Millions of Muslims attend annual pilgrimage to Mecca

admin | 11/16/2011, 5:19 a.m.

Friday, Nov. 4th, marked the beginning of the Hajj the annual pilgrimage of millions of Muslims to the holy site of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage draws an average of 2.5 million adherents every year and is considered the worlds largest gathering of Muslims. According to the American-Islamic Relations, roughly 10,000 American Muslims attend Hajj annually. The Hajj one of the Five Pillars of Islam is considered a duty that should be fulfilled at least once in a Muslims lifetime as long as a person is physically and financially able. The Hajj consists of several ceremonies meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith and to commemorate the trials of prophet Abraham and his family . . . prophet Muhammad said that a person who performs Hajj properly 'will return as a newly-born baby [free of all sins], according to the Council on Islamic Education. Before leaving for the Hajj, Muslims pay off debts, correct wrong doings and spiritually prepare themselves. The journey brings believers to a series of locations featured in the Koran including the plain of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and the Zamzam Well. At every location, pilgrims participate in various ceremonies including throwing seven pebbles at a pillar to symbolize Satans temptation of Abraham to disobey Gods command to ritually murder his son and sacrificing a sheep to reflect the animal that God provided in place of his son. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com