Pilgrims have returned today (Thursday) to the holy city of Makkah to perform the last ritual of a very special and different hajj.
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.
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Pilgrims should perform farewell Tawaf 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.
“I cannot believe it’s almost over. It feels like it just started. I’m leaving with a heavy heart that’s both sad to leave yet overjoyed as my dream has come true,” Hadeel, an Egyptian pilgrim, told The National.
The worshippers will get into the Grand Mosque via designated doors and will be required to follow specific marked paths to keep distance between each other.
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This year’s gathering is much smaller than usual because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with only 60,000 fully vaccinated citizens and residents of the kingdom allowed to take part.
“For the second year in a row, the Kingdom prioritizes pilgrims’ health and safety above everything else, without taking any economic factors into consideration. Pilgrims’ health and their safe return is the most important goal of organizing Hajj with limited numbers,” Saudi Arabia’s Centre for International Communication said.
The farewell circumambulation came after the pilgrims completed on Sunday the three-day ritual of stoning the Devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba, hurling pebbles at all three wide walls representing Satan.