Stoning of the Devil

A stoning of the Devil from 1942

The Stoning of the Devil (Arabic: رمي الجمراتramī al-jamarāt, lit. "stoning of the jamarāt [place of pebbles]")[1][2][3] is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. During the ritual, Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at three walls (formerly pillars), called jamarāt, in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj. It is a symbolic reenactment of Abraham's hajj, where he stoned three pillars representing the temptation to disobey God and preserve Ishmael.

On Eid al-Adha (the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah), pilgrims must strike only one of the three jamraat; specifically, the larger one; with seven pebbles. After the stoning is completed on the day of Eid, every pilgrim must cut or shave their hair.[4] On each of the following two days, they must hit each of the three walls with seven pebbles, going in order from east to west. Thus at least 49 pebbles are needed for the ritual, more if some throws miss. Some pilgrims stay at Mina for an additional day, in which case they must again stone each wall seven times. The pebbles used in the stoning are traditionally gathered at Muzdalifah, a plain southeast of Mina, on the night before the first throwing, but can also be collected at Mina.

Replacement of the pillars

Until 2004, the three jamarāt (singular: jamrah) were tall pillars. After the 2004 Hajj, Saudi authorities replaced the pillars with 26-metre-long (85 ft) walls for safety; many people were accidentally throwing pebbles at people on the other side. To allow easier access to the jamarāt, a single-tiered pedestrian bridge called the Jamaraat Bridge was built around them, allowing pilgrims to throw stones from either ground level or from the bridge.

The jamarāt are named (starting from the east):

  • the first jamrah (al-jamrah al-'ūlā), or the smallest jamrah (الجمرة الصغرى al-jamrah aṣ-ṣughrā),
  • the middle jamrah (الجمرة الوسطى al-jamrah al-wusṭā),
  • the largest jamrah (الجمرة الكبرى al-jamrah al-kubrā), or Jamrah of Aqaba (جمرة العقبة jamrat al-ʿaqaba).

Before 2004, the distance between the small and middle jamarāt was 150 m (490 ft); between the middle and large jamarāt it was 225 m (738 ft).[5]