Millions of Muslims from around the world are preparing to perform the annual pilgrimage of Hajj in Saudi Arabia, which will start on Monday, June 26, following the sighting of the moon in the kingdom.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a once-in-a-lifetime duty for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it. It is meant to cleanse followers of sin and bring them closer to Allah.
The pilgrimage takes place in the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijja, in and around the holy city of Mecca. It re-enacts the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) in his “farewell pilgrimage” in 632 AD, which traces the footsteps of the prophets Abraham and Ishmael through the Arabian desert.
The pilgrims will perform various rituals over the course of five days, such as walking around the Kaaba seven times, running between the hills of Safa and Marwa, praying at Mount Arafat, stoning the Jamarat (stone structures that represent the devil), sacrificing an animal and shaving or trimming their hair.
On the third day of Hajj, Muslims worldwide will celebrate Eid al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice, which commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God. This year, Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 28.
Hajj is the largest Muslim gathering in the world and a source of spiritual and economic benefits for Muslims. It is also a demonstration of unity and diversity among Muslims from different countries, cultures and backgrounds.