Hajj Concludes in Mecca Amid Scorching Temperatures

Muslim pilgrims have completed the Hajj pilgrimage in the scorching summer heat on Tuesday, culminating with the third day of the symbolic stoning of the devil and the final circumambulation around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site.

The three-day stoning ritual in Mina, a desert site outside Mecca, is one of the final rites of the Hajj. It symbolizes the casting away of evil and sin. It began a day after pilgrims gathered on Saturday at a sacred hill, known as Mount Arafat.

The final days of the annual Hajj coincide with Muslims worldwide celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday. During this holiday, Muslims with the means commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith, when God ordered him to sacrifice his only son, by slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

The Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Its rituals primarily commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail, Ismail’s mother Hajar, and Prophet Muhammad, according to the Quran, Islam’s holy book. In the Islamic version, God stayed his hand and Ismail was spared.

“I am reassured. I feel comfortable,” Mejahed al-Mehrabi, a Yemeni pilgrim, told The Associated Press after completing the third day of the stoning ritual. “Anyone who can visit the Grand Mosque (in Mecca) should do so.”

Nigerian pilgrim Amir Omar was overjoyed after finishing his symbolic stoning. “I am feeling very great that I perform one pillar of my religion,” he said. “I am feeling very grateful.”

The burning sun and suffocating hot weather persisted on Tuesday, with temperatures expected to reach 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit in Mecca and the sacred sites in and around the city, according to the Saudi National Center for Metrology.

Many pilgrims, particularly elderly ones, were seen collapsing and in need of medical assistance due to the heat. Dozens were also reported dead from sunstroke. This included at least 41 Jordanian pilgrims who will be buried in Saudi Arabia, according to Jordan’s Foreign Ministry.

Many other pilgrims were unaccounted for while performing the rituals. Many Egyptians took to social media to search for their relatives in Mount Arafat and Mina. Some were found in hospitals around Mecca after collapsing from the heatwave.

After the third symbolic stoning on Tuesday, pilgrims headed to Mecca to perform “tawaf,” circling the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque counterclockwise seven times. This circumambulation, known as the Farewell Tawaf, marks the end of Hajj as pilgrims prepare to leave the holy city.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal.

Most of the pilgrims then leave Mecca for the city of Medina, about 210 miles away, to pray in the tomb, the Sacred Chamber.

The Sacred Chamber tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. Many wealthy Muslims make the pilgrimage more than once.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed Hajj in 2024, including more than 1.6 million pilgrims from 22 countries, and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents, according to Saudi Hajj authorities.

The 2014 pilgrimage occurred against the backdrop of the devastating Israel-Hamas war, which has pushed the region to the brink of a regional conflict.

“I prayed first for Gaza then Yemen,” said al-Mehrabi, the Yemeni pilgrim, referring to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian enclave and the decade-old conflict in his home country.