St Francis Online about Mecca, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – more than two million Muslims gathered Monday for a vigil on Mount Arafat, highlight of the Hajj, the great annual pilgrimage to Mecca, where the Prophet Muhammad would have issued his last preach fourteen centuries ago.
Dressed in a traditional white, the faithful have started Sunday five days, pillar of Islam pilgrimage and considered a religious obligation to which all Muslim who has the means must undergo at least once in his life.
After visiting on foot or by bus to Mount Arafat, about 15 kilometres to the East of Mecca, pilgrims had to go to the sunset for Muzdalifa to perform Tuesday the ritual of the stoning of Satan, which marks the first day of Eid al Adha, or Aid el Kebir, the feast of the sacrifice.
According to Saudi Arabia, guardian of the Holy places of the Mecca and Medina, more than 2.37 million Muslims, including many from outside the Kingdom, take part in the pilgrimage this year.
In the past, the Hajj was bereaved by deadly riots, fires, or jostling, including that of 2015 which had officially made nearly 800 dead, but perhaps actually more than double.
All precautions have been taken this year, with the deployment of tens of thousands of members of the forces of order as well as the nursing staff, said Saudi representatives.