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Mon 31 Oct 2011 12:37 PM

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Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj

The annual pilgrimage represents one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion

Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
At least 2m Muslims are expected to journey to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia this year, to take part in the annual pilgrimage known as the Hajj. (AFP/Getty Images)
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
The Hajj is the largest pilgrimage in the world. It is recognised as a religious duty which every able-bodied Muslim must carry out at least once during their lifetime, providing they can afford it. It is supposed to be a demonstration of the solidarity between Muslims, and their submission to God.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
The pilgrimage occur from the 8th to the 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. It typically falls the first week in November.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
Many Muslim pilgrims have already begun their journey, flying into Jeddah airport. Most pilgrims travel to Hajj in groups, as an expression of unity.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
The pilgrimage not only draws in Muslims the Gulf states, but from the world over. Only non-Muslims are banned from the city. Pictured above, Indonesian Muslims wait at Jeddah airport to be taken to Mecca.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
More Indonesia women prepare for the pilgrimage.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
Indian policewomen assist a disabled Kashmiri pilgrim as she departs for Mecca. The first batch of 580 Kashmiri Hajj pilgrims set off for the annual trip. (AFP/Getty Images)
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
During the Hajj, male pilgrims are required to dress only in the ihram and a pair of sandals, whilst women wear their hijab - normal modest dress. They are not required to cover their hands or face.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
Thousands of Pakistani Muslims are known for taking part in the Hajj. Some airlines have special packages or provide subsidies for those doing the Hajj, whilst ships also take pilgrims to Mecca.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
Crowd control issues have become important during the Hajj, due to the sheer number of people gathering in one place.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
Egyptian Muslims also take part. No journey is thought to be too far for the pilgrims, despite a large number of deaths during the Hajj. Some of \nthe worst incidents have occurred during the Stoning of the Devil ritual, or due to tramplings as pilgrims have tried to run between the two hills known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.
Millions of Muslims journey to Makkah for the hajj
Oakstani Muslim pilgrims are pictured above. Thousands of Hajj travel applications were received for this year's pilgrimage season, but only some were selected for the journey.