Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

The Hajj, Islam's annual pilgrimage to Mecca, begins

More Than 1.8M Pilgrims Gather in Mecca Ahead of the Hajj More than two million Muslims begin Hajj pilgrimage
Patty Aguilar | 10 August, 2019, 11:10

The hajj in Islam is meant to unify Muslims, with pilgrims shedding displays of wealth and materialism.

During Hajj, pilgrims perform ancient rites and prayers with the aim of cleansing the soul of sin and bringing worshippers closer to Allah.

Many worshippers circled the Kabba on Friday and earlier in the week - the cube-shaped structure is the ancient city's holiest site.

Muslims around the world pray towards the Kaaba, which is located in the Grand Mosque, and pilgrims walk around it seven times.

In Mina, an area of eight-square kilometres has been allocated to some 45,000 tents, to provide accommodation for 1.5 million pilgrims. For the faithful, it is a deeply spiritual journey, which for centuries every capable Muslim has been required to make at least once in their lifetimes.

- Tens of thousands of security personnel, including more than 17,000 civil defence employees, are deployed to help safeguard pilgrims, officials say.

"I am very happy now".

"The whole world is here. being here in Mecca is the best feeling", said Mohamed Barry, a pilgrim from Britain.

The U.S. consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia said some 20,000 U.S. citizens and residents were expected to take part in this year's hajj.

This year's Hajj, which ends on Tuesday, is being held amid heightened tensions between the USA and Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia.

Muslim minorities around the world also face increased threats, with Uighurs facing repression in China, Rohingya facing genocide in Burma and Kashmiris under a sweeping curfew and communication blackout in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"I can not express my feelings".

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Saudi King Salman invited as his guests this year 200 survivors and relatives of victims of a shooting spree in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a gunman opened fire and killed 51 people in two mosques.

For the well-heeled, the pilgrimage includes a partial stay in towering five-star hotels with lavish buffets overlooking the Kaaba.

Gbajabiamila, who is now performing the hajj, expressed optimism that with prayers, Nigeria would move to the next level.

Many pilgrims will save for years to perform the hajj.

In addition to being financially costly, the hajj is physically demanding, involving much walking and travel between various points along the route.

The Prophet Mohammed made the first pilgrimage to Mecca in 628 AD with 1,400 followers.

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Muna reports that nearly all the 45,500 pilgrims and the 18,000 other Nigerian pilgrims who came to the holy land through private tour operators have been transported to Muna.

Saudi Arabia's Director General of Passports, Maj.

Still, the hajj remains a precarious journey.

After descending, they will gather pebbles and perform the symbolic "stoning of the devil". The government never released a final death count.

"More than 1.8 million visas were delivered online without the need for middlemen".

"We feel cleansed by achieving this pillar of Islam and meeting people from across the world".

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