Hajj 2017: Pilgrims cast about 98 million pebbles at the devil

Stoning of the devil in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

An estimated 98 million pebbles were cast by two million pilgrims from across the world during the three days of symbolic stoning of the devil that ended on Sunday.

Of this figure, a total of 3,871,000 pebbles were from the hands of about 79,000 Nigerian pilgrims at the exercise.

The two million pilgrims from all over the world converged on Arafat on Thursday after their arrival on Wednesday in Muna camp via the holy city of Makkah for the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj – the largest of its kind in the world.

The Saudi Arabia High Judicial Court confirmed that the 2017 pilgrimage began on August 30 and ended September 4.

To complete one of the pillars of Islam, Muslims are required to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.

The pilgrims made their way towards the massive multi-storey complex in Muna after dawn on Friday to cast pebbles at three large columns where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) out of submitting to God’s will.

The huge crowd, which moved in batches, took part in the stoning under strict surveillance, with security barricades guiding the flow of pilgrims. Cameras were also installed everywhere and helicopters hovered in the sky in case of any emergency.

On Friday, the day pilgrims moved from Musdalifah (where they passed the night) straight to Jamarat, official figures estimated that 14 million pebbles were cast with each pilgrim casting seven on only the ‘Jamaratul Akbah’ (Big Column), after which many of the pilgrims proceeded to Makkah to perform Tawaf and Sa’i, the slaughter of the ram.

Thereafter, the male pilgrims shaved their hair while the female pilgrims cut a small portion of theirs.

On Saturday, the 11th day of Zhul Hajj, pilgrims again cast seven pebbles each on Small, Middle and the Big Jamarat, putting the total number of pebbles cast on that day at 42 million.

This exercise was repeated on the 12th of Zhul Hajj with another 42 million pebbles cast, signifying the end of the Hajj exercise (for those who had already performed their Thawaf and Sa’i) and evacuation of all pilgrims from Muna to Makkah.

The total figure of pebbles cast may, however, be less because it is permissible for pilgrims to leave Muna for Makkah before 4 p.m. after the rite on the 11th of Zhul.

It is however permissible for pebbles to be cast for a pilgrim by a representative.

At least 717 pilgrims from around the world were killed during the 2015 exercise in a stampede while on their way to perform the rite to cast pebbles on the Big Jamarat while about 863 others were injured.

Saudi authorities said it was the worst disaster during the annual pilgrimage in 25 years. In July 1990, 1,426 pilgrims were suffocated to death in a tunnel near Makkah.

Nevertheless, the 2016 and 2017 Hajj rites at the Jamarat were hitch-free due to safety measures taken by the Saudi authorities.

There was a coordinated control of the crowd and deployment of ambulances to handle any emergency within meters along the about three kilometer path of pilgrims under harsh temperature above 40 degree Celsius, from Muna to Jamarat and along the road to Makkah.


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