Age-old haj stoning of devil pillars in modern multistory complex
(Photo: Haj pilgrims stone pillars symbolising the devil in Mena outside Mecca, 27 Nov 2009/Caren Firouz)
Around two million Muslim pilgrims stoned pillars symbolising the devil in a narrow valley in Saudi Arabia on Friday at what has traditionally been the most dangerous stage of the haj pilgrimage. The pillars stand at Mena, where Muslims believe the devil appeared to the Prophet Abraham.
The Jamarat Bridge in the valley of Mena outside the holy city of Mecca, where pilgrims stone the walls three times over three to four days, has been the scene of a number of stampedes, including one which killed 362 in 2006. But Saudi Arabia has erected a massive four-level building with several platforms for throwing stones to ease congestion and prevent stampedes at the Jamarat stoning areas.
(Photo: Haj pilgrims walk from camp to Jamarat to throw stones at pillars in Mena 27 Nov 2009/Caren Firouz)
Throngs of predominantly white-clad pilgrims filled the road that leads them to and from the Jamarat Bridge. Some stopped to buy fried chicken nuggets while groups from different countries formed human chains with their fellow countrymen to move more quickly through the crowds.
“Fighting evil temptations is a daily chore for every Muslim,” said Mohammad Haq Shahinaz from Pakistan, holding hands with his wife as they struggled to push ahead in the crowded road to the Jamarat bridge. “But by stoning these concrete pillars here we indicate that we only worship Allah and we will not follow Satan’s path.”
Fathi Ahmed Mohammed from Egypt Egyptian threw seven stones at the pillar, calling out “Allahu akbar” after each throw. “We thanked Allah for His grace and … prayed for the unity of Muslims to glorify Islam and help us prevail over the infidels and the Jews,” he said.
Mohamed al-Yami, a Saudi from southern Najran province, pushed his way among the crowds after he finished the ritual. “I have a sheep to slaughter,” he said, referring to the sacrifice for Eid al-Adha (feast of sacrifice).
Here’s a video of the stoning ritual: