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One million Hajj pilgrims from around the world are heading to Muzdalifah after gathering at Mount Arafat on Friday, where they stood in prayer from noon until sunset on one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar.
The rocky areas of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah are a few kilometres east of Makkah where pilgrims have been gathering to perform the sacred rite of the Hajj pilgrimage, which culminates with Saturday’s Eid Al Adha holiday.
In Muzdalifah pilgrims will gather pebbles for the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual that begins on Saturday, which is also the start of the Eid Al Adha feast of sacrifice marked by more than 1.5 billion Muslims globally.
At Arafat, pilgrims combined their noon and afternoon prayers at Masjid Nimrah. At sunset, they combined both the maghrib and night prayers before making the 13-kilometre walk to Muzdalifah.
Throughout Friday, all pilgrims stood in vigil from noon to sunset to offer supplications, seek repentance, from where it is believed Islam’s Prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon. The ritual at Arafat is the most sacred day of Hajj and is considered compulsory for a successful pilgrimage.
“I am so happy to be here, like everyone else. This is the biggest Hajj in the coronavirus era, but it isn't big enough yet,” Egyptian pilgrim Saad Farhat Khalil, 49, told AFP.
“There are one million here today, but if the Saudis allowed more, 10 million would have come,” he said.
The Hajj, usually one of the world's largest annual religious gatherings, is among the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims able to do so are required to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in their lifetime.
In 2019, as in previous years, about 2.5 million Muslims from around the world took part, a figure that dropped to a few thousand in 2020 and 60,000 in 2021.