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Final days of hajj and Eid festival impacted by coronavirus

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Dubai, July 31 | Small groups of pilgrims performed one of the final rites of the Islamic hajj on Friday as Muslims worldwide marked the start of the Eid-al-Adha holiday amid a global pandemic that has impacted nearly every aspect of this year’s pilgrimage and celebrations.

The pandemic has pushed millions of people around the world closer to the brink of poverty, making it harder for many to fulfill the religious tradition of purchasing livestock.

The Saudi Health Ministry said there have been no cases of the COVID-19 illness among this year’s pilgrims. The government took numerous precautions, including testing pilgrims for the virus, monitoring their movement with electronic wristbands, and requiring them to quarantine before and after the hajj.

Pilgrims were selected after applying through an online portal, and all had to be between the ages of 20 and 50 years-old.

Just after dawn on Friday, small groups of pilgrims masked and physically distancing made their way toward the massive multi-story Jamarat Complex in the Saudi valley area of Mina. There, the pilgrims cast pebbles at three large columns.

It is here where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, out of submitting to God’s will.

Muslims commemorate the prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith by slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

Sheikh Abdullah al-Manea, a member of the Supreme Council of Senior Scholars of Saudi Arabia, used the hajj sermon on Friday to praise the kingdom’s leadership for their wise decision to limit the number of pilgrims and protect human life.

Muslim leaders in Albania and Kosovo called on people to be careful” in their festivities to avoid transmission of the virus, including limiting family visits.

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