More than 1.7 million Muslims gather for start of hajj

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MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) – In Saudi Arabia, greater than 1.7 million pilgrims are marking the beginning of the hajj pilgrimage on Wednesday by circling the dice-formed Kaaba in Mecca – Islam’s holiest website – and performing a collection of rites that hint the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims consider the rites additionally hint the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail – Abraham and Ishmael within the Bible.

The Kaaba represents the metaphorical home of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Observant Muslims all over the world face towards the Kaaba in the course of the 5 every day prayers.

The hajj is required of all Muslims as soon as in a lifetime. The bodily demanding journey exams pilgrims’ endurance as they stand up to lengthy waits and thick crowds on their path to attaining religious purification and repentance.

Egyptian pilgrim Ahmed Ali, on his first hajj, stated he was grateful to be in Mecca.

“It is an indescribable feeling, a religious feeling. Because of God, I really feel nice,” he stated.

A 104-yr-previous Indonesian lady is amongst these performing the hajj this yr, in line with Saudi authorities. Ibu Mariah Marghani Muhammad is becoming a member of greater than 220,000 pilgrims from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The journey of the 5-day-lengthy pilgrimage begins for a lot of once they depart from their nations wearing “ihram.” For males, that entails sporting solely terrycloth, seamless white clothes meant to symbolize unity amongst Muslims and equality earlier than God. Ladies put on unfastened clothes, cowl their hair and forgo make-up and nail polish to realize a state of humility and religious purity.

After prayers in Mecca, pilgrims will head to an space referred to as Mount Arafat on Thursday the place the Prophet Muhammad delivered his ultimate sermon. From there, pilgrims will head to an space referred to as Muzdalifa, choosing up pebbles alongside the best way for a symbolic stoning of the satan and a casting away of sins that takes place within the Mina valley for 3 days.

Through the years, the Saudi authorities has spent billions of dollars to enhance the security of the pilgrimage, notably in Mina the place a few of the deadliest incidents have occurred, together with a stampede and a collision of two crowds that crushed individuals beneath the pressure in 2015 that killed greater than 2,four hundred individuals.

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