News   /   Saudi Arabia

Hajj 2022 nears its end as pilgrims carry out final rituals in Mecca

Worshippers circumambulate the Kaaba, Islam's holiest site, at Masjid al-Haram also known as the Great Mosque of Mecca, on July 9, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are performing final rituals, including circling around the holy Kaaba and stoning the devil, to mark the final days of the Hajj pilgrimage.

Some 1 million pilgrims from more than 150 countries convened in the city of Mecca this year to perform the biggest Hajj pilgrimage since the pandemic started in 2019.

The pilgrimage consists of different rituals which are performed on designated dates according to the lunar month. The rituals include Tawaf (ritual of circumambulating the Kaaba, the metaphorical house of God at the center of Mecca), Safa and Marwa (Muslims walk between the two hills of Safa and Marwa), Arafah (where Muslims stand in contemplative vigil), stoning the devil, sacrifice, and a final Tawaf among many other steps and details.

Many Muslim countries took Saturday as Eid al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice. According to lunar sightings, Iran designated Sunday as Eid. The day is when Hajj pilgrims throw seven peddles at walls in a place called Jamarat in a symbolic act of pushing Satan away before sacrificing an animal. Other Muslims around the world also mark this day by sacrificing animals and performing rituals while Muslim countries typically designate it as a national holiday. 

Back in Mecca, Hajj pilgrims then shave or trim their hair and stay at Mina, an area east of Mecca, for some nights.

One of the final rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage is Tawaf which refers to walking in circles around the Kaaba in an anti-clockwise motion. One Tawaf is made up of seven complete circuits, with each one starting and ending at the black stone.

The final Tawaf after Eid al-Adha allows pilgrims to relax and do everything that was unlawful during the pilgrimage, such as engaging in marital relations.

Hajj pilgrimage is one of the pillars of Islam that Muslims who have the means should perform at least once in their lives. Muslims typically save for years to take part in the event.

Pilgrimage amid pandemic

Saudi Arabia limited Hajj in the past two years to Saudi residents due to the pandemic while some 2.5 million people attended the ritual in 2019.

In 2020, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom to perform the ritual.

Hajj attendees hit 60,000 last year. However, the ritual was restricted to fully vaccinated Muslims who live in Saudi Arabia. The decision shocked Muslims around the globe who typically have to wait for years to make the journey.

With relaxed pandemic restrictions, Saudi authorities let roughly one million Muslims into the country to perform one of the most important rituals for Muslims.

Those performing the ritual this year must be under 65, vaccinated against the coronavirus, and have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel. The pilgrims are chosen from millions of applicants through an online lottery system.

Pilgrims at the holy site this year are not required to be masked or socially distanced, as during the past two years. However, Muslims are still prohibited from kissing or touching the cube-shaped Kaaba, which pilgrims circle as they complete the Hajj.

Religious pilgrimages brought in $12 billion before the pandemic, accounting for the largest percentage of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product after oil.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku