MAKKAH – More than 2.3 million Muslim pilgrims will begin leaving the holy city of Makkah, concluding peacefully the last of the solemn rituals of the soul-searching journey of hajj.
“I feel I am born once again,” Egyptian pilgrim Sabah Saeed, 49, told Reuters.
“This is a great blessing from God and it makes you so happy.”
In the last ritual of the annual pilgrimage, the white-clad pilgrims performed the final Tawaf (circumambulation) as they walked seven times around the Ka`bah in the Grand Mosque complex in Makkah.
The Ka`bah, with a black stone set in the eastern corner, is not an object of worship, though Muslims pray towards it, but a sanctuary and a spiritual center.
The farewell Tawaf should be done at the last hour before leaving Makkah. If the pilgrim spends another night in Makkah after the tawaf, he or she must repeat the ritual.
The farewell circumambulation came after the pilgrims, some in groups others alone, completed on Thursday the three-day ritual of stoning the Devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba, hurling pebbles at all three wide walls representing Satan.
Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to 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.