November 15, 2010
Yesterday marked the start of the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Press Agency said that a record number of Muslims were expected to make the Hajj this year – over 3.4 million anticipated over the five days of the pilgrimage. One of the pillars of Islamic faith, the Hajj must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by any Muslim who has the ability to do so. Pilgrims perform a series of rituals including walking around the Kaaba, standing vigil on Mount Arafat and a ritual Stoning of the Devil. At the end of the Hajj, on November 16th, the three day festival of Eid al-Adha begins around the world.
A Muslim pilgrim prays atop Mount Al-Noor during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca November 9, 2010. (REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
A general view shows the Saudi holy city of Mecca, as seen from the top of Noor mountain, late on November 13, 2010. (MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)