MAKKAH - More than three million white-clad pilgrims continued Saturday, October 27, the symbolic stone of devil in the final leg of the spiritual journey of hajj.
I managed to throw pebbles at Jamrat al-Aqaba early in the morning when the place wasn't so crowded, Malaysian pilgrim Abdullah Noor, 47, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest), massive crowds of pilgrims advanced in waves around Jamrat al-Aqaba, the largest of three adjacent pillars, pleting Jamrat Al-Aqabah.
Pilgrims hurl seven pebbles from behind a fence or from an overhead bridge every day for three days at each of the three 18-meter (58-foot) high concrete pillars symbolizing the devil.
My feelings are a mixture of happiness and sadness, said Noor.
I'm happy because I managed to reach this holy land -- a dream I have had for years, he said.
But I'm sad because I couldn't bring my family with me.
Satan appeared on the same site to Prophet Abraham, son Isma`il and wife Hagar, who each threw seven stones at the devil.
After the stoning ceremony, the pilgrims go to Makkah for Tawaf Al-Wadaa.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to e perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Muslims who perform hajj properly return to their homes having all their sins washed way as promised by Prophet Muhammad.
Many pilgrims are feeling spiritual satisfaction after fulfilling the life-time journey.
This is the time to atone for the sins committed over the years, Daud Baev, a 65-year-old Kazakh, told AFP.
Malik Evangelatos, a Muslim pilgrim from Ukiah, California., is feeling wonderful, satisfying and humble after hajj.
It has probably been the highlight of my life outside of getting married and having a baby, he said.
He said the simple pilgrim's garment that he had worn the past few days helped him see the bigger picture in life and go back changed, happy and appreciative.
You feel an emotional release, said Evangelatos, who reverted to Islam six years ago.
It is something that is not recreated anywhere else in the world.
Pilgrims endure the hardships they face in hajj for the sake of forgiveness from Allah.
You feel obedient to Allah, Ahmed Fahmy, the general manager of the Cairo-based Islamic Huda TV, who performed his 11th hajj, said.I feel like it's something that is entirely for the pleasure of Allah.