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Muslims mark Eid al-Adha holiday

September 13, 2016

Muslims around the world have celebrated the Eid al-Adha holiday or the "festival of sacrifice." In Saudi Arabia, some 2 million people are wrapping up the final days of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Russland Eid al-Adha
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Tsarnaev

The world's 1.5 billion Muslims marked the start of Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice on Monday, while in Saudi Arabia nearly 2 million pilgrims performed one of the final rites of the hajj by symbolically stoning the devil.

Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha to commemorate Ibrahim's, or Abraham's, test of faith in God. They believe Ibrahim committed to kill his only son Ismail on the command of God.

Having tested Ibrahim's faith, God sent a lamb in the boy's place.

During the holiday, which ends Thursday, Muslims slaughter sheep or goats to share with family, friends and the needy.

Palästina Eid al-Adha
A man carries a goat for slaughter ahead of Eid in Peshawar, PakistanImage: Reuters/F. Aziz

Eid al-Adha coincides with the final days of the hajj pilgrimage in and around the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Afghanistan Opferfest Mazar-i Sharif
Nearly two million pilgrims lined up to perform a symbolic stoning of SatanImage: Reuters/A. Jadallah

In one of the final rituals in Mina, outside Mecca, pilgrims pelted three large stone columns with pebbles on Monday in a symbolic stoning of the devil.

The Jamarat ritual, which will continue on Tuesday, emulates Ibraham's stoning of the devil in resisting the temptation to disobey God's command.

Saudi-Arabien Haj
Afghans pray in Mazar-i SharifImage: Getty Images/AFP/F. Usyan

One of the five pillars of Islam holds that every financially and physically capable Muslim must participate in the hajj at least once in life. Muslims also visit Mecca outside of the annual period of the hajj in what is known as performing "umrah."

During the five-day-long hajj, pilgrims go through a number of rituals tracing the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad and the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail.

Saudi-Arabien Haj
Pilgrims shave their heads after throwing pebbles at pillars symbolizing Satan in MinaImage: Reuters/A. Jadallah

It starts with pilgrims circling around the cube-shaped Kaaba, Islam's holiest site towards which Muslims around the world pray.

Pakistan Eid al-Adha
Palestinians pray on Monday morning at the Dome of the Rock in JerusalemImage: picture-alliance/ZUMA Press/M. Awad

cw/gsw (AFP, AP, Reuters)