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Thu 18 Nov 2010 01:07 PM

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The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah

Millions of Muslims converged this week in the holy city of Makkah to make the hajj pilgrimage, one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion

The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
A general view shows the Saudi holy city of Makkah, as seen from the top of Noor mountain \n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
The Grand Mosque in Makkah, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual hajj\n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
The passage to Mina marks the official launch of the hajj on the eighth day of the Muslim calendar month of Dhul Hijja. The day is known as Tarwiah (watering) as pilgrims in the past stopped at Mina to water their animals and stock up for the trip to Mount Arafat
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims shelter in a tent after arriving at Mina valley, five kilometres east of the Saudi Arabian holy city of Makkah
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
A pilgrim reads the Muslim holy book or Koran in the Mina valley ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims sit and eat a meal together east of Makkah
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
A little Muslim pilgrim boy holds his mother's hand
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
A pilgrims rest along a road leading into Mina
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the 'Jamarat' ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
More than two million Muslim pilgrims launched into the final rituals of the hajj ahead of their massive exodus from Islam's holiest city
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Shaving the head, or halq, is a fundamental act for all male pilgrims during the pilgrimage: Muhammad is said to have prayed three times for men who removed all their hair and only once for those who trimmed it.\n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims leave from the Grand Mosque after they perform the final walk around the Kaaba (Tawaf al-Wadaa) in the Saudi holy city of Makkah\n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
An aerial picture shows the area where Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the 'Jamarat' ritual, the symbolic stoning of Satan, in Mina
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
An aerial picture shows thousands of tents housing Muslim pilgrims crowded together
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
The annual pilgrimage, one of Islam's five pillars, draws three million each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world. Believers from all over the world travel to Makkah in Saudi Arabia
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
This aerial picture shows the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah on November 17, 2010, as millions of Muslim pilgrims launched into the final rituals of the hajj\n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
The first day of stoning also marks the start of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, meaning "Feast of Sacrifice," when Muslims around the world slaughter sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son\n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims perform the final walk around the Kaaba (Tawaf al-Wadaa) at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Makkah\n
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
The casting of stones sees pilgrims re-enact Abraham's rejection of the devil. According to Islamic tradition the prophet was on his way to sacrifice his son Ishmael at Allah's request when he was tempted by the devil on three occasions. Each time the prophet threw stones to drive him away.
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims walk towards Mina near the holy city of Mecca to perform the 'Jamarat' ritual
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
Muslim pilgrims sit in front of a lit sign that reads 'God is Great'
The annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah
The half moon is seen behind the minaret of the Namira Mosque at Mount Arafat

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