Around two million Muslims offered Eid-ul-Azha prayers at Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and Masjid an-Nabawi, also called the Prophet’s Mosque, in Saudi Arabia early Friday morning.
The pilgrims, after completing their prayers, will move to Mina next, where they will perform the ritual of ‘stoning of the devil’ before sacrificing animals.
Their palms facing the sky, the pilgrims descended on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat on Thursday for the highlight of the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the world´s largest annual gatherings.
With temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) under the desert sun, the faithful climbed the hill east of Makkah where the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) gave his last sermon some 14 centuries ago.
Helicopters flew around the area as the pilgrims converged from dawn on the Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma, or Mount of Mercy.
The pilgrims performed Waqoof-e-Arafat and listened to the sermon delivered from Masjid-e-Nimra by Imam Dr Shaykh Sa’d bin Nasir al-Shithri.
Dr Shaykh Sa’d bin Nasir al-Shithri said that it is wrong to deviate from the path after accepting faith. “If you follow the law then God will forgive”.
God has promised that believers that they will be rewarded for the good deeds in this world as well as Hereafter. In Islam even interest is considered haraam [illegal], he pointed out.
God will punish those who are cruel to others, he said. “Pious people will enter Paradise.”
He also remarked that oneness of God is central to the teachings of all the prophets. “Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent to give guidance to ummah,” he added.
This year´s Hajj has seen the return of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia´s arch-rival Iran following a diplomatic row and a deadly stampede in 2015.
But thousands who would normally make the journey from neighbouring Qatar are absent apart from a few dozen because of the diplomatic crisis shaking the Gulf.
Eid across the world
Thousands gathered at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to offer Eid-ul-Azha prayers on Friday morning.
Eid prayers will also be offered across United States and Europe today.
Also earlier today, millions offered Eid prayers in Indonesia, Philippines and other places around the world where the first day of Eid-ul-Azha is being observed.