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Spirited Hajis stone the Jamarat

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Chanting Allah-o-Akbar (God is Greatest), more than two million pilgrims stoned the Jamrat Al-Aqaba, one of the three pillars representing Satan, in Mina on Saturday. The pilgrims came to Mina from Muzdalifa where they spent Friday night under the open skies. The weather was pleasant and the pilgrims had no great difficulty in sleeping.

In Muzdalifa they collected pebbles to perform the stoning ritual. The main mode of transport from Muzdalifa to Mina and Jamarat was the train service. The trains ferried hundreds and thousands to the Jamarat complex from Muzdalifa. What otherwise would take hours, the train ride took a mere 15 minutes.

At the Jamarat complex, the ritual went on unhindered and uninterrupted. Helicopters flew overhead and security forces on the ground guided pilgrims in the right direction.

“We had apprehensions as to whether we will be able to perform all these daunting rituals,” said Syed Hamidullah, from Kanpur, India. “But thanks to good arrangements we could do everything with remarkable ease.”

At the train station, an elderly Saudi was very happy with the smooth flow of pilgrims. “We should thank Allah for these blessings,” he told Arab News. “The biggest blessing is that we are Muslims.”

There was a sense of jubilation and exhilaration among the pilgrims after the stoning ritual.

“I am very happy to have stoned the Satan,” said Sajid Jamaluddin, from Karachi. “All this is symbolic and it demonstrates the victory of good over evil,” he said.

Mishaal Mustafa, from Cairo, said the ritual was in essence the triumph of all that is good in mankind. “We are essentially reminding ourselves that we have shut the door on our past in which we committed sins at the instigation of Satan,” he said. “I now feel like I have been born anew. I have taken a vow to be a good person.”

Rumana Khan, from the UK, was too happy to have performed Haj. “When we say Haj is a lifetime experience, it indeed is. It teaches you so many things, it teaches you patience, it teaches you tolerance, to be forgiving. Haj brings out the best in us,” she said.

Abdullah Al-Shahri, a young Saudi from Taif, said the feeling of unity at Haj is incredible. “There are pilgrims from all parts of the world, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, we all are equal in the eyes of Allah,” he said. “And the thing that we need to keep thinking about is that if we can unite here in Arafat and Mina, then we can unite in the world beyond the holy sites,” he said. “I prayed for global unity of Muslims.”

The stoning ritual will continue for two more days during which pilgrims hurl seven stones every day at each of the three wall-like pillars. Arab News

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