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
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A general view shows the Saudi holy city of Makkah, as seen from the top of Noor mountain \n
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The Grand Mosque in Makkah, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual hajj\n
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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
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Muslim pilgrims shelter in a tent after arriving at Mina valley, five kilometres east of the Saudi Arabian holy city of Makkah
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A pilgrim reads the Muslim holy book or Koran in the Mina valley ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage
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Muslim pilgrims sit and eat a meal together east of Makkah
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A little Muslim pilgrim boy holds his mother's hand
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A pilgrims rest along a road leading into Mina
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Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the 'Jamarat' ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina
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More than two million Muslim pilgrims launched into the final rituals of the hajj ahead of their massive exodus from Islam's holiest city
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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
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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
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An aerial picture shows the area where Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the 'Jamarat' ritual, the symbolic stoning of Satan, in Mina
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An aerial picture shows thousands of tents housing Muslim pilgrims crowded together
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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
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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
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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
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Muslim pilgrims perform the final walk around the Kaaba (Tawaf al-Wadaa) at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Makkah\n
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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.
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Muslim pilgrims walk towards Mina near the holy city of Mecca to perform the 'Jamarat' ritual
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Muslim pilgrims sit in front of a lit sign that reads 'God is Great'
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The half moon is seen behind the minaret of the Namira Mosque at Mount Arafat
Thu 18 Nov 2010 01:07 PM GST