Pictures: Millions of Muslims Start Annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, at least two million Muslims swarmed the Kaaba in the middle of Mecca’s Grand Mosque to begin their annual hajj pilgrimage.

All “able-bodied” Muslims must make the hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lives. Hajj is one of “the five main pillars of Islam, which also include belief in the oneness of God and the Prophet Muhammad as his final messenger, five daily prayers facing toward the Kaaba, annual charity and fasting during the month of Ramadan.” The pilgrims must “shed symbols of materialism,” as women refuse to wear makeup and don loose clothes. All men wear a loose white robe to appear as equals.

Translation: 4,000 Yemeni pilgrims arrive in Mecca.

The pilgrims then proceed to reenact Ibrahim’s wife’s journey. Ahram Online reports:

In Mecca, they circle the Kaaba counterclockwise seven times and re-enact the journey of Ibrahim’s wife, Hagar, who Muslims believe ran between two hills searching for water for her dying son. Islamic tradition holds that God then brought forth a spring that runs to this day, and Muslims drink from it during the hajj.

Since arriving in Mecca over the past several weeks, hundreds of thousands have chanted, “Labayk Allahuma Labayk,” or “Here I am, God, answering your call. Here I am.”

Saudi Arabia also displayed advanced security systems to keep Muslim travelers safe from potential disruptions. Others provided medical services.

Translation: Watchful eyes of the security camera. 5,000 – 100,000 security men provide security and safety for the pilgrims.

Translation: A man stands over and helps pilgrims after he loses consciousness due to the heat.

Translation: Mecca youth continue to provide humanitarian services.

Translation: A procession of majestic ambulances in Arabia to transport sick pilgrims to perform Hajj.

Translation: Men provide humanitarian services to children and elderly pilgrims.

Rain fell on the pilgrims as night fell, offering much needed relief from the afternoon heat.

Tent cities popped up to house the pilgrims.

Weeks before the hajj began, a crane collapsed and killed hundreds of Muslim pilgrims at the Grand Mosque. A sandstorm and strong thunderstorm caused the equipment to fall. The kingdom is expanding the landscape due to the overwhelming amount of people who attend each year. In April, the government announced construction workers finished 95% of the Grand Mosque’s expansion, “thanks to 30 months of non-stop work ordered by the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.” Reuters reported the government limited the number of pilgrims to Mecca last year due to construction.


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