Muslim Pilgrims Pray in Makkah as Hajj Winds Down
Millions of Hajj pilgrims began heading back to Makkah for final prayers on Tuesday as the world's largest annual gathering of Muslims wound down without incident despite the logistical challenges and escalating regional tensions.
Senior officials said there had been no major incidents and the logistical, security and health plans had been successful, even with some heavy rainfall.
Pilgrims participated in a symbolic stoning of the devil, part of the Hajj rituals, in Jamarat before returning to Makkah, where the Grand Mosque filled with worshippers preparing to depart.
Saudi pilgrim Jasem Ali Haqawi said he was grateful to the authorities for a well-run week of rituals.
"Nobody comes to the Hajj without things inside him that he wants to ask from God," he said while preparing to conduct final prayers in Makkah.
"The sick, the indebted ... such things only God can grant and so you ask God for whatever you want,” he added, according to Reuters.
Nearly 2.5 million pilgrims, most of them from abroad, came for the five-day ritual this year. Attendance is a religious duty, once in a lifetime, for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
More than 120,000 members of the security forces and more than 30,000 health workers were on hand this week to maintain safety and provide first aid.