Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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SAUDI ARABIA: Stoning the Devil

December 21, 2007 |  9:10 am

HajjA video clip showing pilgrims throwing seven stones each at a large wall symbolizing Satan. There are three walls inside the Mina complex, known respectively as the small, medium and large Satans.

The ritual is meant to symbolize each pilgrim overcoming his or her own temptations and inner demons. It all goes back to the Old Testament take of the Prophet Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son on God's orders.

The details differ slightly between the Old Testament and the Koran, but in the Muslim version, after God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael, Abraham was approached three times by Satan who tried to talk him out of it. Each time he resisted temptation and threw rocks at the devil to send him away.

— Ashraf Khalil in Mina