As Muslims who are in Mecca for this year’s holy pilgrimage performs the ritual of stoning the Devil today, let us examine why they do it.
The Stoning of the Devil known in Arabic as ramy al-jamarāt, or “throwing of the jamarāt [place of pebbles]” is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
During the ritual, Muslim pilgrims cast pebbles at three pillars which are now walls in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of numerous ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj by every pilgrim.
Stoning the devil, is a symbolic reenactment of Ibrahim’s hajj. Ibrahim, known as Abraham by the Christians, faced temptations when God asked him to sacrifice his son to him. It is believed that he stoned three pillars representing the temptation to disobey God.
This incident is explained by a very famous Muslim historian Al-Azraqi as:
“When he [Ibrahim] left Mina and was brought down to al-Aqaba, the Devil appeared to him at Stone-Heap of the Defile. Gabriel (Jibril) said to him: “Pelt him!” so Ibrahim threw seven stones at him so that he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the Middle Stone-Heap. Gabriel said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones so that he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the Little Stone-Heap. Gabriel said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones like the little stones for throwing with a sling. So the Devil withdrew from him.”
This ritual is usually performed on Eid al-Adha. Eid Adha is the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah. During the act, pilgrims must strike any one of the three jamraat (the Big Jamaraat or Al-Jamrah Al-Aqaba) with seven pebbles.
After the stoning is completed on the day of Eid, every pilgrim must cut or shave their hair. On each of the following two days, they must hit all three walls with seven pebbles each, 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. For this year’s Hajj, due to Coronavirus, the pebbles were sterilised
spiritual significance of throwing stones at the Devil
All three jamarāt(walls) represent the Devil.
- The first one which is the largest represents Satan’s temptation of Abraham against sacrificing his son Ismāʿīl (Ishmael).
This is followed by the second one which represents the temptation of Abraham’s wife Hājar (Hagar) to induce her to stop him.
The third and the last one represents Ishmael tempting him to avoid being sacrificed. Each time, he was rebuked, and the throwing of the stones symbolizes those rebukes.
Furthermore, the stoning of the jamarāt represents the repudiation of man’s selfish desires. This literally means the act of casting aside one’s low desires and wishes and to submit to the will of Allah.