MINA: Thanks to computer technology and SMS messaging, pilgrims performing Haj in Makkah were able to make their Eidul Azha sacrifice on Monday without getting blood on their hands.

The more than 1.8 million pilgrims from around the world participating in the Haj had the option of computerised coupons to order a sacrifice on Eid without even seeing their sacrificial animals.

Many among the world's more than 1.5 billion Muslims themselves pick up a knife and kill sheep or other animals to mark Eid but "If each pilgrim himself sacrificed a sheep, there wouldn't be enough space", said Rabie Saleh, a Sudanese in line at a Saudi post office at Mina's Jamarat Bridge.

Over the centuries, when performing Haj meant an arduous desert journey, pilgrims themselves sacrificed animals before handing meat to the poor.

"But now there are millions of pilgrims. If each sacrificed a sheep, that would take days and days," said Mishal Qahtani, 33, a Saudi pilgrim.

So the Islamic Development Bank, based in the nearby Red Sea city of Jeddah, devised the electronic coupon system.

For 460 riyals ($123) this year, agencies located around holy sites visited by the pilgrims take charge of the sacrifice.

"As soon as someone buys from us, a request is sent to the Islamic Bank through our system and a sheep is slaughtered in an abattoir," explained Mansour al Malki, 45, a postal worker.

The meat is then cut up and handed out to the less fortunate in the Makkah area or sent overseas, Malki said. "Before, there were paper coupons but now it's computerised," Malki said.

Qahtani received a receipt showing he had paid for the sacrifice.

"They told me that I will soon get an SMS to tell me that a sheep has really been slaughtered," Qahtani said.