Hajj pilgrims move to Muzdalifah after ascending Mount Arafat

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Hajj pilgrims participating in the limited capacity pilgrimage this year due to COVID-19 have begun moving to Muzdalifah after they gathered at Mount Arafat in Mecca on Thursday where they stood in prayer till sunset in one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar.

The rocky areas of Arafat, Mina, and Muzdalifah a few kilometers east of Mecca are the main sites of Hajj, which culminates with Friday’s Eid al-Adha holiday, and are the location of rituals laid out by the Prophet Mohammed.

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At Muzdalifah, pilgrims will gather pebbles for a symbolic stoning of the devil ritual starting Friday, which is also the Eid al-Adha feast of sacrifice marked by the world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims. They will pray the sunset and evening prayers combined and spend the night in the open plains of the area before heading back to Mina to perform the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual the next day.

This year’s Hajj was only open to a limited number of people due to the coronavirus pandemic. Seventy percent of the pilgrims were non-Saudi Arabians residing in the Kingdom and 30 percent were Saudi Arabians.

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The nationals who performed Hajj are healthcare workers and security forces who have recovered from the virus, as a way to show appreciation for their efforts in the Kingdom’s continued fight against the novel coronavirus.

Authorities in Mecca have set several health and safety guidelines in preparation for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage being held in a limited capacity this year given the coronavirus pandemic.

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The guidelines laid out include the implementation of a medical quarantine for all incoming pilgrims ahead of their entry into Mecca’s holy sites.

All pilgrims will be following social distancing measures of keeping two meters between each other throughout their pilgrimage in Mecca. Pilgrims will also be divided into separate groups not exceeding 20 individuals per group. All groups will be accompanied by a guide throughout their pilgrimage.

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