While the term ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual might seem scary, but the actual ritual is not as gruesome as one might think. But even still this part of the Hajj is considered to be one of the most dangerous of all.
The ritual is part of the yearly Islamic Hajj pilgrimage that the people of this religion take and travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia the holy city. The ritual consists of Muslim pilgrims throwing stones at a jamarat or walls/pillars in a city called Mina that is just east of Mecca.
What Is The Process Of Stoning Of The Devil Ritual
Basically, in the Stoning of the Devil ritual, pilgrims on the 10th Day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah or the Eid al-Adha as we popularly know it, would throw 7 pebbles on one of the 3 jamraat, ideally the largest one. After this, every pilgrim who has participated will shave or cut off their hair. Subsequently, on the following 2 days, going from east to west, the pilgrims must strike all of the 3 walls each with 7 pebbles thus bringing the total count to 49 pebbles that must be thrown.
Even the stones that are thrown are not just ordinary ones that one can pick up from the street. Instead, one can either get them in Mina itself, or go the traditional route of collecting them at Muzdalifah a place that is southeast to Mina.
The Story Behind This Ritual
The reason that pilgrims follow this ritual is in remembrance of Abraham and his own hajj where he did something similar to this.
The walls represent the 3 devils that Abraham encountered on his own pilgrimage to Mecca as per the historian al-Azraqi. The largest wall is symbolic of the first and biggest devil that Abraham found that stood for his temptation to not sacrifice his son Ishmael.
The second wall stands for the second devil and is representative of the temptation presented by Abraham’s wife Hagar. The 3rd wall stands for the last devil that Abraham found that represents Ishmael’s temptation to not go through with the sacrifice. Each time Abraham was swayed away from giving into the devil by Angel Jibraeel or Gabriel who would exclaim to him ‘Pelt him’ and by throwing these stones Abraham would be proving himself strong against these temptations.
One could also say that the stoning of the jamarat is a way of expunging off one’s own temptations and low wishes and desires and by essentially throwing away these desires, one gets to become one step closer to Allah.
Why The Danger?
As per an article in Independent, over two million Muslims have been performing the final rites of the yearly Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
In 2015, there was a tragic accident where almost 2500 people were killed as per Independent after a stampede occurred at the site of the stone throwing.
Even before this, the pillars due to being unsafe for the public were replaced after the 2004 Hajj. The pillars were unsafe due to the fact that people on the other side were getting hit by the stones thrown.
The Saudi authorities thus replaced the pillars with walls that were about 85 feet or 26 meter long. The Jamaraat Bridge was also built to create an easier path to these walls.
But even still, the danger remains as any point a stampede can break out which can result in a lot of causalities, thus creating a level of danger around this ritual.
This year though, the govt. had widened the roads and even added extra security to prevent anything wrong happening.
Image Credits: Google Images