DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Small groups of pilgrims performed one of the final rites of the Islamic hajj on Friday as Muslims worldwide marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday amid a global pandemic that has impacted nearly every aspect of this year's pilgrimage and celebrations.
The last days of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia coincide with the four-day Eid al-Adha, or "Feast of Sacrifice," in which Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.
The pandemic has pushed millions of people around the world closer to the brink of poverty, making it harder for many to fulfill the religious tradition of purchasing livestock.
In Somalia, the price of meat has slightly increased. Abdishakur Dahir, a civil servant in Mogadishu, said that for the first time he won't be able to afford goat for Eid because of the impact of the virus on work.
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"I could hardly buy food for my family," Dahir said. "We are just surviving for now. Life is getting tougher by the day."
In some parts of West Africa, the price for a ram has doubled. Livestock sellers, used to doing brisk business in the days before the holiday, say sales have dwindled and those who are buying can't afford much.
"The situation is really complicated by the coronavirus, it's a tough market," Oumar Maiga, a livestock trader in Ivory Coast said. "We are in a situation we've never seen in other years."
The hajj pilgrimage has also been drastically impacted by the virus. Last year, some 2.5 million pilgrims took part, but this year as few as 1,000 pilgrims already residing in Saudi Arabia were allowed to perform the hajj.
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The Saudi Health Ministry said there have been no cases of the covid-19 illness among this year's pilgrims.
Just after dawn on Friday, small groups of pilgrims -- masked and physically distancing -- made their way toward the multistory Jamarat Complex in the Saudi valley area of Mina. There, the pilgrims cast pebbles at three large columns. It is here where Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, out of submitting to God's will that he sacrifice his son.
Muslims commemorate Ibrahim's test of faith by slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.
The hajj, both physically and spiritually demanding, is required of all Muslims to perform once in a lifetime.
Sheikh Abdullah al-Manea, member of the Supreme Council of Senior Scholars of Saudi Arabia, used the hajj sermon Friday to praise the kingdom's leadership for their "wise decision" to limit the number of pilgrims and protect human life.
Around the world, Muslims gathered with relatives or remained at home to mark the start of Eid.
Information for this article was contributed by Niniek Karmini, Fay Abuelgasim, Llazar Semini, Abdi Guled, Lekan Oyekanmi, Abdoulie John, Hilaire Zon, Babacar Dione, Krista Larson, Ali Abdul-Hassan and Hassan Ammar of The Associated Press.
Kosovo police officers stand outside the Sultan Mehmet Fatih mosque in Pristina, Kosovo, Friday, July 31, 2020. Government measures banned all public gatherings including religious due to fear of recent uprise in COVID-19 cases. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar in the symbolic stoning of the devil, the last rite of the annual hajj, and the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, July 31, 2020. The global coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over every aspect of this year's pilgrimage, which last year drew 2.5 million Muslims from across the world to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon nearly 1,400 years ago. Only a very limited number of pilgrims were allowed to take part in the hajj amid numerous restrictions to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus. (Saudi Ministry of Media via AP)
Health officials spray disinfectant inside the Namira Mosque in Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, July 30, 2020. This year's hajj was dramatically scaled down from 2.5 million pilgrims to as few as 1,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Saudi Ministry of Media via AP)
Afghan Muslims greet each other after offering Eid al-Adha prayers in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, July 31, 2020. During the Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, Muslims slaughter sheep or cattle and distribute portions of the meat to the poor. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Mullahs wearing masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, attend an Eid al-Adha prayer while maintaining a social distance at an almost empty main mosque in Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 31, 2020. Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, Islam's most important holiday marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Worshippers wearing masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, offer Eid al-Adha prayer in front of the Gazi Husrev-beg mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, July 31, 2020. Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, Islam's most important holiday, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son. (AP Photo/Kemal Softic)
Worshippers wearing masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, offer Eid al-Adha prayer while maintaining a social distance in front of the Gazi Husrev-beg mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, July 31, 2020. Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, Islam's most important holiday, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son. (AP Photo/Kemal Softic)
Muslim pilgrims pray on top of the rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy on the Plain of Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Only about 1,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage this year due to the virus pandemic. (Saudi Ministry of Media via AP)
Muslims, wearing protective masks as a precaution against the coronavirus, offer their prayers during the Eid al-Adha prayer backdropped by the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, recently converted back to a mosque, in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, early Friday, July 31, 2020. Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, at the end of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, is amajor holiday observed by billions of Muslims across the globe.This is the first Feast of Sacrifice since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mehmet Guzel)