2M Muslims gather near Mecca for peak of hajj pilgrimage

To follow commandments of Allah is the only way to salvation Sheikh Saad bin Nasser Al Shathri

To follow commandments of Allah is the only way to salvation Sheikh Saad bin Nasser Al Shathri

That would mark an increase compared with previous year when 1.86 million pilgrims joined the hajj, which Muslims are required to perform at least once in their life if able to do so.

He also urged pilgrims to abide by their assigned schedule for performing the sacred rituals.

The annual event - Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca - is extremely important for any and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

Muslim pilgrims gather in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia early on August 30, 2017 before heading to Mina for the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Dr Bashir Usman, one the pilgrims, told NAN that the day was significant to all Muslims, whether on Hajj or not. Since 2004, it has been replaced by walls to accommodate the rising numbers of pilgrims and to try to avoid a repeat of deadly crushes at the site.

"It is true that some officials and employees travelled to Saudi Arabia", said religious affairs ministry secretary Abdul Jalil while talking to Prothom Alo over phone.

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In 2015, hundreds of pilgrims were crushed to death in the ritual, a tragedy that triggered tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi authorities have reportedly hired 51,700 Saudi and expat employees in Mina to serve the pilgrims during their stay at the tent city. This ritual also symbolizes the repudiation of a person's own "internal despot", or low desires and wishes. "I am an old man [this could be my last chance] and maybe I will die tomorrow", said Shafiq, who has been working hard to finance his once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mecca.

In celebrating Hajj, Muslims replicate the steps of that Prophet Muhammad took more than 1,400 years ago, which takes place in numerous locations around Mecca.

This January, however, Riyadh forwarded an invitation to the Islamic Republic to send over Iranian pilgrims.

The king gave instructions to include Mariah Marghani Mohammad in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' Guests Programme to provide her with full care, according to the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.

Dressed in white, the pilgrims could be seen climbing up the sides of the hill and taking up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun.

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