THE simple answer is: Muslims DON’T stone the devil in Hajj every year. We stone the Jamarat, not any devil, Shaitan or Shayateen (pl. of Shaitan). The pillars of Jamarat are not devils. This is a misconception even among a few uneducated Muslims. Scholars continue to clarify this point every year during Hajj.
Throwing pebbles at the Jamarat is an obligatory ritual of Hajj. Although there is a story behind it, we do it simply because these are the rites of Hajj in our religion.
Then how is this association with the devil? The Hajj itself is an act that God first established through Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Muslims are the true inheritors of all the prophets as we follow the same religion that all prophets came with. Some laws were different according to the time and people that earlier prophets were sent to, but the tenets of faith remain the same. Prophet Muhammad r, who is the last Messenger of God, showed us the rituals, which include stoning the Jamarat.
Beyond rituals, if you would like to understand the spiritual aspect and purpose of Hajj, please check our other articles in the issue.
Stoning the Jamarat is actually an imitation of Prophet Ibrahim’s actions. According to narrations, Satan appeared to Ibrahim at those places and tried to confuse or divert him so Allah commanded Ibrahim to throw stones at him.
That God commanded believers — millions and millions and for centuries till the Last Day — to repeat his actions shows the special honor God wished to grant Ibrahim. What a great man he must have been! And Muslims are proud to honor who God is so pleased with.
Abu Haamid al-Ghazaali, a famous scholar of the past, said:
“As for the stoning of the Jamarat, the purpose behind it is to follow the command and manifest submission and servitude to Allah, and show complete obedience without rational thought or the ego having any part in it. The aim is also to imitate Ibrahim u, when Iblees (may Allah curse him) appeared to him in that place to instill confusion in his mind or tempt him to sin, and Allah commanded him to throw stones at him so as to drive him away and dash his hopes. […]
“Remember that you are outwardly throwing pebbles at al-‘Aqabah, but in fact you are throwing them in the face of the shaitan and you are breaking his back with them, because nothing annoys him except your obeying the command of Allah out of veneration for Him…” [Ihya’ ‘Uloom al-Deen, 1/270; Source: IslamQA]
So true! The devil is not annoyed by anything more than obedience to God.