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Author: 
Hamid Al-Sulami | Arab News
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2008-12-10 03:00

MINA: Pilgrims stoned the devil on the second consecutive day at the massive four-story Jamrat complex yesterday. Chanting “God is Great,” they threw seven small pebbles at each of the three thick walls in the last ritual of the Haj. The ritual, which symbolizes the rejection of evil, will be repeated today as the Haj winds down.

At a reception for the leading personalities of the Muslim world attending the Haj this year at the Mina Palace yesterday, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah stressed the need for internal dialogue within the Muslim community as a means to defend the society from the menace of disunity, ignorance and extremism.

“Today, we need a dialogue of the Ummah within itself. It is because sedition, ignorance and fanaticism are threatening the hopes of Muslims. The terrorism that threatens the entire world is attributed to Muslims alone because of the acts of a few extremists who represent none but themselves. Though they put on the guise of Islam, the religion has nothing to do with them. This is what makes the dialogue of the Ummah with itself imperative for achieving a unified stand, elimination of the causes of their disputes, strengthening their moderate middle path, and to stamp out extremism,” King Abdullah told his guests.

The guests included Sudanese President Omar Bashir, Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas, Chechen President Ramadan Kadirov and Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Abdullah Al-Turki.

“During the last Haj season, I spoke to you about the significance of interfaith dialogue. The Kingdom organized the Makkah conference for Muslim scholars and thinkers to discuss the idea of dialogue, and was welcomed by them... It was followed by the Madrid conference in which representatives of various religions and cultures endorsed the outcome of the Makkah conference. The high level meeting of the United Nations’ General Assembly on the interfaith dialogue, in which prominent international personalities participated, upheld the concept of dialogue,” King Abdullah said.

“The Kingdom with this program aims to uphold the glory of Islam and service to humanity,” the king added. King Abdullah left Mina yesterday evening and later arrived in Jeddah.

At the Jamrat complex, thousands of security forces were deployed in the area to control the crowd. The pilgrims began arriving in small groups before noon prayers. They were joined by packed crowds of the faithful following the prayers at Masjid Al-Khaif, which was the center of activity in Mina. It is a stone’s throw from the Jamrat complex. The faithful were relieved at having performed the religious duty in relative comfort. Though the stoning of the devil is largely symbolic, quite a few pilgrims were seen venting their fury while performing the ritual yesterday. “I stoned the devil with all my might today. On Monday, I was too weak having spent the previous day in standing at Arafat and sleeping out in the open in Muzdalifah ... I couldn’t really mete out justice to this Satan ... He needs to be stoned vigorously,” said Abdul Hamid Gergawi from Dubai.

Nesreen Abbas from Iran said the whole exercise required mental preparation. “Pilgrims should be encouraged to familiarize themselves with all aspects of Haj, memorizing and learning the meaning of the prayers involved, which are recited in Arabic,” he said. “The more you know about Haj and its obligations and prohibitions,” he felt, “the more comfortable and at peace you will feel during the whole process.”

Some pilgrims said they saw in the devil those who are persecuting Muslims all over the world. “This is nothing but an act of catharsis,” said Saqib Jallandhari of Pakistan.

“To me these pillars represent those world leaders who are either killing or are responsible for the genocide of my brethren in Kabul, Jerusalem and Baghdad,” he said.

“Though symbolic, this act should be perpetuated by the world against those ‘devils’ who are ruining the very fabric of coexistence and world peace. They should be stoned in the same way the devil is pelted with pebbles,” said Ahmed Abu Hidada from Egypt.

“The stoning of the devil symbolizes the triumph of good over evil,” Muhammad Nadeem of India said. “There is a fight going on between the good and the bad all over the world. For the moment, it looks as if the bad people with preconceived notions about Islam have an edge. But finally, peace will prevail and we will come out victorious. All the efforts of the ‘devil’ to put us down will go in vain, in the same way as the devil had failed to mislead Prophet Ibrahim,” said Nadeem.

The pilgrims will stream out of Mina today after performing what for many will be an once-in-a-lifetime journey of faith.

The Indian Haj mission comprising Consul General Sayeed Ahmed Baba, Consul (Haj) B.S. Mubarak and other officials of the mission camping at Mina said yesterday that the movement of pilgrims to Mina and then to Arafat has been smooth. Sixty-one Indian pilgrims admitted in various hospitals in Makkah were taken to Arafat by Moassasa-sponsored ambulances. Fourteen Indian pilgrims admitted in the 30-bed hospital run by the mission were taken to Arafat in its ambulances. More than 40 staff members of the mission are presently monitoring the movement of Indian pilgrims to perform the Jamrat ritual in cooperation with local authorities.

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