Every year, millions of Muslims from around the world embark on their pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The Islamic pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is done by millions of Muslims every year and is called the Hajj, meaning ‘to intend a journey’. It is the largest gathering of Muslims in the world with more than six million in the city during the week of Hajj. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the trip is expected to do so, which is part of his or her religious duty and a demonstration of their submission to God. Muslims who do so are called a mustati. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city.
The date for the Hajj changes every year as the Islamic calendar differs from the more widely used Western calendar. Hajj typically occurs from the 8th to 12th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar, otherwise known as Dhu al-Hijjah and is considered their most sacred month of the year.
The pilgrimage dates back thousands of years to the time of Ibrahim, although the Hajj is more commonly associated with the Prophet Muhammad from the seventh century. A series of rituals are performed during the week of the Hajj – a few of which involves running back and forth between the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah hills and drinking from the Zamzam Well. Pilgrims also shave their heads and perform an animal sacrifice.
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