The Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam and one of the largest religious pilgrimages in the world, is currently taking place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Starting last Friday and continuing through Wednesday, some 3 million Muslims from around the globe are participating in several rituals, including the Tawaf — the circumambulation of the Kaaba, the enormous cube-shaped building in the center of the Masjid al-Haram mosque. The pilgrims are are also taking part in the Sa’i, traveling back and forth between the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, and Ramy al-Jamarat, in which they throw pebbles at three walls in the city of Mina to show their defiance of the Devil. Directly after the Hajj, Muslims all over the world will observe Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice. The feast honors Abraham who, according to Muslim tradition, was prepared to sacrifice his son Ishmael before God sent a ram in his place. To commemorate this event, worshippers sacrifice sheep, cows, and camels, and share the meat among family, neighbors, and the needy. Collected here are scenes of this year’s Hajj and Eid al-Adha, from Mecca and around the globe.
A Muslim pilgrim prays as visits the Hiraa cave, at the top of Noor Mountain on the outskirts of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 2, 2011. According to tradition, Islam’s Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while he was praying in the cave.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
An aerial view shows the Mecca Clock Tower as Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of the holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage rituals on November 7, 2011. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images) #
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims perform the evening prayer in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, on November 2, 2011.(Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images) #
Muslim pilgrim pray outside Namira mosque in Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 5, 2011. The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws 2.5 million visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Muslims perform their ablutions in the inner courtyard of the 17th century Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi, India, before early morning Eid al-Adha prayers on November 7, 2011. Thousands of Indian Muslims crowded in and around the mosque, the largest in India, to attend prayers in the first morning of Eid-al Adha or Festival of Sacrifice. India has the second largest population of Muslim followers in the world with over 150 million faithful. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants living in the northern port city of Thessaloniki in Greece, offer Eid al-Adha prayers on November 6, 2011. For the first time in Thessaloniki, Greek authorities granted a public hall to Muslims in order to celebrate Eid al-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice, in remembrance of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son. (AP Photo/Nikoloas Giakoumidis)