MUZDALIFA/MINA, Saudi Arabia – Hajj pilgrims observed the third day of the pilgrimage by performing a series of rituals at the Holy site of Mina on Wednesday. This coincided with the Muslim world’s celebration of the commencement of Eid Al-Adha. Hajj continues until Saturday, July 1.
Following the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the pilgrims offered prayers at dawn on Wednesday (10 Dhul-Hijjah 1444 AH) following which they headed from Muzdalifa to Mina, near Makkah, where each of them threw seven pebbles at the largest of the three pillars of Jamrat Al-Aqaba in a symbolic ritual of ‘stoning of the devil’.
After completing the stoning of Jamrat Al-Aqaba, it is customary for pilgrims to perform certain acts on this day. They begin by sacrificing animals, followed by shaving their heads and circumambulating the Holy Kaaba. Additionally, they undertake the Sa’i ritual, which involves traversing between the hills of Safa and Marwah. Following the Sunnah of the Prophet, the pilgrims continue to fulfill their Hajj obligations and remain in Mina for the days of Tashreeq, namely the 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul Hijjah (June 29-July 1).
The movement of the multitudes of pilgrims proceeded seamlessly, following a well-prepared plan and implementing necessary precautionary measures. Teams comprising security, health, sanitation, and civil defense personnel have been on standby to ensure the safety, security, and comfort of the pilgrims who gathered in the courtyards of Jamarat Bridge, as well as its entrances and exits.
Previously, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance had announced the successful arrival of all pilgrims at Muzdalifa. This followed their gathering at Mount Arafat on Tuesday for the summit of the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, Muslims worldwide observed the first day of Eid Al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz; and His Royal Highness Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, sent congratulatory cables to the leaders of Islamic countries on the happy occasion of Eid Al-Adha, “praying to God Almighty to accept good deeds from everyone, and to return this happy occasion to the Islamic nation with glory and empowerment, and with more progress and prosperity,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
World leaders including the US President Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, also extended their wishes and greetings to the Muslims around the world, including those partaking the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
More than 1.85 million pilgrims d performed Hajj of the Islamic year 1444 AH (2023 CE), of whom 1.66 million were international pilgrims who arrived from various countries via air, sea and land ports, while 184,130 were domestic pilgrims, comprising Saudis and residents. A total of 4,951 pilgrims from 92 countries joined the Hajj pilgrimage under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah, organized by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance in cooperation with various other sectors, SPA reported.
The Crown Prince’s speech
On behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, HRH Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman received a number of Princes, the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom, senior scholars and sheikhs, GCC senior officials, ministers, and the leaders of the military sectors and scouts participating in this year’s Hajj at the Royal Court in Mina Palace, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
In a speech during the meeting, HRH the Crown Prince said:
“In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, and prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammed, his family, and all his companions. …
“I am pleased, on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, to congratulate you, the citizens, residents, and pilgrims, on the blessed Eid Al-Adha occasion.
“Your blessed efforts, along with those of other state agencies, to serve the pilgrims, ensure their comfort, and maintain their security, are a source of pride for us. We will continue to exert efforts and harness our capabilities to facilitate the performance of Hajj at all times.
“The great sacrifices, acts of honor, and heroism that you make to preserve the security of your country and its holy shrines reflect the approach followed by the people of this country since its founding. Our people will not hesitate to protect its security, maintain its stability, and preserve its capabilities. We pray to Allah to protect our country and bless it with security and peace.”
Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, the Director of Public Security and Chairman of the Hajj Security Committee, delivered a speech on behalf of the military sectors participating in the Hajj, SPA reported. He emphasized that the Hajj security plans for this year were implemented smoothly until now in accordance with the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and HRH the Crown Prince.
Also ensuring the operational success through direct supervision of the operations were the Minister of Interior, Chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, and with the oversight of the Governor of the Makkah Region, Chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, and the Governor of the Madinah Region, Chairperson of the Hajj and Visit Committee, he said. “These efforts have contributed to enhancing the security and organizational plans, aiming to prevent any attempt to disrupt the security of Hajj and ensure security, safety, and comfort for the pilgrims.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, officials from the Ministries of Hajj and Umrah, Health, Interior and Transport and Logistics Services, provided an update on the pilgrims’ status on the third day of Hajj.
Colonel Talal Al-Shalhoub, security spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the transportation and distribution of pilgrims have been executed with great success, and according to plans. “The security forces will continue to manage crowds at all facilities at the holy sites,” he added.
Dr. Ayed Algwinm, Deputy Minister for Hajj affairs, at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said the transfer of pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifa was completed in an efficient manner. “The transportation of pilgrims from Muzdalifa to Mina was accomplished within a span of 10 hours, and encompassed all necessary considerations,” he said. The slaughtering of sacrifices and handling of sacrificial animals were conducted in adherence to the highest environmental standards, he added.
Dr. Mohammed al-Abd al-Ali, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said that more than 215,000 pilgrims benefited from health services during Hajj, up until the first day of Eid. There were 4,000 hospital admissions, with the Kingdom providing the most proficient personnel and cutting-edge capabilities, he said.
Heat stress affected 6,700 individuals due to high temperatures. Pilgrims received 3,500 consultations through the virtual hospital services this year, he added.
Saleh Al-Zuwaid, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport and Logistics System, said that more than 396,000 pilgrims were transported from Muzdalifa to Mina via the Al-Mashaer train. “We are preparing for the commencement of departure services,” he said, adding that the aviation sector is arranging for the transportation of pilgrims through six airports.
‘Stoning the devil’
The ritual of ‘stoning the devil’ commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s temptation by the devil, in which the angel Gabriel instructed him to stone the devil when he appeared to him at Stone-Heap of the Defile, after Prophet Ibrahim became tempted not to sacrifice his son, Ismail. The ritual signifies the casting aside of one’s lowly impulses and temptations.
The ritual of animal sacrifice, symbolizing Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son Ismail before God, is also observed on the third day of the pilgrimage. Pilgrims have a choice – either to participate in this ritual or have their portion of the sacrifice donated to charity.
Pilgrims also started performing Tawaf Al-Ifadah, or the circumambulation of the Kaaba in a counterclockwise movement at the Grand Mosque of Makkah. The entry of pilgrims to the Grand Mosque was organized as per the crowd-management procedures put in place to ensure their safety, security and comfort. The General Presidency for the Affair of the Two Holy Mosques and all other concerned authorities organized the pilgrims’ entry and exit.
Many pilgrims part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah expressed deep gratitude and appreciation to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and to HRH Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman for their great care for and attention to the pilgrims.