MECCA, June 25 (AP) — Pilgrims poured into Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Saturday to perform final rites before heading to Mina to prepare for the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam and the world’s largest religious pilgrimage. One of the largest religious gatherings in the world.
Their fervent recitation echoes in the air as they walk through the white marble courtyards of Islam’s holy sites in a performance of tawaf, or walk around the Kaaba (House of Heaven), a cubic structure covered in black and gold embroidered cloth Voice.
Due to the large number of participants, those on the ground floor closest to the Kaaba are shuffling. People upstairs are able to walk more briskly and even run. Pilgrims raised their hands in supplication, took selfies or videos and called relatives as they performed Tawaf rituals.
They then walk or run between the two mountains, reenacting the story of Hagar’s quest for water for her son Ismail, a story that occurs in various forms in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions.
Pilgrims must enter a state of spiritual purity known as “Ihram” before they can perform the Hajj.
Men wear seamless white robes, a rule meant to promote solidarity between rich and poor. Women cover their bodies and hair.
Between ceremonies and the five daily prayers, pilgrims seek shade, eat snacks and flock to the many shops and air-conditioned malls surrounding the Grand Mosque to relax before the tough days ahead.
Saudi Arabia has resumed full capacity for this year’s Hajj, which was slashed by the pandemic in the previous three years and is expected to be attended by more than 2 million Muslims.
“I think the audience this year is too much,” said Mahboub Morshed, a 42-year-old software engineer from Bangladesh, referring to previous years’ lower attendance. “But the government and management (the Hajj and Umrah ministry) are trying to manage this very smoothly.” (AP)
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