Muslims from all around the globe have started performing the main rituals of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca.
The rituals officially started on Wednesday when around three million pilgrims launched their journey to Mina, a small village east of Mecca. After spending day one in Mina, pilgrims go to the Mount of Arafat where they face Mecca and spend the entire second day praying.
For the final two days, the pilgrims will perform the ritual of Tawaf, and circle the Kaaba seven times while reciting prayers. After the seventh act of going around the most sacred site in Islam, pilgrims travel back and forth between the two hills of al-Safa and al-Marwah seven times to commemorate the wife of Prophet Abraham, Hagar’s search for water and Allah’s mercy in answering prayers.
The spiritual ceremony will reach its peak on Friday with the Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) holiday.During Eid al-Adha, marked across the Muslim world; the pilgrims will throw stones at rock pillars that represent the devil. Muslims will then sacrifice sheep, goats, or camels to show their gratitude for Allah’s generosity and blessing and distribute the meat among the poor.
Eid al-Adha marks Prophet Abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Earnest supplication, devotion, tears, and praying for Allah’s abundant forgiveness characterize the Hajj pilgrimage. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and the largest act of mass pilgrimage in the world. The holy pilgrimage is also a demonstration of Muslims’ unity and their submission to Allah. Every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to perform the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.