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Two Million Muslims Start Hajj Pilgrimage in Makkah

31 August, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Muslim pilgrims pray at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca Saudi Arabia Tuesday Aug. 29 2017

Nearly two million Muslims from around the world on Wednesday descended on Islam's holiest site Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a total 81,200 Nigerian pilgrims would join their Muslims counterparts from around the world to perform this year's hajj.

The Ministry of Health provides regular information and health tips in multiple languages while recommending pilgrims have pre and post-Hajj health screenings.

Iranians are once again participating this year after missing the last Hajj following a deadly stampede in 2015. This year, the advisory recommended that the elderly (65 years and up), those with chronic diseases, immune deficiency, malignancy and terminal illnesses, as well as pregnant women and children under 12 years, postpone their pilgrimage.

What is the hajj? It must be completed at least once by all Muslims who have the financial means to do so and are physically able.

Saraki further called on the pilgrims to pray for the security, peace, unity and development of the country as according to him, "a prayer for your country and her leaders is as important as asking Allah to grant you your personal wishes".

There are 221,000 Indonesians in Mecca to perform the rituals.

They will also slaughter their sacrificial animals and proceed to the Grand Mosque to do tawaf Al-Ifadah, which culminates the rites.

There, hundreds of thousands will gather before setting off on Thursday at dawn to climb Mount Arafat, the pinnacle of Hajj.

At the start of the Eid al-Adha feast, Muslims then take part in stoning ceremonies, where they toss pebbles at walls to represent the symbolic "stoning of the devil".

Since 1987, more than 5,800 people have died in building collapses, stampedes, trampling and fires.

It was the worst catastrophe in the history of the hajj, with 464 people from the Islamic republic among the dead. The pilgrimage is also a hotbed of infectious disease, as pilgrims from every corner of the planet often trek around in the heat barefoot and share tight sleeping quarters.

The tradition dates back to the prophet Ibrahim - known as Abraham to Jews and Christians - who built Kaaba at Islam's most sacred Mosque. Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic ties with President Bashar Assad's government and since 2012, requires all Syrians seeking to make the hajj to obtain visas in third countries through the "Syrian High Hajj Committee", which is controlled by the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition political group.

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