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Annual Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca Reaches Its Zenith

April 08, 1998| From Times Wire Services

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday slaughtered sheep, cows and camels and symbolically stoned Satan in the final rituals of this year's hajj, a pilgrimage Muslims are required to make at least once in a lifetime, if they can afford it.

The observances marked the start of Eid al-Adha--the Feast of Sacrifice--which is celebrated throughout the Muslim world. The animal sacrifices symbolize God's saving of Abraham's son Ismail after the patriarch offered to sacrifice him.

Saudi Arabia said more than 1.7 million pilgrims from 100 countries packed roads leading to the holy city of Mecca.

They came from hajj rituals at Mt. Arafat, about six miles away.

Pilgrims and officials said the observances took place without incident.

Parents carried infants in their arms, and the elderly were conveyed on stretchers inside Mecca's Grand Mosque.

There, the Kaaba, a cubical stone structure rising 43 feet into the air, was draped in a $4.5-million black silk cover embroidered in gold.

Pilgrims circled the Kaaba seven times, a ritual that marks the hajj's zenith.

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