LifestyleRecord Hajj turnout as 1.5 million pilgrims flood Saudi Arabia

Record Hajj turnout as 1.5 million pilgrims flood Saudi Arabia

Such crowds appeared in Arabia
Such crowds appeared in Arabia
Images source: © Adobe Stock

6:24 AM EDT, June 12, 2024

In recent days, significant crowds have gathered in Saudi Arabia. Reports indicate that over 1.5 million Muslims from abroad are present, with more expected to arrive. This influx is due to the Hajj, a pilgrimage every faithful Muslim is expected to undertake at least once in their lifetime.

The four-day Hajj, which this year will begin in mid-June, involves a series of rituals performed in Mecca and its surroundings. This spiritual pilgrimage purges the soul of sins and grants forgiveness to its participants. It is considered one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside the profession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. Every Muslim is encouraged to participate in the pilgrimage at least once if they have the means. According to foreign media, the Hajj is regarded as the "largest gathering of people on the planet."

Crowds in Arabia

The authorities of Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday, June 12, that over 1.5 million Muslims from abroad had arrived for this year's pilgrimage to Mecca by Tuesday, with more arrivals anticipated.

The vast majority of foreign pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia by plane. Their numbers are expected to grow before the official Hajj starts on Friday, June 14. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Saudi Arabian residents will also participate in the pilgrimage.

According to Saudi authorities, more people will participate in this year's pilgrimage than last year, when the number reached 1.8 million, approaching pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, as many as 2.4 million Muslims participated in the Hajj.

Pilgrims showed up

This year, among the pilgrims are 4,200 Palestinians from the West Bank. Due to the ongoing eight-month war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip did not join them.

On Tuesday, the pilgrims circled the Kaaba, the place of worship containing the Black Stone, seven times, the holiest site in Islam. This ritual is mandatory for every pilgrim upon arriving in Mecca and again before leaving.

On Friday, the pilgrims will head to Mount Arafat for a day-long vigil and then to the valley of Muzdalifah, where they will collect stones to use later in the valley of Mina for stoning three stone pillars symbolizing the devil.

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