LONDON: Muslims around the world marked the Eid Al-Adha holiday on Tuesday, gathering at mosques or in vast open sites to celebrate one of the two most important festivals of the Islamic calendar.
Commemorating the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son on God’s command, Muslims mark the holiday by slaughtering animals such as sheep and goats. The meat is shared among family and friends and also donated to the poor.
Palestinians visited the compound known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City, following morning prayers marking the first day of the Eid Al-Adha celebration.
In Syria, President Bashar Assad attended prayers at a mosque in Damascus.
The festival was also celebrated across Africa and Asia. In the Kenyan capital Nairobi thousands gathered in a field for mass prayers, the faithful also met in the Somali capital Mogadishu, and prayed at Almaty’s Central Mosque in Kazakhstan.
More than 226,000 of Muslims gathered at mosques in the Russian capital to celebrate Eid Al-Adha. The largest in Europe, Moscow Cathedral Mosque has become the epicenter for celebrations.
The festival comes as the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia draws to a close.
Meanwhile, almost 2.4 million Muslims took part in the symbolic stoning of the devil on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, the last major ritual of the Hajj pilgrimage that heralds the start of the Eid Al-Adha feast.
Muslims on the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, made their way across the Mina valley of the western Saudi Arabian Makkah province, many carrying pebbles in plastic bottles.
Pilgrims clad in white threw seven stones each at a pillar symbolising satan, shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest“) under the watchful eyes of security forces.
Large fans sprayed water over the crowd as temperatures climbed to 44 degrees Celsius.
“Thank God it hasn’t been too crowded this year. There hasn’t been a big rush,” said Mohammed Osman, 27, who regularly attends Hajj.
Mina was the site of a 2015 stampede which saw more than 2,300 pilgrims crushed or suffocated to death. Authorities have since reinforced safety and security measures.
“We are under God’s protection,” said May Khalifa, a 37-year-old Egyptian Muslim living in Riyadh.
“Despite the exhaustion, I’m enjoying my first Hajj,” she said, lifting her small bag of stones.