People greeted each other and took part in mass prayers across the Sultanate as they joined the world in celebrating Eid al Adha on Friday. His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, ministers and dignitaries performed the Eid al Adha prayer at the Al Khor Mosque in Muscat. Mosques and Eid Garhs were abuzz with worshippers as early as 6 am and joined in the proclamation Allahu Akbar which reiterated the belief of Muslims that Almighty Allah is the greatest.
This was followed by special mass prayers followed by supplications and a sermon touching upon modern human lives vis-a-vis the noble sacrifice of prophet Ibrahim some fourteen centuries ago.
“Global peace, unity and harmony are pillars of Islam and no service is complete unless one can touch upon the life of another human being irrespective of the class, religion or colour or any other differentiating feature’, the scholar who lead the mass congregation in Ghala reminded the believers.
Later, cattle were slaughtered as part of the rituals at various abattoirs set up by the civic authorities across the country and people distributed it among the poor, neighbours and friends.
In stifling heat, an estimated two million Muslims, including 16,000 pilgrims from Oman, from across the globe were gathered in Mina for the final rite of the Haj, the “Stoning of the Devil” that has proved lethal in past years.
The 2015 stampede marked the deadliest disaster to ever strike the Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hundreds of lives have been lost in several stampedes during the stoning ritual over the past 20 years. Saudi Arabia says it has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe this year.
The huge crowds, many holding umbrellas to shield them from the sun, took part in the stoning rite under strict surveillance, with police tape guiding the flow of pilgrims, cameras everywhere and helicopters hovering overhead. “It’s different every year,” said Najat Malik, 45, a Sudanese Red Crescent employee who travelled from Khartoum for the Haj.
By Friday afternoon, temperatures had reached 41 degrees Celsius, with many suffering from dehydration or heat exhaustion.
“Two pilgrims fainted right in front of me this morning,” said Almas Khattak, a Pakistani volunteer in Mina. The stoning ritual, which lasts until Sunday, marks the first day of the Eid al Adha feast, or the feast of sacrifice. — With agency inputs