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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 19:05 GMT
Hajj ends peacefully
Stoning scene
Muslims perform the ritual stoning of the devil
Nearly two million Muslims have been performing the symbolic stoning of the devil at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca - the Hajj.

Hajj disasters
2001: 35 people die in stampede during stoning
1998: At least 118 trampled to death
1997: 343 pilgrims die and 1,500 injured in fire
1994: 270 killed in a stampede as worshippers surged forwards during stoning.
1990: 1,426 pilgrims killed in overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites
1987: 400 die in Iranian-Saudi confrontation
The pilgrimage has been trouble-free, with tight security and tens of thousands of policemen deployed in Mecca.

Saudi authorities co-ordinated the mobilisation of forces on the ground with hundreds of close-circuit television cameras mounted around Mecca to help prevent any disasters.

In previous years, security and safety were major concerns with stampedes and other incidents occurring as people moved between pilgrimage points.

This year's Hajj was also overshadowed by the fallout from last September's attacks on the United States and the war in Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims join the next leg of the Hajj
The Saudi authorities have put extra security in place

For all the efforts of Muslim leaders to distance themselves from 11 September, many in the West still associate the violence - however nebulously - with Islam, as the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Mark Duff reports.

A message issued by the Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, to the pilgrims accused Washington of using 11 September as a "pretext for coercive policies".

The Saudi authorities insisted they would not tolerate any attempt to exploit the Hajj for political purposes.

Once in a lifetime

The pilgrimage, which takes Muslims in the footsteps of Muhammad, Islam's 7th-Century prophet, to the plain of Mina and the slopes of Mount Arafat, is the biggest annual mass movement of people on the planet.

Hajj itinerary

  • Start in Mecca
  • Travel to Mina and stay overnight
  • Travel to the valley of Arafat
  • Travel to Muzdalfa and stay overnight
  • Go to Mina and Mecca
  • Return to Mina (stoning), stay several days
  • End in Mecca or go to Medina (optional)

    BBC guide to Mecca pilgrimage

  • After completing the stoning ritual, the pilgrims circle the Kaba, a cubic stone structure in Mecca's Grand Mosque, seven times, say farewell prayers and ask God to accept their pilgrimage, which every able Muslim must make once in a lifetime.

    Ritual requires that the pilgrims leave Mina for Mecca before dusk, or else have to stay the night.

    The highlight of the Hajj came on Thursday, with prayers on Mount Arafat, a hill outside Mecca near to where Muhammad delivered his last sermon in 632.

    From Mecca, some pilgrims head to the city of Medina, about 435 kilometres (270 miles) north of Mecca, to visit Islam's second holiest site, the Mosque of the Prophet.

    This is not part of the Hajj itself, but many Muslims combine their pilgrimage with a visit tot the mosque of the prophet.

    See also:

    20 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Picture Gallery: Mecca pilgrimage
    18 Feb 02 | South Asia
    Afghan pilgrims get airlift for Hajj
    15 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Imams call for trouble-free Hajj
    13 Feb 02 | Middle East
    40 die in Saudi Hajj crash
    08 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Eye-scanners installed for Hajj security
    05 Mar 01 | Middle East
    Hajj perils, ancient and modern
    10 Feb 00 | Middle East
    What is the Hajj?
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