Thursday, January 12, 2006

Deadly Stampede @ Hajj!

This morning I read that a stampede broke out among Muslim pilgrims at the annual Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca killing dozens.

It was the last day of a symbolic stoning ritual at the Hajj, and the Interior Ministry said an unknown number of people were killed. The Al-Arabiya network reported that dozens of pilgrims died.

It seems that the pilgrims were returning via Mina after performing a farewell ceremony that involves walking around the
Kaaba - a cube-like building in the centre of Mecca's Great Mosque - seven times. Essentially, this ceremony is performed after the Hajj has finished.

The stampede broke out as tens of thousands of pilgrims filed past al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin. As we have come to see, the stoning is the riskiest ritual of the Hajj, as worshippers jostle to try to target the stones, often causing weaker pilgrims to fall under foot.

The ritual has seen deadly stampedes in the past, including one in 1990 that killed 1,426 people and another in February 2004 that killed 244. Moreover, the latest deadly stampede come days after more than 70 people died when a hostel for pilgrims collapsed in the Saudi city of Mecca.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able-bodied adult Muslim is obliged to perform it at least once in their lives.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV,
John 14.6).

No comments: