Monday, September 12, 2016

PHOTOS: Muslim Hajj Pilgrimage Reaches Its Pinnacle

More than a million Muslims have embarked on the yearly Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, after last year's holy event was marred by a deadly stampede that killed hundreds and stoked tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The sacred Muslim pilgrimage takes place over five days — and on Sunday, it reached its climax, as NPR's Alice Fordham tells our Newscast unit. "Beginning at dawn, the masses congregated to pray on the mountain where they believe the Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon," Alice reports.

Prayer on this mountain, called Mount Arafat and located 12 miles east of Mecca, "is believed to offer the best chance of erasing past sins and starting anew," as The Associated Press explains. This day "is the one time during the hajj when roughly all pilgrims are in the same place at the same time," the wire service adds, and the pilgrims hail from more than 160 countries.

The pilgrimage to Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad's birthplace, is a religious obligation in Islam. Able-bodied Muslims must do it at least once in their lives, and it's one of five central pillars of the religion. The spiritual experience is also intensely physical. - NPR

PHOTOS: Muslim Hajj Pilgrimage Reaches Its Pinnacle


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