Millions of Muslims gather every year in the holy, Saudi Arabian city of Mecca for Hajj -- a pilgrimage that includes a series of specific rituals carried out by the Prophet Mohammad nearly 1,400 years ago.
When is Hajj?
The date of Hajj is determined by the Islamic calendar. It takes place in Dhul-Hijjah, which is the 12th month of this calendar between the eighth and 13th days of the month. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar year, which is shorter than the Gregorian year. Hajj began on Sunday, August 19 and will end in the evening of Friday, August 24.
The pilgrimage is mandatory for all Muslims to complete at least once in their life if they can afford to go and are able-bodied. The Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and all believers are required to perform it at least once in their lives, as long as their health allows it. The holy event takes place in several locations around the city of Mecca, and lasts for five days of intense worship. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to get closer to Allah and Muslims from all over the world have the opportunity to interact with each other.
What do you do at Hajj?
During the pilgrimage, pilgrims wear simple white clothes called Ihram. Muslims on Hajj are forbidden from having sex, proposing marriage, cutting their hair or nails and killing animals. Muslims walk around the Kaaba seven times as part of the Hajj pilgrimage.
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How many people will travel for Hajj?
This year, it has been estimated that more than two million people will make the journey. 2017 saw almost 2.5 million attendees, with 2012 holding the record with more than three million flocking to the holy city.
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