More than two million Muslims begin hajj pilgrimage

Hajj: Images show Saudi Arabia preparing for arrival of over two million Muslim pilgrims in Mecca

Stunning images show Mecca preparing for the world's single largest gathering

The kingdom has plans to introduce capsule rooms in the western city of Mina in the coming days, as an estimated two million Muslim faithful gather for the six-day hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

They will circle Islam's most sacred site, the cube-shaped Kaaba in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, and take part in a series of rituals meant to bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims.

Muslims do not worship the Kaaba, but it is Islam's most sacred site because it represents the metaphorical house of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Muslims circle the Kaaba counter-clockwise seven times while reciting supplications to God, then walk between the two hills travelled by Hagar, Ibrahim's wife.

The five-day hajj pilgrimage represents one of the world's biggest gathering every year, a trip required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life. Hindustan Times delivers the news across all social media platforms, on the web, and at your doorstep. Mecca's Grand Mosque, the world's largest, encompasses the Kaaba and the two hills.

But he was able to join about 2 million Muslims, including 1.68 million from overseas, flooding Mecca's narrow streets for the annual rite which starts on Sunday.

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At the hajj's end, male pilgrims will shave their hair and women will cut a lock of hair in a sign of renewal for completing the pilgrimage.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Friday concluded the transportation of Nigeria's pilgrims to this year's Hajj with the arrival of about 190, making up 37,746 pilgrims now in Saudi Arabia.

The nap pods provide a solution for pilgrims of limited means who can not afford to book hotels on site but need a quick rest during hajj.

The climax of the Hajj includes the Eid al-Adha festival, which is one of Islam's two major festivals and involves the sacrifice of an animal, usually a sheep, goat, or cow.

Tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage, which was struck by its worst ever disaster three years ago when around 2,300 worshippers were crushed to death in a stampede.

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Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia also faces threats from al-Qaeda jihadists and a local faction of the Islamic State extremist group.

The potential for disease spreading among pilgrims, who spend five days in close quarters, often eating outside and sleeping on the ground near holy sites, is a perennial concern.

Abdullah Al-Kaabi of the state-run Qatar National Human Rights Committee said Saudi Arabia had shut down an electronic system used by travel agencies to obtain permits for pilgrims from Qatar.

Meanwhile, a Saudi-led war in Yemen against Shiite rebels drags on without an end in sight.

The Pew Research Center says the number of Muslims in the world is expected to rise from 1.8 billion in 2015 to three billion in 2060. This is where pilgrims ask Allah (God) for forgiveness for any past sins. "I pray to Allah to grant victory to all of them, the people of Palestine, the people of Gaza, Syria and all Arab countries".

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