Muzdalifa from Futuh al-haramayn by Muhyi al-Din-Lari (16th century, Iran)

Muzdalifa from Futuh al-Haramayn by Muhyi al-Din-Lari (16th century, Iran)

British Library, Or 1153, fol. 27b

About Muzdalifa, Muhyi al-Din Lari writes:

This is Muzdalifa, the same territory
you passed through on the ninth day [of the month].
But [this time] its noble splendour catches the eye,
and it shows itself now in a different light
Caravans for which ‘Arafat had no space
will stay for the night at this stopping place.
Tonight it is the oyster-shell for its pearl;
tonight it is the distinction for its star.
Egyptians and Syrians, on all sides,
[camp] in lines around it in deepest respect.
The expanse of this plain is filled, all night,
with colourful tents as far as you can see.
Like roses and tulips, the candles and lamps
make up meadows and gardens, one after another.
Translated by Muhammad Isa Waley (The Art of Hajj, 2012)

Pilgrims in Muzdalifa from Anis al-hujjaj, The Pilgrim’s Companion (about 1677-80, India)

Pilgrims in Muzdalifa from Anis al-hujjaj

Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, MSS 1025 fol. 10a (© Nour Foundation. Courtesy of the Khalili Family Trust)

According to tradition, Muzdalifa, situated between Mina and Mount ‘Arafat, is where pardon is granted and where Muslims gather pebbles to throw at the Jamarat (pillars) in Mina. Here pilgrims collect 49 pebbles if they are to stay in Mina for three days, and 70 pebbles if they are staying for four. The Prophet stated that stones should be neither too big nor too small, approximately the size of a chickpea.

In Anis al-hujjaj Safi ibn Wali gives a detailed description of the rituals of Hajj and their importance. This illustration shows pilgrims camping at Muzdalifa, many with hands outstretched in prayer. A group to the right are picking up the pebbles they will use to stone the Jamarat (pillars).

Collecting Pebbles for Stoning

Collecting Pebbles for Stoning

Peter Sanders mid-1990s

After leaving the plain of Arafat on the second day of Hajj, pilgrims camp overnight on the rocky plain of Muzdalifa. Here pilgrims gather pebbles that they will later throw at three pillars, known as the Jamarat, situated in Mina. Forty nine pebbles in total are collected to undertake this next ritual which will take place on three separate occasions.

The stoning of the pillars re-enacts the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who was confronted by the devil and was ordered by the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) to reject him by throwing stones. This ritual symbolises the destruction of the inner devil.

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council