2 million Muslims gather near Mecca for peak of haj pilgrimage

Aug 31, 2017
Muslim pilgrims visit the Jabal Al Rahma holy mountain, or the mountain of forgiveness, upon their arrival to Arafat for the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. Photo by AP

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia: Around 2 million people — their palms facing the sky in supplication — are gathering near Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the peak day of the annual haj pilgrimage.

From dawn until dusk on Thursday, the massive crowd of people will be gathered here in Mount Arafat to spend the day in supplication and contemplation. It is here, on this mount surrounded by desert, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon more than 1,400 years ago.

During the haj, male pilgrims are required to wear seamless, white terrycloth garments for the entirety of the haj. Women wear loose clothing, cover their hair and forgo makeup and nail polish to achieve a state of humility and spiritual purity.

The haj is required of all Muslims once in a lifetime. –AP