Over 2 million Muslims in Mecca for start of hajj pilgrimage

Published August 9, 2019, 4:47 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By the Associated Press

MECCA, Saudi Arabia— More than 2 million pilgrims have gathered in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform initial rites of the hajj, an Islamic pilgrimage that takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet Muhammad some 1,400 years ago.

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have arrived in the kingdom to participate in the annual hajj pilgrimage, which starts Saturday, a ritual required of all able-bodied Muslims at least once in their life. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil/MANILA BULLETIN)
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have arrived in the kingdom to participate in the annual hajj pilgrimage, which starts Saturday, a ritual required of all able-bodied Muslims at least once in their life. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil/MANILA BULLETIN)

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

Male pilgrims wearing simple terry cloth white garments and women in conservative dress and headscarves will be circle the cube-shaped Kaaba on Friday.

The pilgrimage this year takes place amid a backdrop of political and sectarian tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and conflicts still flare in Yemen, Syria and Libya. Muslim minorities around the world also face increased threats, including in Indian-administered Kashmir, where a sweeping curfew is in effect.

 
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