Millions of Muslims on pilgrimage to Mecca
the hague - Hajj, the largest pilgrimage in the world, is about to begin. From Sunday evening to Friday evening, the Saudi city of Mecca will visit around three million Muslims from all parts of the world, including several thousand pilgrims from the Netherlands.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is mandatory for every Muslim who can pay the trip. You must have made the pilgrimage once in your life. If you do not have money or do you have health problems, then you can go away.
Central is the Kaaba, the square building in the middle of the square of the Grand Mosque that according to Islamic tradition would have been built by Adam. In the Kaaba, the House of God, lies the Black Stone, which would come from Paradise.
The pilgrims walk around Kaäba seven times in a counterclockwise direction. There are more rituals. This is how the pilgrims travel to the plain of Mina where they spend the day in prayer and meditation. The believers also go to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon. At the end of the week, pilgrims return to Mina, where they throw seven stones to a stone pillar that symbolizes the devil.
Participating in the pilgrimage to Mecca is not without danger. Two years ago panic broke out and according to official figures 769 pilgrims lost their lives. The unofficial figures were based on two thousand deaths. In 2006, panic in the crowd led to the death of more than 350 people.
According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Dutch Muslims travel for the hajj. The embassy in Riyadh and the ministry in The Hague provide consular assistance if needed. 'This happened a few times in the past, for example in case of deaths', the ministry says.
The pilgrimage can walk in the papers. A tour of the websites of the various travel providers shows prices between 4400 and more than 6000 euro for two to three weeks in a five-star hotel.
The website Health Services of KLM gives pilgrims tips on health and measures to keep them up to date. For example, Saudi Arabia has required vaccination against meningitis (meningitis). The risk of meningococcal infection is greater during the pilgrimage, because many people in large groups are close together.
Foreign Affairs pays special attention to the hajj in the travel advice for Saudi Arabia.
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