More than two million of the faithful have begun on Sunday, in a climate of fervor and under a sun of lead, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in saudi Arabia in mutation, but where islam retains a central place. This religious gathering annual, one of the largest in the world, represents a logistical challenge for the saudi authorities, who, however, declared themselves ready to ensure its smooth running until Friday.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of islam. Every muslim is supposed to accomplish at least once in his life if he can afford it. “It is the dream of every muslim to come here”, it is “the ultimate trip”, said to AFP Suleiman Ben Mohri, merchant 53-year-old native of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. “We are moved”.
The movements of the pilgrims are carried out in a climate of fervor that makes you forget the sweltering heat, as the temperature greatly exceeds the 40 degrees Celsius. “Oh Allah, here I am in front of you,” repeated groups of the faithful, called, and present themselves in humility before God which they claim to clemency. The pilgrims come to Mecca, in the west of the kingdom, to the four corners of the planet, but, among the biggest contingents, include nationals from Egypt, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sudan, according to the authorities. Their number has exceeded two million, said the ministry of the Interior, stating that the vast majority came from abroad.
The faithful must go Sunday in the valley near Mina, through the said place of Mozdalifa where they will spend the night before the parking lot on Mount Arafat, highlight of the hajj. It is on this mount that the prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon and this is where the pilgrims spend a day of prayers and invocations seeking the mercy of Allah. The pilgrimage ends with Eid al-Adha, a festival of three days followed by the ritual of the “stoning of Satan”.
Over the years, the hajj has taken on a dimension more and more high-tech with a proliferation of mobile applications to help the faithful understand the instructions, to find their way or get emergency medical care at the Red Crescent of saudi arabia. In addition, a team of translators is hard at work to help the faithful muslims non-Arabic speakers, who come from the four corners of the world and speak a dozen languages. The authorities have also improve security after a series of tragedies in recent years. In 2015, the pilgrimage has been bereaved by a giant stampede that had made some 2 300 people dead, including hundreds of Iranians.
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