Around three million white-clad pilgrims began the spiritual journey of hajj on Monday, June 26, moving to Mina on the first leg of their journey of a lifetime.
Many of the worshippers set out on foot to Mina, eight kilometers (five miles) from Makkah’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site.
The annual pilgrimage began on Sunday in Makkah with the tawaf, the circling of the Ka`bah, in an event that is expected to break attendance records.
“I am living the most beautiful days of my life,” said Abdel-Azim, a 65-year-old Egyptian as he performed the ritual, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
“The dream has come true,” said the retiree, who saved up for 20 years to pay the $6,000 fee to take part.
This year’s will be the biggest since 2019, when about 2.5 million people took part. Only 10,000 were allowed in 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, rising to nearly 59,000 in 2021. Last year’s cap of one million has been removed.
“I cannot describe my feelings,” said 25-year-old Indonesian student Yusuf Burhan. “This is a great blessing. I never imagined that I would perform the hajj this year.”
The Day of Tarwiyah
The Day of Tarwiyah (literally known as fetching water) marks the beginning of Hajj. There are no major rituals, so the pilgrims will spend their time praying and reflecting until sunrise on Tuesday.
Once in their fireproof tents, masses of faithful, clad in the white ihram garb, busy themselves reciting the Noble Qur’an and praying.
Many try to catch some sleep — after a tiring journey from Makkah – as they ready for the climax of their ultimate spiritual experience.
On Tuesday morning, pilgrims will ascend the Mount `Arafat where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered his last sermon more than 14 centuries ago.
The pilgrims then will return to Mina after spending the night in Muzdalifah.
They will take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamrat Al-Aqaba and sacrifice animals to mark the four-day `Eid Al-Adha, which starts Wednesday.