Before sunrise, hajj pilgrims throw 7 stones at pilars

Tens of thousands of &to=' target=_blank>Muslim pilgrims hurled pebbles at stone pillars, symbolically stoning the devil Tuesday in a final rite of the hajj, and faithful across the Islamic world butchered sheep and cattle to kick off one of their biggest holidays _ the feast of sacrifice.

The feast, called the Eid al-Adha in Arabic, commemorates Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son in God's test of the patriarch's faith. At the last moment, God substituted a sheep for the son. The story is shared by all the great monotheistic religions _ Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

From the Philippines to Bosnia and across the Middle East, Muslims slaughtered livestock, holding festive family dinners and distributing meat to the poor.

At Islam's holiest sites, in Saudi Arabia, the 2.5 million Muslims participating in this year's annual hajj pilgrimage held the first of three days of the stoning ritual to cleanse sins, throwing pebbles at "al-Jamarat" _ three stone pillars symbolizing the devil.

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