacks by extremists, after Islamic State group jihadists bombed security forces and Shiite mosques in the kingdom in recent months.

Potential transmission of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is another challenge facing authorities but health officials say there has never been a case of MERS infection among pilgrims.

Hajj began on Tuesday when pilgrims entered ihram, a state of purity in which they must not quarrel, wear perfume, or cut their nails or hair.

During ihram, men wear a seamless two-piece shroud-like white garment, while women must wear loose dresses, generally also white, exposing only their faces and hands.

The clothing emphasises the unity of pilgrims, regardless of their nationality or whether they stay in one of Mecca's five-star hotels or a shabby high-rise hostel.


Tags mecca hajj

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...